If you have fully '" arrived" at non duality is there a threat that you won't have ambition? Isn't ambition a driving force in human life ?

4 Answers 4


Good question. There are several schools of thought here.

According to one, attainment of nonduality does leave the person with nothing else to be done. No goals, no ambitions.

What follows from this is an idea that before a student is introduced to nonduality, they must be first taught discipline and a high-drive attitude, so by the time they attain non-duality, they develop a habit of being strong. A kind of prophylactics against the nondual depression, we could say.

According to another school, even though there is a clear realization that in nonduality no goals make absolute sense, relatively speaking some things are still locally "better" than others, so some local goals may still make relative sense. In this context, if someone has eyes to see local problems, they will remain motivated even if globally nothing makes sense.

Finally, according to my teacher, having goals post-enlightenment is more like playing Make-Believe. One doesn't actually buy into these things, so it's not like a true (blind) ambition. But an enlightened being may act as if they were seriously engaged with something, more for the sake of others, and even for an enlightened kind of "fun", than out of greed to achieve anything.

In (Mahayana) Buddhism, they define Enlightenment as "union of wisdom and compassion" for this very reason. Wisdom refers to realization of emptiness or nonduality, which sees that both suffering and so-called sentient beings are empty. Compassion is seeing that, however empty, the experience of suffering is rather painful -- hence the drive (=ambition?) to help out.

  • liked "blind ambition"
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 0:03

Ambition is a concept that can only be understood from the perspective of duality. Consider this:

From the dualistic perspective there is a human. The human desires to obtain an object. We call the strong desire for something and the striving to obtain it, ambition.

From the non-dual perspective, there is no human or object. Both were never separate, and the belief in their separateness was ignorance.

If there is no human, who is ambitious? If there is no object, what is there to be ambitious about?

The bottom line is this, non-duality is the perspective of non-separateness. Not many things becoming one, but the realization that there was never multiple things to begin with. Anything you can conceptualize as “separate” will be no longer considered so, and there will be no place for it.

It is not as if ambition will end. What you call ambition now will still remain. You will just understand that what you call ambition is no different from what you call the sky.

I hope this was helpful. I pray for nothing more than your liberation this lifetime.


When there is no more touch (phassa), the holy life is fullfilled, nothing further for this world.

One should be careful not to mistake householder-equanimity with it!

"Just as if a skilled butcher or butcher's apprentice, having killed a cow, were to carve it up with a sharp carving knife so that — without damaging the substance of the inner flesh, without damaging the substance of the outer hide — he would cut, sever, & detach only the skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between. Having cut, severed, & detached the outer skin, and then covering the cow again with that very skin, if he were to say that the cow was joined to the skin just as it had been: would he be speaking rightly?"...Nandakovada Sutta: Nandaka's Exhortation.

It's wise if having the right ambition in life to overcome suffering and be really compassionate.

It's follish to seek and use means to be unaware able to increase the cemeteries in this world.

(Note that it has not been given for trade, exchange, stacks or entertainment but to use it skillful as means out of this wheel)


what is the point of speculating about permanently arriving at non-duality? that which you believe to be dual, the second, is no longer present anyway. so what are you worried about? yes, i suppose ambition is needed for survival to some extent, but by the time you have "arrived" what does that even matter? the real question might be, does ambition help or hinder achieving this impossible non-duality? that's like asking does following the eightfold path help or hinder? what assists, and what prevents? perhaps non-duality is a random event that has no forbearance.

  • this answer is lacking a clear definition of duality/non-duality therefore i would re-answer or delete
    – blue_ego
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 21:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .