After naming that part of reality we are considering, the next step in its representation is to describe its characteristics. This is done using the linguistic form subject plus predicate, which, on the one hand, is necessary to build our representation of reality and then communicate it, but its effect is ultimately to reinforce the belief that existence always consists of something with a specific defining quality or property, taken from arbitrary categories created by us for the purpose. Such a process keeps our attention on reality’s phenomenal dimension, distracting us from perceiving the common nature, or essence, of the whole of existence. In other words, as long as we are busy defining the characteristics, or qualities, or functions of all the aspects of life and the material universe, we will hardly succeed in seeing their being as part of the sole and unitary reality.
Such an effect is even more evident when in our linguistic expressions we use the verb “to be.” While “to exist” refers to the absolute dimension of reality and to its being one only, “to be” rather refers to the relative characteristics of its infinitely multiple manifestation, those perceived by the senses, elaborated by the mind and finally represented through the language. We may therefore simply say that we exist, and that is enough to define our fundamental state as part of the existing reality, while, instead, when we say that we are, we always need to specify how we are. This is because existence is intrinsic to reality, while “to be,” with its characteristics, is consequent to existing and becomes one of its forms. In conclusion, precisely by the use of the verb “to be” is thus generated a dichotomy between the essence and the form of reality, and the affirmation “I am” has the effect to maintain the identification of the subject with his or her body-mind and, of course, with his or her own name. Even our attempt to abandon the identified subject, trying to free the self from any attribute by the affirmation “I am not that,” actually reinforces the belief that there is a subject who must disidentify him or herself from something. Such is the power of the verb “to be,” expressed both positively and negatively.
Furthermore, the verb “to be” is essential to “project the map drawn by our experience onto the territory of reality.” In fact, we don’t say “I see the flower as red” or “the flower appears to me to be red,” but rather we say “the flower is red,” matching what is perceived by our senses to the characteristics of the object itself. In this way our perception and consequent representation of reality becomes the characteristic of reality itself. We should therefore develop a new way to describe reality, and our experiences within it, bypassing the verb “to be.” For instance, “It’s cold” may turn into “I’m feeling cold”; “It’s beautiful, it’s tasty, etc.” into “I like its aspect, its taste, etc.”; “It’s heavy” into “I can hardly lift it”; “It is too high” into “I can’t reach it” and so on. The important thing is to reinforce our awareness of the subjective dimension of our experience, and, consequently, of its representation, in order not to make the error of considering it totally adherent to reality, so defining with our words reality itself. It could be argued that representing reality from a subjective and therefore relative perspective might have the unwanted effect of confirming our belief of being diverse and separate, reinforcing our identification with the body-mind and its sensations. However, if we preserve at a deeper level the awareness of reality’s oneness and unity, we can live in a subjective way the multiplicity of its manifestation without reinforcing the illusion of it being dual. It is as if we gave ourselves the permission to ignore the fundamental unitary essence of all that exists and play with its perceived differences.
(From Vignali. E., Understanding nonduality through color)

Author's Bio: 

Eugenio Vignali for nearly forty years has studied Eastern and Western philosophies and sapiential traditions, focusing on nonduality in all its currents. He is the author of a book about the great Renaissance philosopher Nicholas of Cusa’s universal unity vision and of the book titled Understanding nonduality through color, where his unique method to develop a non-dualistic awareness is explained. He runs the blog, which is the largest online nonduality quotes database in Italian. He gives lectures, runs classes, and offers individual coaching sessions to learn the fundamentals about nonduality and how to make its intellectual understanding a true life-experience. More info in English at