Before I start, full disclosure, I’m one the spiritual-not-religious set. Not the born again type, which would be bad enough, I’m the seeker type, the spiritual pilgrim. 😛
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a household that didn’t even pretend at religion, and so from the time I realized that town kids did a funny thing called church on the weekends, I studied them with the gravitas and curiosity of Jane Goodall.
Hence, everything I know about religion I learned from a book. The source of the greatest confusion, for me, was the difference between what the Bible taught, versus what was actually practiced. For instance, I read the Old Testament and wondered where the hell Jewish people got all the pigeons and lambs to sacrifice. I was a very literal-minded child.
In high school, after I had read my way through the fiction section, I tackled the non-fiction section. Where does the Dewey Decimal system start? World religions. Taoism, Buddhism, Confuscianism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam, Kabbalah, and Zoroastrianism, just to hit the high points! Those are only the living religions; I studied what I could of the dead ones too– anglo-saxon paganism, Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Persian and Roman pantheons, as well as what little was known about the Central American religions. This concept of human faith was so fascinating to me!
So as you can see, I’ve done the legwork, the a la carte menu, if you will, and while many of the teachings have caught my fancy, and been integrated into my personal mythos, most are just pretty stories I use to inform my understanding of human behaviour.
Now, due diligence done, I’ll tell you the metaphysical crisis that’s been occupying my mind of late: Duality.
Now, I’ve pretty much nailed the understanding that labelling a thought-concept automatically limits it, creating a duality between that-which-is and that-which-is-not. Therefore, to experience life as fully as possible, you must at all costs refrain from judging or labelling it. (Suggested reading: The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle and Siddartha by Hermann Hesse) Scribbles and I began our friendship over a discussion of duality and cups.
But I was recently at a class (connecting consciousness, physics and metaphysics) and the instructor gave a demonstration concerning polarization, a particularly pernicious form of dualism.
She sat the class (about a dozen) in a circle, and placed one person in the middle. She put her hand on the shoulder of one person on the perimeter of the circle and said “This person represents world peace”. Then she went to the opposite side of the circle and said, “This person represents universal conflict.” Finally, she said to the person in the middle, “Where do you want to be?” Of course the person went and arrayed themselves beside “World Peace”. “Whoops,” she said, “Now you’ve tipped the balance. In order to get back into balance, the world will present more conflict.”
Now, accepting the validity of this exercise means accepting that not only does Newton’s First Law apply, but that there is a basic karmic principle at work. THIS is my understanding of karmic law… Not that good begets good and evil evil. But that supporting and cleaving to the yin or the yang of any situation will strengthen the opposite as well.
The is a very little understood concept; or, if it is understood, very little applied. But you do see it occasionally.
One example is Seek first to understand, then to be understood. By shifting your mental weight off of proving your own position, and striving to see if the opposite argument has any merit, you achieve a sort of mental balance, or the middle path, as it is known in any number of religions. Only then can you proceed from any kind of defensible mental position. Why? Because the more you stick to your side of the argument, the more pig-headed and unreasonable you are, the more your opponent gets that way too, and the less ground you’ll gain with them.
Moderation in all things; not only the food we eat, the pleasures we enjoy, and the mental self-flagellation we undergo, but also in our outlook, our perspectives.
It’s not about winning the argument, that’s just a concrete example of the energy built up by choosing a side. Any polarity requires the existence of its opposite in order to exist itself. Without dark, light cannot be distinct. Without sickness, there is no health. Prosperity is impossible without poverty.
So I’ve just been paying attention in my life to the ways in I align myself with a polarity, and I’m starting to investigate what my experience of life would be different if I did.
(For those of you that have been paying attention, yes, that is where my epiphany with Xris arose from. )