Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oneness Vs Duality

This is one of those articles that started out in my mind quite clear and concise and became somewhat obfuscated in the attempt to put it into words. It was a toss up as to whether or not to post it. Obviously, I opted to put it out there for your consideration. I hope it finds a resonance that is meaningful to you.

I have watched people struggle with the concept of duality ever since I first considered the subject many years ago. This dichotomy of separation inserts itself into every aspect of our lives--our philosophy, psychology and religion--to the point where we have come to accept it as the reality of our experience. It is, in fact, the basis for our problems and coming to understand oneness will be the solution to those problems, whatever they may be. One path to the realization of oneness is through meditation. The form and focus of meditation has to be correctly based on a belief system that embraces the concept of all is one—God and God is All.

Samadhi1, mental concentration2 in the Buddhist tradition, has as its purpose the notion of expansion into enlightenment rather than for the purpose of contraction. Rather than “excluding” in focus, we “expand” our awareness to the interrelationship of all things – All That Is.

Baird Spalding, in The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East3 discusses duality in which he points out there really is no such thing as duality. We consider the familiar examples often cited, such as black/white; good/evil; up/down; positive/negative. They ARE opposites, but not separate. Would anyone argue that the heads and tails of a coin are separate? No, they are two sides of ONE coin. What about “positive” and “negative?” Positive what? Negative what? We are talking about two observations of the same thing, one points out the “down” side while the other points out the “up” side. We have thought this way for so long that we now believe duality is real.

As I began to reconsider these questions there was a “click” in my consciousness and I suddenly saw Oneness and duality in their raw, true nature! Separation in every way that we might conceive of it only points out the variety of aspects of Oneness. We exhort the notion of “God is All,” and then go on to try to explain all the events and conditions that do not seem to be part of God. It seems to me this is how we arrived at the concept of the devil. There had to be someone to “blame” for everything that is not like our God. It seemed unnatural to think of God as having any part of evil, so we constructed an “alter-ego-god” in whom we placed the bad characteristics.

Either God IS all or there is NO God at all. All That Is, IS!

How much simpler life is for us when we can attribute all that is bad in the world to some force opposing God, which force is constantly vying for our attention and for our souls. Under these conditions we do not have to accept responsibility for the things that go wrong in our lives. “The Devil made me do it!” No, it is quite another thing to recognize that God is All and that any understanding of God that is less than all good is due to our failure to recognize God-Presence/Essence in All and through All as All.

Mr. Spalding also shares an excellent example of how this fits together in Oneness. He mentions that a point when extended becomes a line. The line has opposite ends, but it is one line. If we connect the two ends we have a circle. There is no beginning or end to a circle and it is still a line that began as a point. We can continue this example thusly. If we spin the circle on its diameter, we produce a sphere. The sphere encompasses all, especially when you extend the circumference indefinitely.

Undoubtedly, some will ask, “But what about what lies outside the sphere?” The point is, there IS NO OUTSIDE THE SPHERE! It is our limited perception that fails to include everything as One by drawing the spherical circumference in the first place. As a very young child I can remember looking up at the sky, and influenced by the teaching of my Fundamentalist Sunday School that placed God “out there” in the heavens, wondered where the separation took place. Where did our sky end and God’s heaven begin? I imagined a fence of boards nailed together. We were on one side. God was on the other. It didn’t make sense then, and it sure doesn’t make sense now!

God has been defined as a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. Do you get the picture? Edwin Markham says it another way:

He drew a circle that shut me out —

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But Love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in.

Edwin Markham, "Outwitted", from The Shoes of Happiness, and Other Poems (1913)

With expanded vision we draw all persons and all that is into that increasingly larger sphere of All That Is! For some persons, I imagine, it will simply be too difficult to change from a belief in duality—good and evil, God and the devil. For those who can begin to change their understanding and recognize that there is One Presence, One Power--God only--their lives will change. By accepting responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions, the condition of our consciousness will change for the better and our world will reflect that change in health, happiness and well-being.

1 Samadhi reference (paraphrased) from Baird Spalding in Vol 4, Chapter 3, Life and Teachings…
2 In Buddhism, samādhi (Pali; Skt.) is mental concentration. (From Wikipedia)
3 Life and Teachings, Vol. 4, Chapter 3

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