Being Non-Dual   1 comment

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I have been reading a lot lately about contemplative approaches to life.  Being contemplative means not having a dual mind.  This requires being open and striving to avoid preconceived opinions.  This also requires not putting judgment on encounters but instead experiencing these encounters.  A contemplative approach is not always appropriate.  However, where possible, it can allow us to discover new viewpoints and new understandings.

Having a non-dual mind requires a lot of effort for someone like myself.  As a productive of Western culture and the outcomes of the Enlightenment period, I have been trained to look at everything from an either/or viewpoint instead of a both/and, or even an “it is what it is” outlook.  Like many others, I see something as either good or bad, either right or wrong, either black or white.  It takes effort, some training, and some self-discipline to allow other possibilities.

Over time, I think all of us come to a point of having to admit (sometimes extremely reluctantly) that life does not allow us to place experiences, situations, and even people, in nicely contained boxes.  Just when we feel we have all the definitions figured out and can properly assess which compartment something appropriately can be assigned to, there is a twist or experience which throws off our neatly formed order.  We are forced to reassess what we knew to be true.  We are challenged to redefine life’s aspects.  This upsets us which I think is mainly because it forces us to see that we are not as truly in control as we would hope.

In my recent reading on this subject, I have to realize that there is some comfort to a non-dual viewpoint, as strange as it may seem.  By not having to label and categorize each item using the either/or approach, there is the opportunity to change and be changed.  I find some excitement in the idea that approaching life without a dualistic approach could led to some amazing discoveries.

Again, let me say that there are necessary times when we must determine either/or in a situation.  Let me also say that even if we want to move toward more non-dual approaches, it will take a lot of effort on our part since it will require us to relearn perspectives that have been in place for centuries.  However, I think it sounds like a great adventure if we are willing to make the attempt.


One response to “Being Non-Dual

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  1. I struggle with the theology of non-dualism, especially from Rohr, but in time I have come to understanding some of it. However, you have succinctly and clearly crossed the bridge from theology to life. I am surprised at your statement that non-dualism is sometimes comforting; I find it very comforting that I don’t have to start from dualistic thinking. And when one must make choices (all the time), we know those choices are not forced on us and there may be a third way that is neither black nor white. John Sprole

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