This blog will be building upon the groundwork that has been laid in some of my past writings. I'm sitting with a few truths with a capital "T" at the moment, truths which may initially appear contradictory but which, if embraced as a whole - and not only spoken about but enacted in our relationships with one another - offer us the possibility of outgrowing our global collective cycle of pain and suffering and stepping into a different experience of our shared life.
Truth number 1: No matter our disagreements, the reality of our interconnectedness remains. We all emerge from the same source, and thus the true nature of all of creation is qualitatively identical. While there are (i.e., we are) an infinite number of unique individuated expressions of this one true thing, we remain eternally connected to one another.
Truth number 2: The nature of this connection between us all is such that we live and die as one. We thrive or struggle as one, feast or starve as one, laugh and cry as one. We also live, die, thrive, struggle, feast, starve, laugh, and cry as individuals. As an individual, I experience existence through the lense of being me, Ryan. As a part of the collective Whole, I also experience existence the same way one drop of water experiences being part of a vast ocean - the drop of water experiences itself as the ocean, cooling, warming, ebbing and flowing with the movements of the whole. These two experiences of existence are not contradictory, but simultaneous. To thrive in this world, we must embrace both of them, for each of these two ways of experiencing existence has function and value, and finding a balance between the two of them is necessary in order to balance spirituality with everyday living. With every thought, word, and action, we consciously or unconsciously decide which of the two experiences we want to cultivate in that moment.
Truth number 3: Any dualistic paradigm which understands the world in terms of right and wrong, or good and bad, must, by it's very nature, be based only upon the truth of our individuality. (As opposed to the twin truths of both: our individuality and our unity.) A dualistic paradigm tends to be self-perpetuating and does not offer the possibility of evolving our relationships to one another beyond "I'm right and you're wrong." Within a dualistic paradigm, someone will always be right and someone will always be wrong. There will always be winners and losers, and thus our global collective cycle of pain and suffering will continue.
Truth number 4: An alternative paradigm (holistic as opposed to dualistic) based upon the twin truths of our simultaneous individuality and unity would invite us to behave in ways that
a) take responsibility for our individual participation within the collective
and b) acknowledge and affirm the truth of our unity by consistently committing to building relationships and finding common ground with those who think, feel, and believe differently than us.
Truth number 5: Taking responsibility for our individual participation within the collective while simultaneously committing to staying connected to those who think, feel, and believe differently than us is an incredible challenge and opportunity. In my own personal circumstances, I was born in the United States. Upon returning to the United States after time away, one way in which I intend on taking responsibility is by not paying income tax. Tax dollars in the United States have been used primarily to pad the pockets of the economic elite (bailout package) and murder people in other countries. (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, now potentially Syria.) I feel angry about how this public money has been used, and angry at the people who have been elected into public servant roles who have decided to take advantage of their position. It would be easy for me to settle into a dualistic understanding that perceives me as right and them as wrong. It would also be easy for me to settle into a dualistic understanding that perceives them as winners and me as a loser, based upon the apparent power dynamics present between us. However, settling into either one of those perspectives will not help to truly break our global collective cycle of pain and suffering. Instead, I feel the need to cultivate a holistic paradigm by committing myself to finding common ground with those people who are doing these things while simultaneously withdrawing my consent and participation.
Truth number 6: Seeking to force another to think, speak, and act in a way you want them to behave, because you believe you are right, does not truly solve the root problem underlying all of the pain and suffering in the world, which is disconnection. Every expression of collective pain and suffering - war, rape, self-abuse, economic manipulation, slavery, etc. - is a symptom of the underlying disease of disconnection. Attempting to force those who are doing the warring and the manipulating to stop, without seeking to find common ground and build a relationship with them, addresses the symptom only. In order to truly heal ourselves of all of these symptoms, we must heal the disease. This necessitates a holistic paradigm.
Truth number 7: Simultaneously, in addition to seeking common ground with those who think, feel, and behave differently than us, we must also withdraw our consent and participation from any and all organizations, governments, processes, and belief systems which engage in acts of violence, whether against humans or any other beings, including the planet herself. If all we do is seek common ground while still monetarily supporting violence, we are not taking responsibility for our individual participation.
Truth number 8: It is our own reluctance to be truly democratic to all the parts of ourselves as individuals (our pain, our darkness, our rage, our shadow, etc) that motivates us to resist building relationships with people we don't like. In this way, our tendency towards a dualistic paradigm informs our relationship to ourselves. We often deny, repress, or oppress our feelings, thoughts, and desires, because our dualistic paradigm informs us that certain feelings are 'good' and others are 'bad.' This leads us into a relationship to self wherein we feel good about ourselves when the feelings within us that we have labeled positive are winning, and bad about ourselves when the feelings within us that we have labeled negative are winning. As long as we continue to choose a dualistic perception of self, we will never truly heal the disease which underlies all of our individual symptoms of pain and suffering.
Truth number 9: The disease which underlies all of our collective symptoms of pain and suffering is the same disease which underlies all of our individual symptoms of pain and suffering - disconnection. In the first instance this disconnection is disconnection from other, and in the second instance this disconnection is disconnection from self.
Truth number 10: As the way we relate to others is a reflection of the way we relate to ourselves, we can begin the process of healing our world by cultivating a non-dualistic, holistic perspective in our relationship to self. Simultaneously, we can begin this process in our relationships to others as well, for the two approaches will be reciprocally beneficial.