There’s a meme floating around Facebook that says, “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not love.” Oy vey. The thing is, this is so totally true. But then what happened to “there is only one power in the universe—love”? Can both be true?
Indeed, living in this land of duality can be a real mind game. What can help is to give the mind something to think about. Like understanding how this two-shell game gets played. More than that, if we can appreciate how it has come about, we have a better chance of coming out from under it.
Duality is the condition of opposites, wherein white comes with black, good comes with bad, and yes, pleasure comes with pain. But of course that’s not the whole game. That would be unity. We came from the oneness, we are part of the oneness, and we are heading back to the oneness. But for now, we are stuck here in the twoness. And like it or not, this situation shall prevail here on Earth, as long as that Big Daddy of duality is among us—death.
We first stumble into duality when we find ourselves caught in some “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conundrum. We feel caught in a trap with two equally unappealing options. Opposites, but identical in their ugliness. An example might be when we’re stuck in a bad relationship: If I stay, there is this part that really bites (feeling so lonely). If I go, there’s this other part that blows (being all alone).
At this level of duality, which is the plane of the ego, the most important thing to remember is this: we’re not in truth. All duality is actually illusion. Here’s something else that’s not true: whatever you believe to be true about life—some now-unconscious conclusion that got formulated during childhood which is now your own personal generalized “truth”. But it has some serious flaws. Something’s gotta give, and it’s gotta be this buried wrong belief. The only way out is to pray to know the greater truth.
The only way out is to pray to know the greater truth.
This, in fact, is the way to contact the unified self—the divine center of infinite intelligence. And it will seem, in that moment, like the hardest thing to ask: What is the truth of the matter? It will only seem difficult to the small hidden part that remains locked in a life-or-death struggle to be right, where being wrong feels like death.
But if you pray deeply, answers will come. Knock and the door will open. And in that moment when you are more intent on the truth than being right, you begin to transcend duality. When Einstein, the father of the Unified Field Theory, said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” this is what he was talking about.
From here, if you go deeper to the next layer of duality, you’ll find that, strangely enough, both unsatisfactory choices lead to one half of a bigger duality. And more to the point, there will be a striving toward the “good half,” with an equally strong desire to flee the “bad.”
An example might be: it’s wonderful to be in a relationship. It’s horrible to be alone. Therefore, I will do anything to avoid being alone. This attempt to escape from Alcatraz is a no-win situation. But we’re willing to die trying.
So now we are truly at the doorstep of death. And our work must be to finally learn to die. This we must do over and over again. In a multitude of little ways, every day, we need to learn to die. To our demand to have our desires fulfilled right now. To our desperate clinging to something we hope will save us.
Sometimes, we’ll get so exhausted and frustrated, we turn and face the very thing we fear, embracing the negative and impaling ourselves on our own hopelessness.
An example might be: It’s useless, I’ll never have love. I resign myself to not having my desire, contenting myself with fill-in-the-blank instead. Material possessions and religious convictions are possible options for what people may choose to cling to.
All our defenses and coping mechanisms have roots in this dualistic notion that pain must be avoided at all costs. We only want pleasure, and we’ll fight like the devil to not feel our hurts. On an unconscious level, we’re running as though our lives depended on it.
That’s the thing about living in this land of duality. Whenever we strive for a certain desired goal, it brings with it, at least to some degree, an undesired one. Because black comes with white, dark comes with light, and pain comes with pleasure. Yet on the unitive plane, neither side is thinkable without the other. Masculine and feminine come together and something new can be created.
This is where that “all is one” unity stuff comes in. But it’s not just a life-or-death way of seeing the world. It’s life AND death. Oh boy. Suddenly it doesn’t look so easy, does it? No, we can’t Om our way to the mountaintop. Indeed, if we want the oneness, we have to be willing to experience it all. And that means taking the pain that comes with having pleasure. To love, then, requires the willingness to feel the pain of being hurt and yet keep our hearts open.
Nothing works better to soften and melt a frozen heart than a good cry.
The amazing thing is, nothing works better to soften and melt a frozen heart than a good cry—the healing waters of warm tears. They work wonders in opening us up. What doesn’t work is overlaying mantras of “there’s only love” on top of painful hurts that haven’t yet seen the light of day and had the chance to heal. We need to be willing to take the bad with the good. If we want it all, that’s the price we need to be willing to pay.
Pursuing love to avoid the pain of loneliness is a dualistic trap. And on the dualistic plane, there is no way out. To the child part inside us, feeling this pain is akin to death. To the mature adult though, experiencing pain is just a part of reality. We see that it won’t kill us. So we may have some growing up to do before we can step into relationship with wholeness.
Holding opposites in an all-encompassing way is how to create heaven here on Earth. We need to be willing to search for another way, for another truth, for another level of reality. Physicist Niels Bohr, another great mind behind quantum theory, said it this way: “The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.” In this unitive way of walking through this world, we can really live this deeper truth: it’s all good.
This is the doorway through which we must go. Every smidge of hurt we hope to avoid is really a spark of light that could lead us toward home. Nested inside our wounds is our wisdom for how to get there. The gauge is to look at what feels most uncomfortable, what we’re tempted to look away from because we’re geared in the opposite direction.
Truth be known, it doesn’t actually hurt more to heal our pain than to hide it. And if we really want it, that’s what we’ll do for love.
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