Let’s take a closer look at this dualistic way of thinking, because if we understand it, we have a better chance of not becoming caught in it. Duality is the condition of opposites wherein white comes with black, good comes with bad, and yes, pleasure comes with pain. On Earth, we are living on a dualistic plane. But we also have access to another plane, the unitive plane.
As many spiritual paths promote, we came from the oneness, we are part of the oneness, and we are heading back to the oneness. But here, the condition of duality prevails. And it will continue to be our reality as long as we have work to do relating to the topic of death.
But clearly we don’t want to wait until we physically die to come to terms with death. In fact, the way out of duality is by learning how to dance with death in our daily lives. In this way, we come out from under the trap of duality, discovering that it is, in fact, always an illusion from which we can escape.
We encounter duality when life circumstances create a situation—a crisis really—that seemingly gives us no way out. All options are bad. At this level of duality, which is the plane of the unhealed ego, the most important thing to remember is this: we’re not in truth. Then the part of us that can hold this bit of perspective, our healthy adult ego, already has taken one step out of the duality.
Next, by working with the Guide’s teachings about images, we need to uncover our own personal untruth—a misconception formed during childhood when we didn’t have the intellectual maturity to know better. Conclusions were made that have become a generalized belief about life, but which have sunk into our unconscious where they do great damage by attracting painful life experiences that seem to validate them.
So the way out of a dualistic trap is to open up to asking what will seem like the hardest thing to ask: What really is the truth of the matter? It will only seem difficult to the immature part that is locked in a life-or-death struggle to be right. Because being wrong feels like death. But if you knock, the door will open. If you ask with sincerity—praying deeply—the answers will come. They must. This is a spiritual law. And the moment you are more intent on the truth than being right, you transcend duality.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
– Albert Einstein
If we go deeper to the next layer of duality, we find that, strangely enough, all 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.” At this level of reality, everything feels like “life or death,” and there really is no way out.
A duality gets created when the child does not receive mature love. And note, given our current state of development and the way parents are chosen for each incarnation, very few children receive mature love. This is an important “set up” to understand. It is a main plot point in the script we have each, on another level of reality, agreed to.
Further, in the universal duality created by the child’s demand for exclusive love, the child can’t win. The child will be unconsciously jealous of siblings and both parents, feeling rejected and excluded. The duality is that the child wants the exclusive love of the parents, but the child suffers more if the parents don’t love each other or the siblings. This “not winning” reinforces to the child that it is not loved.
The resulting opposing but equally painful thoughts might be: “This is the way it is supposed to be” versus “This is my lot in life and it is like no one else’s.” This will lead the child to draw negative conclusions about the self and/or life. Yet neither statement is in truth.
The truth is that parents can love more than one person, albeit imperfectly. The reality is that the child doesn’t know why it feels unloved and unhappy, or the child may believe it is happy because it got some love. Either way, painful feelings of being unloved and unlovable will get cut off—because the child believes it will die from feeling this pain—and trapped inside. All this must be surfaced and explored.
This is where we must begin to do the hard work of dying. Every day, we can find places in us where we are hoping to avoid a buried pain We die to this illusion by going through our painful feelings and discovering that this doesn’t kill us. We must also die to our immature demands to have our way right now, and to clinging to anything or anyone we believe has the power to save us. The ego must learn to “let go and let God,” and in doing so, discover a far vaster resource of wisdom and strength.
Often, in our frustration, we will turn towards the very thing we fear, embracing the negative and resigning ourselves to feelings of hopelessness. In this case, we will often choose a substitute for satisfaction, such as material possessions or even overzealous religious convictions, which we then cling to in hopes they will bring us the happiness we long for.
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 as though our lives depended on it to not feel our pain.
But because Earth is, in truth, a plane 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. This is not a life-or-death reality, it is life-AND-death. On the unitive plane, neither side is thinkable without the other. Masculine and feminine energies must come together for new creation to arise.
Living in unity, then, means being willing to experience all aspects of reality. We must accept the bad with the good, the pain that comes with pleasure. Love, then, requires the willingness to feel the pain of being hurt and yet keep our hearts open.
What we discover, though, is that we feel better after we release the cramped, rigid holding of painful feelings. We are softened and opened up by a “good cry.” In this way, we get a glimpse of how pain and pleasure are one. It’s all good.
It is the same with giving and receiving. They are a pair that cannot be separated. So if you say you are good at giving but not receiving, you deceive yourself. You cannot really give freely if you are not able to receive. If you are stuck in negative intention and won’t give, you cannot receive the best life has to offer you.
Truth is a spectrum. And until we see the whole spectrum of truth regarding anything, we may see something as being true when we in fact don’t have the full truth. The Guide likens our window on truth to the experience of looking out one side of a train. Through that window, we see a certain landscape. But it is quite possible that if we look out the window on the other side of the train, we will see something completely different. And yet it’s all connected.
So in dualistic thinking, the world is divided into black and white. Reality, on the other hand, combines a bit of both: Sometimes they’re going to like you, and sometimes they’re not. For the mature adult, this is not the end of the world. And on the unitive plane, we discover that we are both right—and wrong. Just like everyone else. What’s more, on this plane of existence, even opposites can both be right.
“The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.”
– Niels Bohr
Until we know the greater truth of any matter, we need to remain curious and be willing to widen our perspective. When something doesn’t land well in us, it is because we have not yet discovered the whole truth of the matter. When that happens, energy is released and we will feel enlivened and settled by the truth. To accept that life, with all its challenges, can also be meaningful and beautiful, requires courage. Maturity results from this ability to hold such a greater level of awareness.
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