5 Grappling with Duality

Everything about Jesus Christ, including the story of his life, the whole big reason for his incarnation—which we’ll get to—and his long-remembered teachings, is all about the fight for good. But if we’re going to talk about the good, we need to be willing to look at the bad. And suddenly we’re immersed in one of the biggest and perhaps the most badass battles of them all—duality.

Duality is where the battle between opposites is waged. And this battle creates tremendous confusion in our lives. Let’s take a minute and track through how duality shows up in a person’s life.

Here in duality-land, white comes with black, good comes with bad, and yes, pleasure comes with pain. But of course any spiritual guru will tell you that’s not the whole game: it’s all about love. That would be true, on the level of unity. As we’ll discuss a little later, we have all come 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.

Conditions here on Earth are such that, no matter how spiritually evolved we may be, we are going to get to deal with death. And in fact, dealing with death is the way through the dogfight of duality.

We have a clue we are trapped in a dualistic illusion—and as we’ll see, all duality is just that, an illusion—when we find ourselves stuck in a struggle from which there is seemingly no way out. Right there, in that moment, we need to know just one thing: we are not in truth.

But at this point, the majority of our being seems to only know one thing: there are no good options. Here we are faced with some buried fixed idea about life, an image, that until now we were not even aware existed. We are so convinced of our wrong conclusions about life—which were formed very early in our childhood—that we don’t think to question them. And they are undoubtedly hard to dig up on our own.

In this level of duality, which is the plane of the ego, we need to reach out for help. If we ask, help will be given. Working with someone, such as a therapist, spiritual healer or friend, we can begin to pry open our tightly held beliefs, searching for evidence of something that—just consider the possibility—may not be true.

This really goes against our grain, because the part of ourselves that holds this belief has gotten stuck in childlike black-and-white thinking. This part—yep, here it is, the inner child—feels that to be wrong is to be bad, and that feels like death. It’s no mistake that we’re all here on this life-or-death planet. It’s because we all have this inner life-or-death wiring. This is what makes us fight to the death to be right.

But if we pray deeply to know the truth, answers will come. Knock and the door will be opened. And in that moment when you are more intent on the truth than being right, you begin to transcend duality.

From here, 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.”

This is where we are genuinely running from death’s doorstep. 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. To our desire to not feel alone.

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. Such despair and resignation is often what pushes us to turn to false gods, like material possessions.

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.

The thing about living in this land of duality is that 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.

So if we want to live our lives with our arms around the oneness, we need to open them big enough to gather up both life AND death. This is not so easy for us to do. Because this means we must be willing to experience it all—the pleasure and the pain. To love, then, requires the willingness to feel the pain of being hurt and yet keep our hearts open.

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. This ability to hold opposites in an all-encompassing way is what we must do if we want to create heaven here on Earth. This will lead us to a unitive way of walking through this world, where we can unflinchingly live this deeper truth: it’s all good.

Truth be known, it doesn’t actually hurt more to heal our pain than to hide it. And this is what we must become willing to do if we want to open fully and feel the restorative and enlivening pleasures of love.

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Much of this journey to the oneness just described takes place underground, so to speak, inside ourselves. And on a spiritual journey, we typically sign up with a tour guide—a spiritual teacher—who is going to take us in. This is a fairly recent turn of events, in humanity’s timeline. We haven’t always been so introspective.

Back in the day, when various religions came into existence, God was found outside of ourselves. For Christians, we have gone to church to pray—to find God there. And often we believe we need an intermediary—a priest or a preacher of some type—to do the praying for us.

People in spiritual circles are often quick to disassociate themselves from all this, assuring others that they not “religious.” To them, being religious means to blindly accept a bunch of dogma that frankly doesn’t hold a lot of water.

The word “religion” really means “re-connection with God.” And whether we know it or not, everybody wants this. We all, in fact, essentially do have a God-shaped hole in our souls, and all unfulfilled longing is basically nothing other than a wish to get back to God. We need what only God can give us—an absolute truth that transcends all our human mixed-up ways. The more we’re aware of this, the more easily we follow a flow that will help us to find it.

Truth is, this can happen through anything we do that opens inner doors to finding our true selves. Because that inner essence, well, that is God. However we get there, and there are many, many roads that all lead to Home, if we get caught up in the deviations and minor errors—and every single road has some potholes—we can get lost. No matter what route we take, we’re going to need help from the outside. No one can do this work alone—whether it’s the inner work of healing the soul, or the outer work of helping heal the planet.

Outside help gives us the materials we need to use for constructing—or reconstructing—our own house. We must ask to receive these tools—this spiritual help. Whether it comes to us in the form of religion or a spiritual retreat depends on us and what we want and are ready to receive. But we all need to have something to work with. Some of us are just lazy and could be doing a lot more with what’s available to us. Part of our work is to truly knock. If we will just do that, the door will always be opened. This is a spiritual law.

So back to this out-picturing of God and therefore of duality. Religion symbolizes the struggle between opposites as the struggle between God and the devil. Confusion sets in when we can no longer sort out the difference. The polar pull between physical pleasure and “being good” is an example. How are these opposites again?

In truth, there is a great battle going on between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, which we’ll discuss in great detail later. And one of the evil ways used by the forces of darkness is this type of confusion. As long as we cling blindly to a faith we hope will save us from sin, we’re stuck in the mud.

How to get out of this? As mentioned, we have to find our way to the light of truth. We also need to understand what is responsible, at least in part, for our having created duality out of a single unified core to begin with. Yes, we did that.

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