Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Transcending Duality

Very often the essence of spirituality is described as transcending duality but what does the transcending of duality actually entail? In the Upanishads, which is where the concept probably originates (in terms of a written down source anyway), it implies the full realisation that God and the soul are one, Atman is Brahman, and that remains the truth behind all lesser truths. However I would like to propose a slightly different interpretation here, one perhaps more immediately accessible to the ordinary spiritual aspirant.
In the normal course of events everything we do is a matter of choice and that is because we have, as it puts it in the Bible, eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Otherwise stated, we live in a world of opposites, and we do so because we function through the mind. We live in thought. When we lose contact with our spiritual self we are no longer conscious of reality as it is. We see it through veils and must perforce interpret it according to our current perceptions. Adrift from the pre-lapsarian oneness with life we build a separate self, and this separate self or ego is now the centre of our universe. We cannot respond directly to life any more as we have divided ourselves out from it and so now we must relate to it dualistically. That is, there is us, the subject, and the world out there which is the object and the two are disconnected; not truly disconnected, of course, but that’s the way it seems to us. Once we are in the dualistic state of consciousness everything is relative. Everything depends on our own perception of things but our perception is fractured because of our identification with a limited part rather than the whole. We cannot see clearly until we shift the centre of our being and the focal point of our awareness upwards and out of the limited self to a higher state in which our relationship to the whole is one of union. Initially this is the soul which is not separate from God. Ultimately it is God Himself.

It is the initial phase I wish to talk about here because that is the phase in front of most of us. Most spiritual seekers are awakening to the reality of the soul. Either they have an intuition as to its existence or else they have had an experience in which that existence is made plain. Their work then is to bring the so called lower self, which is the mind/personality we normally identify with, into line with the soul. And that requires a complete shift in focus. This is the real reason for meditation which is not a method to attain higher states of consciousness but a way to enable the mind to be brought into harmony with the soul so that eventually it becomes what it should be which is a vessel for the soul. The mind has two main functions. One is to enable the soul to experience the material world, and the other is to give concrete expression to the awareness of the soul whilst it is in that world. That second function of mind is not what takes place at the moment. Now, for the great majority of us, it lives by its own light and that light does not come from the central spiritual sun directly (that is, from God via the soul) but is reflected through the ego which is constructed out of the mind’s own experiences and memory, and so is personal therefore limited. The mind lives in a world of opposites and relative truths. This is duality. The soul, on the other hand, lives in the reality of God, from whom it is distinct but not separate, and as a consequence it simply sees what is without that perception being distorted by personal bias or limitation. There is no choice for the God-centred soul because there is no duality. There is only the truth of God.

The Masters constantly stressed to me the importance of developing and listening to intuition, whilst also making clear the need to distinguish that from wishful thinking which is by no means as easy as it may sound - witness the many eccentricities, illusions and fantasies to be found in spiritual groups. What protects us from falling prey to these is what used to be known as the fear of God. That is to say, a proper sense of one’s personal insignificance coupled with a love of truth and a deep reverence for the divine. Intuition is the forerunner to the complete knowledge of the soul. It is how that knowledge comes to us while we are still mind-bound creatures. It is direct perception of what is above the uncertainties of choice and the duality which is the inevitable outcome of the materialistic nature of the mind. Why materialistic? Because the mind functions in the world of form. Constructed from the past, it is consequently the product of time and however much knowledge it may accrue it can never see truth directly as that can only be done from a level above time and the separate self.

So transcending duality means transcending thought and perceiving intuitively for in intuition there are no opposites and no opinion. There is only the revelation of the real. Now this is not achieved all in one go. It is a long and gradual process during which the intuition might initially be experienced only sporadically and within the context of thought, often distorted by thought as it is translated into mental terms and misinterpreted by thought according to its own prejudices and preconceptions. But the more faithful one is to one’s higher nature and the more one avoids appropriating the insights of the intuition to the personal self, the more the mind will be brought under the soul’s sway until the point is reached when mind simply becomes the vehicle through which intuition expresses itself in the phenomenal world.

So we can start right now to transcend duality by developing the intuition which we do through meditation, worldly detachment and even the contemplation of nature. But be warned. This will put you in touch with divine principles and that will put you at odds with many things in the contemporary world which is largely based on denial of those principles. If you would be guided by intuition you must be prepared to stand alone.


Paul Hillman said...

The spiritual quest in a nutshell, clear and unwavering as always. Thank you, William. The outer self stands between us and awareness in its pure form. We mistake our outer selves for our true self.Intuition is so easy to disregard and misinterpret if we harbour grandiose expectations about its nature, it seems.

William Wildblood said...

The intuition is marked by a purity and simplicity that shows its source to be at the very centre of things. But, as you rightly say Paul, it's easy to disregard amidst the hubbub of the worldly mind, and equally easy to misinterpret if we if we take it to be our possession.