Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Thought: Non-Duality

For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. -Galatians 3:26-28

Several of my brothers are deep thinkers.  One of them has been pondering "non-duality".  He bounced the concept off of me and asked for my thoughts.  Being an economical person, I decided to get double-duty out of his request and use it for a Sunday blog post.

Please understand that this post is aimed at one brother.  I am not laying any burdens on my other readers.  I am simply addressing my brother's request.

The world created by thought, the world of words, language, and concepts, is the world of opposites‘Up and down’, ‘this or that’, ‘inside and outside’, ‘right and wrong’, ‘black and white’, ‘true and false’, ‘positive and negative’, ‘me and you’ and so on. The world of words, language, thoughts, concepts, is a dualistic world of apparent opposites.  - Jeff Foster

Bullshit Bingo

We have all encountered people who strung buzz-words together and assumed they were thinking.  In their mind's eye, they were crafting a delicate masterpiece of intricately fitting pieces.  Those of us in the audience heard them mashing together shapeless blobs of modeling clay.

Key point:  Words don't always do what we wish.  Words can mask and hide rather than guide and inform....and we are often oblivious to the deception.  "Non-duality" points out that we can be trapped by our words.

The Stanford Prison Experiment is the classic experiment that people reference when they want to point out the power of labels.

Non-duality carefully avoids using labels because one unknowingly adopts (and endorses the validity of) the labeler's worldviews when using those labels.  Using society's labels is an act of abdicating power.

Identity politics
We see the power of labeling in identity politics.  Manipulators use labeling because it works.

If you let all of the Gorilla dust settle out of the air, it becomes clear that all identity politics is an effort to separate the world into "Us" and "Them".  And what a coincidence, the few "Us" is always on the same side of the fence with the loot while the many "Them" can only look on.

Labels allow people to turn other humans into objects.  The advantage of treating humans as objects is that it is an efficient way to interact with the vast numbers of people we see each day.  Throwing away the convenience of duality is not entirely practical for the "receptionist" who must deal with "patients" each day.  Perhaps the best we can hope for is to question the default dualities when we interact with the people we hold closest.

Emotion-Rational spectrum
I want to throw out an example to make "my take" on Non-duality more concrete.

"Everybody" will tell you that there is a spectrum from Emotional-to-Rational.  That is an artificial duality.

Why not say that there is a spectrum from Sexual Tension-to-Rational, or Tight Shoes-to-Rational, or Low Fiber Diets-to-Rational?  After all, my personal experience validates that I cannot think when my shoes hurt or I am constipated.
A "non-dualistic" model might be to say that Rational is the front wheels of the pickup truck and Emotion are the rear wheels.  The front wheels usually control the direction of the truck while the rear wheels provide the power.  Every once in a while the rear wheels overpower the front wheels and things go sideways.

Which model is more useful?  The dualistic model with its artificial spectrum or the pickup truck model?  That is something each person has to decide for themselves.


  1. Interesting post- IMHO, duality is a fact of life for just about everyone. The choices one makes each day only reinforce that. Few people are actually able to concentrate on a single idea/thought/position for over three minutes without the mind (subconscious?) interjecting options...


    Speaking of duality....