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beyond duality
Answer
8/3/19 3:57 PM
   Recent discussion of non-existent "beyond nonduality" having the circularity of a dog chasing its tail, it might be useful to discuss instead the real problem of escaping duality.

   The first step is to recognize the problem. In buddhism, we begin with the fact of suffering. Suffering is significant because we love pleasure and praise, and hate being deprived and criticized. The more passionately we pursue fame and fortune, the more we suffer their absence. Thus action (karma) is seen as self-defeating, and existence as a burden to be shrugged off at the first opportunity. The wheel of the dharma is turned.

   The solution to the problem, in terms of the second turning of the wheel, mahayana, is expressed in the key parable of the burning house. Children have locked themselves in a house which is on fire and will destroy them if they do not escape. A sage standing outside will tell them anything to get them to quit the house. "Truth" in mahayana is pragmatic widom: whatever works to get the children out is right and good, and truth as such is secondary to saving the children. Compassion is stressed over being too dependent on reason and "wisdom" so elaborate that the heart of simple human kindness is lost.

   In the light of nonduality, the (frantic, fevered) pursuit of pleasures and rewards is "the burning house," a place of misery and conflict leading to destruction. The "burning house" itself, being nondualistic, represents both the individual soul and all of human society. As individuals, we are burning - think of the combustion of carbon into carbon dioxide: that's us, as bodies, slowly burning. And our society - the individual as "us" - is self-destructing before our eyes, of a certainty not self-sustaining and on a trajectory that can only lead to severe restraints.

   Saving ourselves and saving others are not two. 

   Thus, we begin, caught in dualism and recognizing the fact, with trying to save ourselves from saving ourselves; that is, trying to free ourselves from dualistic thinking and perception. From the start the problem appears to be the fact that all of our companions are caught in dualism, and for the most part have no idea that dualistic views are in the least problematic. In order to interact with them at all we need to adopt a dualistic viewpoint. The first (dualistic) division being between nonduality and duality.

    Heraclitus says: "Though the logos is common, the many live as if they had a wisdom of their own." Caught in dualism, the many (hoi polloi) cherish their own opinions, and when the truth approaches them it seems just another person's opinion, as worthless as their own. This sort of thinking is characteristic of a decadent society, composed of disordered souls. Order in society, which is good health and intelligence, is the same as order in the souls of its constituents. The 8fold path, within and without.

   Plato, with exquisite irony, introduces the idea of brotherhood to decadent athenians as "the phoenician lie," a tale told by poets and in olden times once believed by simple folk. In the light of dependent origination (nonduality) the idea that "all men are brothers" is simply the way it is. 

   In noduality there is no separation, so to overcome dualism we need to overcome separation. But that doesn't make sense: there is nothing to overcome. This tension is extremely important, of the essence. There really is no separation, and there is nothing that needs to be done about this non-problem. But from a dualistic standpoint, people are suffering and divided by loneliness and oppression, and need saved. This is why everything we do about this is of the nature of a joke, and funny. One can only feel a degree of self-mockery in any idea of helping others. In truth we need to be grateful if any generous soul allows us to help them. Only then can we be "good people." And live in a better society.

   Nondualistically we are everyman. Like bob dylan said: "I'm just average, common too/ I'm just like him and the same as you/ I'm everybody's brother and son/ I ain't different from anyone/ Ain't no use talking to me, it's just the same as talking to you." If we embody the nondualistic standpoint (so to speak), we know we are just "us," a "part of the continent, a piece of the main" (donne). In conversation, in dialectic, we need to adopt a dualistic standpoint, while staying inwardly silent and unconfused.

   So, we are faced with the problem of dealing with dualistic oppositions, maintaining equanimity within and harmony without. We have kindled a torch, and this presents problems. The light bothers the common man who has become comfortable hiding his sins, vanity and incoherence in the darkness. And the sage is night-blinded by her own torch: the hoi polloi see better in the darkness than she does. Nonetheless, all the sage can do is try to deal with each confusion, distraction and doubt with the appropriate counter or remedy. 

   The person (we are many, though few) who knows the truth and wants to maintain this knowledge is in great difficulty in our global babylon. One must be "wise as a serpent, and mild as a dove." In dualism, the world has higher and lower aspects. The lower is the general ignorance which sees only individual desire and its effects, and ascribes to reality ones own tiny selfish reactions, aka good and bad. The higher is the vision of the one true light, which makes all things appear and provides their generative power. The sun. The common/cosmic heart-mind.

   You might say their are two phases, recognizing nonduality truly, and then bringing the fundamental insight to bear in "real life" (dualistic conformity, aka "the prison," the cave). The "way" is silence. Actually being silent may or may not be literally realized. In nonduality, remember, the one individual self and the one human society are one one. "Silence" as realized in a group (of any size) involves a harmony of souls, in which individuality is dissolved. Opinions dissolve in the (shared) light of truth, the dharma. Truth makes us One Being.

   I want to say something about how this is practiced, but everyone has their own way. In "nonduality," the path is the goal, and here we are, whole, pristine, perfect. A the same time, in duality, we have so long a way to go on our path that the goal is lost to sight. This is equally true of human society, as we are not two.

   We're all in the same boat, kids; and the boat is empty.

terry




from eric voegelin, "plato and aristotle" pp 167-169:


Socrates tells to his friends the Parable of the Cave:

(1) Human beings are chained in a cave, with their faces to the wall. Behind them the cave rises towards an opening, with a blazing fire at a distance. Between the fire and the prisoners is a low wall, behind which persons are passing, holding up vessels, statues, and figures of animals so that they protrude above the wall. The prisoners see nothing but the shadows on the wall of the cave before them, their own shadows as well as the shadows of the objects protruding above the wall. To the prisoners truth would be nothing but the shadows of themselves and the objects( 514–515).

(2) In the second part of the Parable one of the prisoners is released from his bonds and forced to stand up suddenly, to turn around to walk, and to lift his eyes toward the light.The experience is painful. The glare of the fire will dazzle him. And at first he will be inclined to consider the shadows true reality, and the real objects distortions (515).

(3) In the third part the prisoner is dragged up to the mouth of the cave and has to face the upper world and the light itself. He advances in his power of vision from the shadows to the real objects, and further to the source of light itself. And he finally recognizes the sun as the lord of the visible world and, in a sense, as the ultimate creator of all things that he saw in his prison (516). Once he has seen the light, he is reluctant to return to the cave and to his fellow prisoners.They had a practice of conferring honors on those who best observed the sequence of shadows and who could, on the basis of their observations, guess the ones that would appear next. He no  longer has the taste for such wisdom and such honors; and he endures anything rather than return to that miserable life.

(4) In the fourth part, however, the prisoner is taken back to his former seat among his fellow prisoners. He finds it difficult to adjust himself again to the darkness. He is a ridiculous figure among his companions, who never left their places, for he no longer is as alert as they are at the game of the shadows. They scoff at him because he has lost his sight in the ascent; they think it better not to ascend at all than to return in such a condition. And if he tries to loosen others from their shackles, they lay hands on the offender if they can and put him to death (516–517).

RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/4/19 9:00 AM as a reply to terry.
Very nice commentary, terry. It reminds me of the Ten Oxherding Pictures.

RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/5/19 12:04 PM as a reply to terry.
The Unicorn
(the irish rovers)

A long time ago, when the earth was still green
And there were more kinds of animals than you've ever seen
They'd run around free while the earth was being born
But the loveliest of all was the unicorn
There was green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty-backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
The loveliest of all was the unicorn
Now god seen some sinnin' and it gave him pain
And he says, "stand back, I'm going to make it rain"
He says, "hey, brother Noah, I'll tell you what to do
Build me a floating zoo
And take some of them green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty-backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
Don't you forget my unicorn"
Old Noah was there to answer the call
He finished up making the ark just as the rain started fallin'
He marched in the animals two by two
And he called out as they went through
"Hey, Lord
I've got your green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty-backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but Lord, I'm so forlorn
I just can't see no unicorn"
Then Noah looked out through the driving rain
Them unicorns was hiding, playing silly games
Kicking and splashing while the rain was pouring
Oh, them silly unicorns
There was green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty-backed camels and some chimpanzees
Noah cried, "close the doors 'cause the rain is pourin'
And we just can't wait for no unicorns"
The ark started movin', it drifted with the tide
Them unicorns looked up from the rock and they cried
And the waters came down and sort of floated them away
And that's why you'll never see a unicorn, to this very day
You'll see green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty-backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
You're never gonna see no unicorn

Songwriters: Shel Silverstein

RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/5/19 12:47 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Very nice commentary, terry. It reminds me of the Ten Oxherding Pictures.


you are generous, my friend...


perhaps this:


Since space has collapsed, how can obstacles remain?

Could a snowflake survive inside a burning flame?

You cheerfully come and go: How could you not always laugh?


and this:


Ragged and bare-footed, you approach the market and the streets.

Even covered in dust, why would the laughter cease?

The bees and buttterflies are happy because flowers have bloomed on a withered tree.

RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/5/19 2:25 PM as a reply to terry.
‘I could tell you my adventures–beginning from this morning,’ said Alice a little timidly: ‘but it’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.’

“Who are YOU?” said the Caterpillar. 
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

“I’m not crazy. My reality is just different than yours.”

RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/5/19 10:25 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
‘I could tell you my adventures–beginning from this morning,’ said Alice a little timidly: ‘but it’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.’

“Who are YOU?” said the Caterpillar. 
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

“I’m not crazy. My reality is just different than yours.”



‘That is not said right,’ said the Caterpillar.
‘Not quite right, I’m afraid,’ said Alice, timidly; ‘some of the words have got altered.’
‘It is wrong from beginning to end,’ said the Caterpillar decidedly, and there was silence for some minutes.
The Caterpillar was the first to speak.
‘What size do you want to be?’ it asked.
‘Oh, I’m not particular as to size,’ Alice hastily replied; ‘only one doesn’t like changing so often, you know.’
‘I don’t know,’ said the Caterpillar.
Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper.
‘Are you content now?’ said the Caterpillar.
‘Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir, if you wouldn’t mind,’ said Alice: ‘three inches is such a wretched height to be.’
‘It is a very good height indeed!’ said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).
‘But I’m not used to it!’ pleaded poor Alice in a piteous tone. And she thought of herself, ‘I wish the creatures wouldn’t be so easily offended!’
‘You’ll get used to it in time,’ said the Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its mouth and began smoking again.
This time Alice waited patiently until it chose to speak again. In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away in the grass, merely remarking as it went, ‘One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.’
‘One side of what? The other side of what?’ thought Alice to herself.
‘Of the mushroom,’ said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment it was out of sight.

RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/6/19 6:58 AM as a reply to terry.
When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be.


RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/12/19 1:41 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be.


   Don't think of the fork, only think of the truth.

   What is the truth?

   There is no fork.


In a perfect world, there is no being.

RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/12/19 2:26 PM as a reply to terry.
You know those were quotes from Yogi Berra, right?

RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/13/19 4:05 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
You know those were quotes from Yogi Berra, right?


you know I was paraphrasing the spoon-bending scene from the matrix, right?

("never answer an anonymous letter")

RE: beyond duality
Answer
8/14/19 11:03 AM as a reply to terry.
Yes, I caught your Matrix reference!

I'm slow but not quite that slow.... yet.

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