I am thinking a lot about the duality of life in general lately, and about its existence in our minds, hearts, and relationships.
When I speak about and use the word “duality”, I am referring to the human tendency, especially in present times, to divide things into categories; usually very simple ones, as this often occurs on the subconscious level. Often these divisions are formed for us by our families and teachers when we are very young, and we are taught them, then never think to question them. Or even really consciously know they exist.
We all continue to do this, to some extent, throughout our lives, unless we make the conscious choice not to. Our world is divided up into neat, tidy little mind-columns to correspond to what we were originally taught to believe. Usually, in fact, the things we encounter are decided to “belong” to one of only two categories.
Right or wrong. Black or white. Light or dark. Good or evil. Happy or sad. Earth or sky. Yin or yang. Masculine or feminine. Holy or profane. Physical or spiritual. Mental or emotional. Love or hate.
These groupings, these distinctions can be very helpful, convenient, and even at time justified. You won’t hear me, for example, trying to question your choice of placing child rapists under the “evil” heading.
But (hopefully) you don’t personally encounter child rapists too often in your day to day life.
What you DO, definitely, encounter in your everyday life, just from talking to someone else, reading a book, surfing the web, watching the news, going to work, etc., are plenty of people, places and things that your mind will helpfully (and again, often in a subconscious, automatic way) define as belonging to one (or more) of a few categories. This response is sometimes noticed by your conscious mind – maybe online you read a new story of someone doing something terrible and you think “wow, what a douchebag”.
Other times it’s just an instinctual feeling you notice; maybe you meet someone new at a friends house and just feel an instant connection with them. Maybe you intellectualize it, and are able to say “wow, that person is really funny!”
…But what about them is funny? After all, we all have different senses of humor. I might pee laughing over a joke you think is stupid. Some part of that person hit all the right marks for your subconscious to file them in the “funny” instead of “not funny” category.
And occasionally we’ll encounter someone or something that we don’t really know how we feel about. But our brain doesn’t like that; we don’t like not knowing what we feel. So we forget about that thing (how much time do you spend thinking about something that made you go “meh”?) or we quickly develop an opinion. Every once in a while, someone will take the third route (one especially popular with some) of deciding that having strong feelings about that particular thing is “stupid”, which of course makes them “smart” (probably more smart than you) for NOT feeling strongly about it.
It really isn’t anyone’s fault. This is the way we’re conditioned to think – us vs. them, or at the very least, good vs. bad. So much of mainstream society, culture, and religious thought, is built on the back of a big duality monster.
And it is a monster. A terrible one. Yes, I know there are some instances of great evil in the world that need to be considered as mentioned above, but the rest of the time? How does duality help you? I almost guarantee you it doesn’t. Let me give you a few examples.
In the modern New Age movement, there is a lot of talk of being “only of the light”, or “working with those only of the light” or “surrounding yourself with white light” with protection. I accepted this, thoughtlessly, for a long time. Because light = good, right?
…because white = light = good, right?
…uh oh. Of course, by this logic, black = evil, darkness = evil. This too is discussed and shown in the New Age community (and MANY other spiritual/religious communities, including the big C), with phrases like “I feel a darkness around you”, or “you have like this black, negative energy blocking you!” In magick, there’s “white witches” or “black witches”. Wanna guess which term refers to the bad one?
If you don’t see the problem with this, or even just the inherent racism, let me explain; most new age culture and practice is that of other (non-white) cultures, but that has been thoroughly Anglicized; this means that even what began as non-Christian traditions have ended up taking on this inherited European duality that even those who don’t identify as Christian were born and raised around – good vs. bad, light vs. dark, black vs. white. Not all duality is European in origin, though – I did mention the yin/yang earlier. Rather I should say, it is the tendency of dualistic religions, like Christianity, Judaism, Confucianism, to split the parts of our world in two. This is not a conscious choice, at least not in modern times, usually, anyway. This is all most of us know. What else is there?
….well I’m getting there. But first, let me give you one more example.
This one is one that relates to almost all of you, and myself; masculine and feminine. I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say that most of the things we identify as “masculine” or “feminine”, we identify as such based on our culture. Some physical traits (I.e. a vagina) are universally regarded as feminine, true. But clothing? Personality traits? Mannerisms? Even stereotypical gender roles change from culture to culture – and change slowly as the culture changes. If you ask a white woman in 13th century France if she would like to be a school teacher when she grows up, the thought alone would be ludicrous. It would be illegal, or at least really, really, really a bad idea. If she wasn’t noble, she probably couldn’t even read. If you ask a 19th century white American woman the same question, she’d probably at least consider it, as it was one of the only socially acceptable roles for women in the workplace at the time. Better than working in a textile mill. Meanwhile, at around the same time (13th century), in certain parts of Africa, Kings were chosen based on the elder women of the community. For a woman to feel she couldn’t lead a community, let alone a group of kids, would have been ludicrous. To move forward to the 19th century again, you have your choice of awesome, badass women who defied gender roles, no matter where you go; Nana Asma’u, Qiu Jin, Cathay Williams, Buffalo Calf Road, Mary Treat…and honestly, if you go throw enough history books you find women, and men, challenging their assigned gender roles in all time periods.
The point I’m trying to make is, that most of what we hold to be “universal gender traits” simply aren’t. They may have been around a while, at least in any one particular area. They may be what you’re used to/believe/are comfortable with. But honestly? Your brain looks at someone, and subconsciously, immediately assigns them to a “masculine” or “feminine” category, based on what you were taught those words meant, so long ago. The old duality monster, thinking it knows best. Since you have, most likely, never given much thought to why you think this =that, or if such beliefs are even accurate, why believe them?
Anything you inherently believe, without question, is dangerous. It leads to forming opinions about others that are harmful, for little reason, and opinions about yourself that are devastating. If you were taught long ago that feminine looks, sounds, acts, or thinks like ______, and then you encounter someone who is female, but doesn’t fill that neat little role they were assigned by your subconscious, you will be unsettled by that person. Maybe even dislike them. And your conscious mind will find all sorts of reasons to justify that, so that you don’t have to question yourself. You’ll think they’re rude, or stupid, or evil, but if pressed to describe why, your reasons will be less than logical. I’m not speaking in judgement here; I’ve been there. It’s not pleasant, to eventually realize that deep down, you dislike someone based on what you think they “should be”. It is unfair, and makes you feel like an asshole. But really, you’re only an asshole if you don’t do something to change it.
The same applies with the self; if you are a man, and believe that “real men don’t cry”, even subconsciously, deep down without thinking it, then when you inevitably encounter something sad in your life you will allow yourself no outlet. Or perhaps you won’t be able to hold it in – then you’ll criticize yourself afterwards for being weak. Do you think this is healthy? You’ve assigned a trait as being “feminine”, or at the very least “weak” (though most men I know who think men shouldn’t cry are fine when women do); crying in this instance. Yet it is neither masculine or feminine. It is human. You can be sure that babies, those uninfluenced little rock stars, will cry whenever they feel like it, whether male, female, or hermaphrodite.
…and this is the problem with those who view the Divine Feminine (or Masculine) as archetypes or ideals to strive for, as opposed to an actual Being/Energy. When you think in terms of ideals, you limit yourself to “okay, this is what the Divine Feminine means to me….”. And just stop there. I’ve written a post on my thoughts on this, and eventually settled on the fact that this is a Being because a Being, encompassing all aspects of everything, feels truthful and genuine. A Being may change as She sees fit to do so. When instead you are striving to embody an ideal, you are basically trying to embody what someone taught you “feminine” meant, in its most perfect form to you, and you alone. And since no one can live up to a perfect ideal, you will fail.
Instead, I ask you to try something just as difficult (at least at first) but infinitely more healthy – merge. Instead of deciding which parts of you are good and which are bad, or what in others is wrong and what is right, begin today to cultivate an attitude in yourself of wholeness. The term “holistic” is thrown around a lot, but I notice it still seems to involve a lot of “no, don’t think fearful thoughts!” or “thinking angry thoughts lower your vibration!”
…well maybe if you dwell on your anger all day, every day, sure that’s probably a little unhealthy. But trying to deny that anger as evil, and shoving it away is pretty awful too. Even if it’s anger over something silly, your anger, and the heart it comes from, is trying to tell you something (even if it’s just that you’re taking yourself a little too seriously and need to do something goofy); you need to respect this, listen, even if you don’t like the form the message takes. When we deny ourselves the right to feel, when we catch ourselves in that old duality trap and can’t get out…there be monsters. Suddenly you’re a sinful creature, needing to be saved; or a prejudicial creature, looking down at the sins of others. Or often, both.
It is the same with what is “spiritual” and what is “not spiritual” or, what is “emotional” or “mental” or whatever; you decided long ago what you could accept as “spiritual”.
In reality, all of you is spiritual, and your mind and emotions are one, part of the vehicle that your soul is driving around. You are whole. You are a wide, beautiful range of black, white, red, purple, yellow, green, blue…you only limit and hurt yourself when you try to shut down, in yourself and others, those colors that fall in the “bad” category.
I’m not saying walk around in a murderous rage and be proud of it. I’m saying take that rage and channel it into something constructive. It is part of you. Love it. Listen to the lessons that can be learned from it. Love all of you, and let go of the duality prison you’re trapped inside. Merge.