SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do we remain watchful of the tendency to separate and own, while inculcating an impulse to unify and belong? Can you share a personal experience where you felt the tension between these two opposites? How do we keep joined the wings of things that can free us?
Dear Conrad. I have let your comment seep in and it's now quite obvious I must reconsider my position. Thank you for mirroring the fact that the want to dissolve contradiction only leads to further and more radical separation. I am usually a bit more attentive to context but I completely missed out on what the author was pointing at, shooting off in a direction the context didn't call for. I can see that this is symptomatic of a reluctance to bear with the discomfort or tension that goes with contradiction. That this wanting to achieve a false sense of peace deadens relationship, and leads to isolation.
Thanks also to Krysztof for his suggestion about 'going raw' as opposed to 'going mental', an escape to avoid feeling those things on feels uncomfortable with under the skin. A movement away from what is that creates separation.
And thanks to Amy for her appreciation of Britt's beautiful comment. It had me look more deeply into it.
Thanks to all who share this space.
I appreciate the example AND the irony in making a distinction between Colombus and Jung to make the point about making distinctions (separating), which underscores the difficulty in 'discussing' (or reasoning in general, which so often engages distinctions and separation). However, without being an expert, it seems another useful and interesting distinction can be made between explorers: Columbus, as noted, and Marco Polo. Columbus returned from his journeys essentially unchanged, whereas Marco Polo returned having adopted many of the customs, wardrobes, and beliefs of the places he'd been to. My understanding is that he paid a price for this adoption on returning home. Polo seems me to have been a true explorer. On another note, I've been fascinated for some time with what appears to be a reverse notion of 'ownership' held by many indigenous peoples. To put it simply, in many cases, indigenous peoples view themselves as being 'owned' by the land and the animals - a profound sense of belonging, within which the modern concept of 'ownership' is unthinkable. On reflection, I have come to suspect our notions of private property and ownership may be rooted in our language, that is, in our Indo-European proclivity for using nouns, which creates an idea of 'things', which leads to the idea that things are commodities to be owned, sold, traded, manipulated, etc. Traditional indigenous thinking seems to have lacked nouns, and were characterized by verb-oriented languages (see Benjamin Whorf's work on Navajo language).[Hide Full Comment]
I see this same dichotomy in Iain McGilchrist's recent work The Master and His Emissary, in which he proposes that the difference between our brain's two hemispheres is in how their perceive, the left being detailed-oriented and the right being whole-oriented. It's a beautiful idea, exquisitely researched and articulate in his book, but more digestible in a 12-minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs9WO2B8uI.
Thank you for your feedback Conrad. There is little tolerance in our culture for contradiction and ambiguity and this tendency reflects in some or may be all of my comments. I'll be looking into that. Thank you.
I have very much appreciated your frequent profound thoughts. What appears below you might find interesting.
Joss Whedon, in his 2013, Wesleyan University commencement address said: “[Our culture] is not long on contradiction or ambiguity. … It likes things to be simple, it likes things to be pigeonholed—good or bad, black or white, blue or red. And we’re not that. We’re more interesting than that. And the way that we go into the world understanding is to have these contradictions in ourselves and see them in other people and not judge them for it. To know that, in a world where debate has kind of fallen away and given way to shouting and bullying, that the best thing is not just the idea of honest debate, the best thing is losing the debate, because it means that you learn something and you changed your position. The only way really to understand your position and its worth is to understand the opposite…This contradiction, and this tension … it never goes away. And if you think that achieving something, if you think that solving something, if you think a career or a relationship will quiet that voice, it will not. If you think that happiness means total peace, you will never be happy. Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. It will always be in conflict. If you accept that, everything gets a lot better.”Warm and kind regards to everyone.
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What a lovely synthesis of polar ideas! And how elegant in its economy of language. An arrow to the both the intellect and the heart.
Beautiful, Britt, as I read you I feel I am in that big sweater with you. You would love Khalil Gibran and his poetry. But I am still confused and must go to the end of that tether, thought.
I can't identify with any set of religious beliefs. Faith has not saved me, it hasn't saved the world. So I rely on thought. Thought will see me through. The irony is I am a non believer that now believes in thought.. Thought proceeds from knowledge and knowledge is both necessary and enjoyable. Pleasurable to follow one's curiosity as far and deep as it can take you. As a result the frontiers of my world expand. Both Columbus and Jung have contributed to it. But the question remains: has knowledge helped me to dissolve my contradictions, has it unified me, has it unified the world I live in? Can it? Because if it can't then I am constantly deluding myself and my world.
You in your you-ness and me in my me-ness. Skipping around the playground together holding hands. When the bell rings, you can be my teacher and I can be yours. When it gets cold outside, you can give me your sweater and I'll give you mine. Actually, lets just get one really big sweater so we can both fit inside and cuddle. But even if we wear the same sweater and we skip together in perfect rhythm. You stay you and I stay me. And you grow solid and strong like an oak tree. And I grow tall and beautuful like the redwood tree. And I watch you shed your leaves in autumn and grow new ones in the spring. Knowing that all the while your trunk is slowly growing. This is my promise to you.
In every day life and in the world as it goes thought is ever involved in trying to conciliate, unify, forgetting that it itself created the separation in the first place. Thought is always involved in creating and maintaining separation then ever involved in trying to bridge it. This is what it has been doing since Mathusala or near by. Is it because of its nature which is to dissect, take apart, analyse? Yet we tend to rely on thought to solve our relational problems and that of the world. The question is: can thought unify the world, unify me/you? The author says that thought can unfold in a way that unifies and heals. But then, logically and for the least, thought has to see itself, observe how it tends to create separation in its very proceedings. Religion at its root is the thirst to belong, to unify. Then see what the devil happens when thought gets hold of that. So, the question remains, can thought ever unify? There may be such a thing as a unifying insight but then is that related to thought?[Hide Full Comment]
It took me many years to learn that there is no separation or ownership except in my mind. Separation and ownership are a way of perceiving and dealing with all that is. We pretend that we are separate and own. I've come to know that we are each different, but not separate. Infinite Being differentiates into a zillion expressions, and yet we are part of and belong to One/Unity. From what I read, I gather that science is discovering that the cosmos is one living being, with all the different parts interrelated and interdependent. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, interbeing in interisness. I belong, we belong, to this oneness. I do experience a tension between my individuality which I often think of and experience as separate resulting in my comparing and competing, even though I know at a deeper place that I am not separate but together with all which I experience as being part of and belonging. I know I am both, individual and belonging. I think of me as 'not one, not two, and one and two, not one and two' -- I don't understand it and I know it and accept it as part of the incomprehensible mystery that I live in and lives in me. To me, the fact is we are joined and we are free, though we often don't think or behave that way. It helps me to realize and remind myself that it is only in my mistaken thinking and perception that I/we are not joined and are not free.[Hide Full Comment]
I frequently feel the tension between two opposites.. I feel it's somewhat now. Sometimes I notice I have the tendency to separate and own, and other times I have an impulse to unify and belong. We keep enjoying the wings of things that can free us by being aware which helps us be those wings. Last week, Thierry had such a great statement I copied it. It applies at this moment. It states: ""A beauty of the Indian tradition is to acknowledge that people have different inward complexions and that what is right for one is inadequate for the other. This is why there are different types of Yoga to suit different types of people and help them progress on their way, none being exclusive of another." Thank you for the opportunity to respond. Warm and kind regards to everyone