Giles Fraser on Non-Duality

There is a fascinating idea in the remarkable 13th-century Kabbalist text known as the Zohar. Moral evil, the author writes, is “always either something that becomes separated or isolated, or something that enters into a relation for which it is not made”.

Giles Fraser has written an engaging piece in today’s Guardian on the issue of greed (or “evil” more generally) that brings to mind what I’ve taken to calling “Khayyam’s Caution” after the Persian poet Omar Khayyam — “only a hair separates the false from the true”.

I’m particularly struck, in the extract I’ve quoted above, by the Kabbalist’s definition of evil as “always either something that becomes separated or isolated, or something that enters into a relation for which it is not made“. Interestingly, that definition comes very close to what Jean Gebser has described, too, as the state of “deficient rationality”, or what Seth also suggested in saying that ego consciousness has become separated or isolated from its roots, as examined two postings ago, “Ego consciousness must now be familiarized with its roots, or it will turn into something else.” My fear being that it will be something more akin to the Borg of Star Trek lore.

In the last post, I discussed “the loss of vital centre” as a theme in much recent literature. This is another aspect of “the vital centre” or “roots” — it is the place of non-duality, where Being is not divided against itself dichotomously as Jekyll and Hyde were divided. The roots or vital centre is place of the unity of opposites or “coincidentia oppositorum” — the co-incidence of opposites.

To the divided and disintegrate psyche, all existence appears as something divided against itself in seemingly perpetual conflict. So convinced is the mind that existence is a perpetual clash and conflict of opposites that human beings have structured their institutions and societies to reflect this — which is but their own divided and dichotomous nature reconstructed on a mass scale. It is the world constructed by a mind that has become compartmentalised, and which thinks only in dualisms.

But we are reminded by Seth, by Gebser, by William Blake, by Rumi, by Nicholas of Cusa (On Learned Ignorance), by Omar Khayyam, amongst others, that beneath and behind the appearances or “camouflage” universe, the unity of opposites prevails and Being is not divided against itself in this way.

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8 responses to “Giles Fraser on Non-Duality”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    Now for something completely different, in a way….

    Animals are quite remarkable, and this bear is a genius amongst bears.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/06/06/bc-bear-car.html?cmp=googleeditorspick&google_editors_picks=true

    • LittleBigMan says :

      I have a picture of me where a squirrel is sitting on my shoulder, chewing on some lightly salted nuts I was giving it out of my can of “Planters Mixed Nuts.” 🙂

      As Seth said in “The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events”:

      “There are also emotional interactions among animals that completely escape you.” (p. 44):

      Here in this clip we see some evidence of this type of emotional interaction:

      • Scott Preston says :

        Here’s an interesting thing to consider: amongst North American natives, the bear was perhaps the closest relative to the human. And as you can see from the video clip, it was very human-like in its actions.

        Amongst shamans, the tree is considered the closest relative to the human. This seems to find some correspondence with William Blake’s view. The only reason I can think why is that the “tree” resembles the nervous system, and may therefore have some more than metaphorical association with the Biblical “Tree of Life” and “Tree of Knowledge”.

        Amongst Modern Europeans, the ape is considered the closest relative to man. Hmmm… that might speak for itself. For at one time, in the past of the tribes, it was also the tree that was deemed most kin to man.

        Again, none of this is false. It reflects Gebser’s “structures of consciousness”.

        • LittleBigMan says :

          “Amongst shamans, the tree is considered the closest relative to the human. This seems to find some correspondence with William Blake’s view. The only reason I can think why is that the “tree” resembles the nervous system, and may therefore have some more than metaphorical association with the Biblical “Tree of Life” and “Tree of Knowledge”.

          Lately, I have been focusing on individual concepts. One of those concepts was the concept of a “tree,” where I asked myself ‘What is it? And why don Juan told Castaneda that a tree is a different thing to a crow than it is to us?”

          I settled on the idea that a tree is truly like a human in the sense that it is here to gather knowledge. It gathers a different type of knowledge, neverthless, it’s gathering knowledge like the air tempertaure, sun exposure, level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air, wind direction. These National Geographic Photographers often station a camera at a point for months to collect information on what is happening at a certain location in the wild. So, I think “the tree of knowledge” is a very apt way of describing a tree.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    From Giles Fraser’s article:

    “A banker’s life is often a sad, alienated existence, largely cut off from the rich diversity of human experience”

    Just the other day I was listening to a radio program on KQED station here in the Bay Area that discussed “Colony Collapse Disorder” among honeybee colonies. The expert that was being interviewed said that they had found that the healthier a bee colony the more diverse its members.

    Genuine tolerance of ideas and various possibilities and potentials is the only prerequisite for inclusivity and diversity.

    By the way, KQED is an affiliate of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in America and their programs are usually top of the line. On average, they usually have one program a week on consciousness, for example. If anyone interested, their programs are available online live at this link:
    http://www.kqed.org/radio/

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    This next video clip does not have optimal sound or picture quality. Plus it’s nearly 2.5 hours. I definitely don’t recommend watching the entire thing because we have discussed most of its content at one time or another. However, I found these two segments of it quite interesting which I would recommend:

    From 1:06:16 to 1:45:00
    From 1:57:17 to 2:16:20

  4. amothman33 says :

    When knowledge is separated from its divine root and seeing becomes the dominant tool of perception, and the messangers of the divine are thrown out of the window and the human start considering himself the source of everything, this ugly arrogance it is expected that moral evil prevails . The perfectly measured universe will react and it is reacting through all types of crisis. Crisis that are being talked about by the wise men of our world.It is a frightening scene.When are we going to start be honest and stop lying. To Him we all return ,where no money or power will help . Let the heads of the world enjoy dancing while there is time.

  5. LittleBigMan says :

    It just occurred to me to add something more regarding the attribution “Tree of Knowledge,” and indeed how accurate of an interpretation that actually is.

    Some three years back I was on a hike here in the Bay Area. I now forget the name of the park, but there’s a local park (and there are many of them around here) where a giant redwood tree was cut and the very bottom portion of its trunk was framed and hung at a visitors’ stop.

    The whole thing looked like a giant round table to me at the time. But now that I think about it, what it really was, and what has taken me all these years to figure out, is that it really looked like a humungous “hard drive.”

    I mean when you looked at the cross section of the trunk, you saw all these numerous concentric circles that not only showed the age of the tree — which was something over 3000 years — but also a botanist could examine the rings in the tree’s cross section and tell from those rings about the climatic conditions and composition of the water resources of the region at the time the rings were formed. A quite of a hard drive, indeed. And again, how apt it is to consider trees as entities that collect and store knowledge; just like human beings.

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