Non-Duality

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”

Rumi

There is an evident problem in the functioning of human consciousness in the Late Modern Era. Some hold that the multiplying social and personal crises of the times are actually altogether a spiritual crisis or a crisis of consciousness at root — a crisis of fragmentation, atomisation, and disintegration of the modern self and its consciousness structure. This seems evidently the case. There is, as we witness, great anxiety and Angst and extremes of paranoia and insecurity about what we call “identity” which drives all kinds of projection, scapegoating, racism, and violence. Also quite a lot of mental confusion and cognitive dissonance that some describe as “schizoid” or as “the culture of narcissism”, portents that we are faced with the possible or even imminent collapse of the personality and its consciousness structure and, therewith, its world.

While it is indeed gruesome to see and hear this decay and disintegration around us every day, there are many who also say “fear not”. Despite the chaos and confusion you see about you, and perhaps even within you, the seeming loss of self, identity, familiarity and orientation — is an aspect of an essential transformation of consciousness and a passage of initiation into a new consciousness structure with many more faculties and resources than we have used hitherto.

Many hold that the present crisis and the essential deficiency of consciousness lies in our mental tendencies to think in terms of mutually incommensurate and exclusive “dualisms” of the “either/or” type (Jean Gebser certainly notes this as a main feature of the “deficient mode” of the “mental-rational consciousness” in his book The Ever-Present Origin). Being (or Origin) is not divided against itself in such a way that it would negate itself, which is essentially what physicist David Bohm means by describing fundamental reality as “undivided wholeness in flowing movement”. That is to say, non-duality is the root truth of reality, which Buddhists call “Absolute Truth” as distinct from “Relative Truth”. This “undivided wholeness in flowing movement” (Wholeness and the Implicate Order), is essentially what Jean Gebser also calls “the archaic consciousness structure”, also called “ever-present origin” and therefore of “time-freedom”.

There are, then, quite a few indications of the new consciousness structure emerging from amidst the ruins and detritus of the old structure — an essential transformation of consciousness structure. Much of the evidence for this transformation-in-process lies in the paradoxes of the quantum world and quantum physics. It needs to be pointed out, still, that none of the new insights into fundamental reality represented in quantum physics could not have been perceived at all unless there was already a shift in the perceptual capabilities of consciousness. It’s probably more correct to say that some alteration in the consciousness structure and its mode of perception led to quantum physics rather than quantum physics leading to an alteration of the consciousness structure (essentially away from mind-body, spirit-matter, subject-object dualisms, and so on). What we have now, essentially, is an energy-information complementarity as fundamental reality and NOT a “mind-body problem”. Therewith “fields” (energy fields) are now understood to be prior to what we call “particles”.

Dualism and false dichotomies appear to be the root cause (and root assumption) of many social and personal problems in contemporary consciousness and society, not least of which is the extremity of polarisation. In view of this I find a seemingly simple act by the ostensible father of quantum physics to be highly signficant, for he took the Taoist symbol of the unity and complementarity of the opposites into his personal coat of arms, a clear statement that he had overcome dualism in his own thinking

Niels Bohr’s Coat of Arms

It is a small gesture, perhaps, but with enormous significance for this symbol recalls also the “hieros gamos” (or “sacred wedding”) or “Rebis” symbol of the formerly rejected philosophy and science of Hermeticism and alchemy which were so antithetical to Cartesian metaphysical dualism.

Rebis. The hieros gamos.

Essentially, these two symbols have the same meaning — the yin and the yang, the woof and the weft of the weaver, the conjunction of the opposites or what is called “coincidentia oppositorum“, much explored by Jung as well that informs his principle of “enantiodromia“. Einstein’s integration of space and time into spacetime is also this interweaving of the woof and the warp of the cosmic tapestry (and Brian Greene rightly calls his book on cosmology The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality).

We observe, then, that just as the fragmenting and disintegrative tendency in consciousness and society was gaining momentum, a contrary tendency was emerging in the form of a new integration, based on the insight into an essential non-duality, and one that meets William Blake’s own earlier anticipations of a “new age” aborning as his “Marriage of Heaven and Hell” which not only anticipates Nietzsche’s stance “beyond good and evil” but reflects Rumi’s earlier remark cited as the lead into this post. Rumi’s “field” is Gebser’s “ever-present origin” and also physicist David Bohm’s “undivided wholeness in flowing movement”.

We have also noted here, in previous posts, the significance of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s social philosophy in this regard, which also arose coincident with Einstein’s spacetime integration. Rosenstock-Huessy’s major concern lies in the breakdown of what he calls society’s “cross of reality” (essentially a mandala) and its restoration after a social catastrophe. Here again it is helpful to think about Rosenstock-Huessy’s model as representing the woof and the weft. This likewise is an integral approach to consciousness and society which was already, in his view, performed by human grammar and articulating grammatical speech.

So, even though time has contrary aspects of past and future, and space has contrary aspects as inner and outer, subject and object, in the larger scheme they work together to maintain the coherence of the cross of reality. I should point out, too, that William Blake’s “New Jerusalem” also has this quadrilateral structure, also a mandala, in keeping with his mythology of the “four Zoas” and his own “fourfold vision”. Likewise I would note Iain McGilchrist’s remarkable work on neurodynamics and the divided brain as in this stream of development we refer to as “integral consciousness”.

It is, perhaps, enough to note for the time being that what we call the “Modern Mind” has exhausted its possibilities for further articulation, and that this situation is sensed by many today. It is what Charles Taylor refers to as “The Malaise of Modernity“. Well, that “malaise” is practically everywhere, and it won’t do to whip a dead horse to try to make it come back to life, as Mr. Pinker does.

All I can offer here to those feeling alarmed by the present state of affairs and the seeming madness of Late Modernity is to note that what is called “the early Renaissance” was likewise taking shape amidst the decadence and mass madness of the Late Middle Ages, to which our own times and mentalities bear close comparison. There are still pioneers of a new (integral) saner consciousness at work in our distressed and diseased times who may be understood as precursors and forerunners for the new transformed consciousness that Gebser (and Blake) anticipated. The transition from Late Middle Ages to Renaissance and early modernity was very turbulent and stressful as well. But as Gebser advises, keep your attention on the manifestations of the new rather than the decay and disease of the old, even if the noise of the dying old era seems to drown out the more sober voices of the new era.

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8 responses to “Non-Duality”

  1. barryh says :

    Reblogged this on I can't believe it! and commented:
    The Chryslis gives a good perspective on modernity, non-duality, and the complementarity of opposites. It’s all about the change of consciousness that we are witnessing in slow motion?

  2. Unknown or Deleted UserSteve says :

    There is a physicist by the name of Anthony Blake who was a friend and student of David Bohm’s. He’s still alive and has written a wonderful book called, ” A Gymnasium Of Beliefs In Higher Intelligence.” I think you would enjoy it a lot.

  3. InfiniteWarrior says :

    I find it helps to think of it in terms of maturation, i.e. we’re growing up as a species. Simple as that and something with which we probably can all relate. Those of us who aren’t still outgrowing egocentricity are outgrowing human-centricity and so on. The “ground of Being” transcends all such centricities, including our “wego” centrictities, if that makes sense. We might not think about it much, but growing up can be terribly painful at times. I can’t dismiss the sheer tragedy of it all as mere “growing pains” as some others do, despite that they are, at least in a sense, growing pains.

    That’s what Clare Graves‘ “emergent cyclical theory of adult human development” was all about, imo, until it became systemized as Spiral Dynamics™ and apparently understood in terms of “levels” of development we can attain through great effort. In fact, I find Graves’ work complementary to Rosenstock-Huessy’s thoughts on the subject. It doesn’t take any effort to grow up. We just do.

    “Integral consciousness” has been described as something we “relax into” rather than attain or achieve. If we fight the process of essentially growing up as a species (and we are, in large part, fighting the process), there’s no question we’re the cause of our own suffering.

    A man once said to Sri Nisargadatta, “Maharaj, your words resonate deep within my heart. I feel their power and know them to be true. But if I am to be honest in describing my experience, I would have to admit that, throughout my life, I’m continuously experiencing suffering!” And Maharaj replied, “No, this is not true. You are not experiencing suffering, you are suffering your experiencing.” ~ Mooji, Before I Am

  4. steve says :

    ” The curse of our present times…is the selfhood imposed on us by and evil world.”

    Henry James Sr.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      If we don’t claim an identity for ourselves, one will be slapped on our foreheads by someone else. Guaranteed. But when’s the last time you required an identity in peaceful, quiet solitude? There’s a great joke about this floating around in the Christian community regarding Christianity’s interdenominational, ideological in-fighting. “Have a label we don’t like? Well, bless God, we’ll cover it up with ours!” lol

      That’s essentially what’s going on the so-called “secular,” social dimension, if anyone were to ask me. Most everyone appears to want to label everyone else as “not me” and, usually, to make themselves feel superior in one way or another to someone else. Speaks loudly to our seemingly insurmountable ego- and wego-centricities. We don’t appear to be much into the “live and let live” philosophy. Rather, many of us seek to legislate our ways of life on other ways of life when legislation should be reserved to curbing those collective excesses mentioned in the post and assisting us in helping rather than hurting one another.

  5. InfiniteWarrior says :

    Therewith “fields” (energy fields) are now understood to be prior to what we call “particles”.

    Once you grok this, you begin to see precisely where the “schism” appears and not without reason: between the two “modes of perception.”

    I’ve been hit directly in the face by one that may make for an excellent example. There is, at present, a schism in the medical research community between two “schools of thought” regarding carcinogenesis: SMT (Somatic Mutation Theory) and TOFT (Tissue Organization Field Theory) that is strikingly reminiscent of our apparent inability to “bridge” classical and quantum physics. TOFT maintains that mutations are an epiphenomenon and not the cause of various cancers. In fact, the vast majority of our research, development and treatment of various cancer types, however, are based on SMT.

    I don’t expect to receive a degree in oncology anytime soon, but if we’re truly listening to proponents of TOFT, are we not essentially treating the symptoms of cancer by basing all our research and treatments on the Somatic Mutation Theory of carcinogenesis? From what I’ve been able to gather and grok in my research, essentially healthy biological processes are being disrupted in cancer patients, which results in the mutations, genetic and otherwise, we can see occuring before our very eyes with various medical scans, tests and measurements.

    What would happen, I wonder, were these two “schools of thought” both considered partially correct; to harbor partial or “relative” truths; and be taken forward together? Would we discover a “cure” for cancer?

    Food for thought.

  6. InfiniteWarrior says :

    All I can offer here to those feeling alarmed by the present state of affairs and the seeming madness of Late Modernity is to note that what is called “the early Renaissance” was likewise taking shape amidst the decadence and mass madness of the Late Middle Ages, to which our own times and mentalities bear close comparison.

    “The revolution will not be televised” because it’s a quiet revolution as it always has been.

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