Dualistic Clarity Before Nondual Oneness
Friday, May 28, 2021
We must operate from a level of nondual consciousness to understand more fully the oneness or unity that the Gospel and the Christian scriptures offer us. The divine image and dignity are inherent in every being. We have the freedom and honor of choosing to grow (or not) in our unique likeness of this image. Jesus is one clear example of this path who models inclusive, nondual, compassionate thinking and being.
Why then does Jesus tell stories that show harsh judgment, casting the rejected into “outer darkness” and “eternal punishment,” especially in Matthew’s Gospel (see Matthew 25:46)? This seems to undo all the mercy and forgiveness Jesus demonstrates in the rest of his life and teaching. Let me explain how I see it.
We sometimes think that affirming oneness means refraining from taking a stand on issues of importance. Instead, clear-headed dualistic thinking must precede any further movement into nondual responses, especially about issues that people want to avoid. We cannot make a nonstop flight to nondual thinking or we just get fuzzy thinking. First, we must use our well-trained and good mind, and then find our response in a holistic (body, mind, soul, and heart) response. This is at the heart of mature spirituality, and one of the most common confusions. Many assert justice by naming the problem in stark relief and “prophetically” staying right there. Others speak too quickly of love, forgiveness, and communion before they have themselves hung for a while in the “tragic gap,” as Parker Palmer calls it.
Note that Jesus reserves his most damning and dualistic statements for matters of economic justice where power is most resistant: “You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24); “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24); or the clear dichotomy in Matthew 25 between sheep (who feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned) and goats (who don’t). The context is important. Jesus’ foundational and even dualistic bias is always against false power and in favor of the powerless. Unfortunately, Christians have managed to avoid most of what Jesus taught so unequivocally and with dualistic clarity: nonviolence, sharing of resources, simplicity, loving our enemies.
History shows that we will almost always compromise or completely avoid the Gospel issues of justice, power, money, and inclusion. Only a small number of Christians have learned the contemplative response to these same social evils, but the number is growing. More and more individuals are finally learning the artful balance of practicing clear-headed critique and open-door compassion—at the same time! These are people who recognize the human need for restitution, making amends, and full public accountability, and the divine capacity for forgiveness and patience. If either are sacrificed, we do not have the full Gospel. Yes, it is still a small minority who know how to do both, but they are the hope of the world.
Story from Our Community:
Yesterday I sat on our back porch and photographed the birds who flocked to seeds I had sown. Soon there was no more space on the memory card. Even though I couldn’t photograph them any longer, I didn’t want to leave the birds. I had this strange sense that I was being invited to just be with them. And so I did. Gradually, I began to sense a connection with the birds, even a sameness, a oneness somehow. The birds have been so patient, forgiving, and loving with me. Pure grace. —Jud M.