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Center for Action and Contemplation

Letting Go

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Non-Dual Thinking

Letting Go
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I often use the term “alternative orthodoxy,” a phrase I learned from my Franciscan tradition, having to do with emphasis upon lifestyle itself more than mere verbal correctness. Francis wanted us to do the Gospel, to live lives that were simple, loving, joyful, and non-violent. But I believe that the reason we lost this alternative orthodoxy is because we first lost our alternative, non-dual consciousness. We read everything inside of a quick and easy conformity with one “right” side of most questions, which kept us in the world of words—instead of our own experience—and it usually did not emphasize actual experience, which some call “orthopraxy.” The contemplative mind does not hide behind words (which are by nature dualistic), but is in immediate contact with reality, people, and events—as they are—and without an ideological overlay (having your conclusions before the fact).

Alternative consciousness is largely letting go of my mind’s need to solve problems, to fix people, to fix myself, to rearrange the moment because it is not to my liking. When that mind goes, another, non-dualistic mind is already there waiting. We realize it is actually our natural way of seeing. It’s the way we thought as children before we started judging and analyzing and distinguishing things one from another. As Helen Luke says, “The coming to consciousness is not a discovery of some new thing; it is a long and painful return to that which has always been.”

You cannot experience the non-dual mind without letting go of the dualistic mind—at least for a while. For most people who have thought dualistically for a long period of time, it feels like dying, it feels like losing, it feels like letting go of control, which is exactly why Catholic mystics consistently called it “darkness” or “knowing by darkness.” This is surely why many people do not move to more mature stages of prayer. They’d rather stay in the mind, which is largely commenting and arguing between conflicting or competing ideas. Note that I said you must let go of your dualistic mind at least for a while. You eventually have to return there to get most ordinary jobs accomplished, but even those you will now do in a less compulsive or driven way.

Contemplation leads you to have simple clear eyes, common-sense faith, a combination of humility and quiet confidence, and a loving energy that makes whatever you say quite compelling. It also allows you to deal with complex issues with this same simplicity and forthrightness, as we are now seeing in Pope Francis, for example.

Gateway to Silence:
God is all in all.

Adapted from Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation, pp. 65-67,
and The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of Trinity, disc 2 (CD, MP3 download)

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