Reality is created by the interplay of opposites. Masculine-feminine, life-death, up-down, forward-backward, health-sickness, positive-negative, and on and on. These pairs exist within everyone and everything. When we see these opposites as two separate contradictory forces we are in duality. Almost everyone lives within this mental paradigm of duality. We are attracted to one thing but repelled by another. This paradigm, this perspective is nothing more than a mental projection. It only exists within the mind but we perceive it to be real. It is the projection of a mind divided against itself. This is why people form clicks, the in group vs. the people outside the group. It is the reason people make distinctions between self and other. This is the reason for all wars, crime and all forms of bigotry. This projection of the mind is what creates the illusion of the ego as being something separate from and in opposition to the world around it when in reality the positive and negative forces in our life are two ends of the same spectrum. What we perceive as evil is a natural behavior that leans too far to one end of the spectrum. Every virtue can become a vice, everything that is beneficial and good can become an evil when taken to excess and we get out of balance and are divided within ourselves.
The reason we feel this division within ourselves is because we have contradictions within ourselves and these contradictions are based upon our false beliefs, biases and misunderstandings of reality. Fear is the main barrier that keeps us within these limited parameters. There is a principle that is the foundation of life itself and runs through all of existence and it is within each and every one of us within the deepest part of our being which is within our heart. When we have beliefs and actions that are contrary to this inner principle we feel divided and the division we feel within ourselves is what creates the illusion of duality. All we ever actually see is the reflection of our own mind. This inner principle is love, the one thing we all want at our deepest level. It is our own ignorance and egotism that causes us to live in contradiction to this principle which is our inner most self and creates these false dichotomies which keep us trapped within a false reality.
The way out of this paradigm is to harmonize the opposites within our self on each plane of our existence; physical, mental, and spiritual. We do this by finding the balance between the extremes in our life. For example, if we do not eat enough food we suffer from malnutrition. Likewise, on the other end of the spectrum if we overeat regularly we can become obese and again we suffer. The answer lies between the extremes of not eating and overeating which is a healthy balanced diet. We have to do this in all areas of our life. We harmonize the opposites on the physical plane of our existence by finding this balance not only in our dietary habits but also in every other area; working but not overworking, sleeping enough but not sleeping too much, being active but not overactive. We must also give up whatever compulsive behaviors we might have; our unhealthy habits.
We can harmonize the opposites on the mental plane by trying to see all people as being equal. We all have strengths and weaknesses, none is any better than the others. We might have strengths in one area of life while someone else has strengths in another area of life, and the same goes for our weaknesses. There are things we can learn from everyone and all groups of people. Within every group of people and every person there is both truth and falsehood, we have to learn to distinguish one from the other. Reading, studying scriptures, and contemplating can help us to realize this more and more. We have to be open to see what we can learn from the whole of existence, that includes all peoples, races, religions, and cultures. We have to be honest enough to accept what is true no matter where we find it and to discard that which is false. The test for this is if any belief is in alignment with truth it will express the inner principle of love which is always beneficial to all of life. If it is not beneficial to the whole of life and sets one individual or group of people apart as being better or more valuable than others it is false and therefore should be discarded. Not only should we apply this rule in our study of other beliefs and cultures but even more so should we apply this criteria to ourselves. Anything that is within our attitude, beliefs, or actions that is not an expression of love for others and sees all as being equal should be considered a false belief and discarded.
On the spiritual plane we can put different spiritual practices to work for us that is very beneficial in harmonizing ourselves by applying virtues to our life such as forgiveness, showing kindness, mercy, and tolerance towards others. Compassion goes a very long way in opening our eyes to the reality that we are all created equal. This is the end to which applying the teachings of Jesus Christ takes us. All of the teachings of Christ can be summed up in the golden rule; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We have all heard this before but do we actually practice it? We can put these into practice by contributing our resources to charity and by volunteering. Two examples of exemplary people in the twentieth century that epitomized this was Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi and Mother Teresa. They were the living embodiments of lovingkindness, tolerance and compassion. Another practice we can incorporate into our life that will carry us very far towards stepping out of duality is contemplative prayer. St. Paul tells us to keep our mind set on things above and not on things below, (Colossians 3:2). There are different techniques to doing this among which are contemplating scripture, another is to focus on an object of love, it could be your children, spouse, a parent, friends, or God. The goal is to actually feel the love you focus on. When we feel love in our heart we can gradually expand that feeling to incorporate all of life, the whole of existence.
These are not steps to be taken one at a time but practices that we can form into habitual patterns in all areas of our life simultaneously. It is the spiritual life and it encompasses the whole of our being. As we begin to incorporate these practices regularly we will begin to have a feeling of wholeness and a sense of wellbeing. We will begin to feel good about ourselves and the world around us. Little by little our perspective will begin to change and we will experience a paradigm shift, our mental parameters will begin to disappear and our mind will become clear of all obstructions and misconceptions. We will feel at peace with the whole of life and develop a sense of Oneness and Unity with all that is. We will have peace beyond peace and joy beyond joy. We will be in alignment with our innermost being and we will be One.
My Peace I give to you.