We begin life inevitably conditioned by duality. It’s the simplest aspect of our consciousness; determining differences – right/wrong, good/bad, happy/sad. In the process we learn to bury or deny a whole bunch of ‘stuff’.

A whole, contains darkness and light, good and bad, happy and sad. A choice to move towards wholeness inevitably involves encounters with this buried ‘stuff’.

The mainstream

Dominant cultural ideals create a mainstream (which will be different depending on our subjective experience and geographic location in the world). There is a massive pull towards conforming to this broad stream, the dominant view that informs our conditioning and that we measure ourselves against. We all long to fulfill our physiological and psychological need for belonging and acceptance.

It’s great when you’re floating down this stream, happily carried along, playing by the rules, winning the game. Or maybe aspiring for a more comfortable place within it. The struggle can be fun too. Either way, defining ourselves by the parameters of the dominant culture. If we choose wholeness, however, there are inevitable challenges. If we happen to glance over at the margins and notice the suffering at the outer edges, it isn’t so easy to just float along.

Out of the stream, into the Whole

Once we’re committed to that aspect of ourselves that is a part of everything, it isn’t so easy to just enjoy the ride. The mainstream denies the darkness, the shadows and restricts the view to a narrow path where some people are in, and some people are out.

It’s a painful moment to abandon the dominant view. It comes with risk and discomfort. And yet, once the truth of our oneness or wholeness starts to break through, there is no other choice.

Suffering is how we evolve. None of us want to, of course. But, welcoming the discomfort is how consciousness expands.

I look back on my life when I was happily playing in the mainstream, and honestly, I miss it. Life was easier, I’m reluctant to say that I had more joy. I’ve reflected on this a lot lately. As I’ve abandoned the discriminative actions that elevated me as ok, or special, at the expense of dismissing another as not ok, or less than, I’ve encountered a lot of pain and confusion.

The price

Expletive! When I start to see my connection to other people’s suffering and can no longer dismiss them as broken or wrong, it gets REALLY uncomfortable.

However, it’s not all bad news, when I look back comparing my progress, I notice that I am less nervous, reactive and afraid. The solid ground that a recognition of oneness with all of life, is also, that no matter what, I am ok. I no longer have to spend my energy defending,  protecting and hiding.

I can be real, authentic, with all my failings and foibles, I can be who I am, in wholeness. My dark side, hitherto denied, is uncomfortable. But, I trust that integrating it is taking me to the wholeness of who I am.

Letting go of morality and meritocracy leaves me in a weird and uncertain position. I’m not firmly fixed on either side of a duality, in any situation. I abide in that liminal space that acknowledges something greater than either side.

Expletive (again)! It is hard! Every now and then I get a glimmer of the peace and joy of abiding here. Mostly, it’s confusing and challenging.

But, here I am, on this journey. The adventures of a spiritual seeker! Even that has to be abandoned. An unfixed, unanchored, floating identity. Perhaps non-identity is more accurate. And, here I am, separate body, subjective experience; existing, loving, longing, losing.

Is it a bargain?

There is a price! I’m paying it. But it isn’t in money, it isn’t material. Fortunately, all of that seems to take care of itself. I can’t say yet that it’s a bargain. I hope so. As the timeless element grows, perhaps the sense of loss will feel less significant.

I’m evolving. My own subjective perspective and lived experience are all that I have to offer as a contribution to this incredible unfolding that’s currently happening in our species. It’s all any of us really have.

It’s a hard sell, this coming to know yourself beyond duality gig. I write this to offer others taking this journey some commune. My only real comfort is the comfort of the pathways that others have already forged, that offer some bread crumbs, some direction.

A ‘new normal’?

When conflict is no longer satisfying, when valuing one form of life over another no longer cuts it, there has to be another way.

Who am I to dare to step off the merry-go-around? I find myself in a constant effort to find balance. Continually self-correcting. Knowing that what the world (by that I mean the ‘system’) offers me isn’t offering me enough. That is the fuel.

The majority of our world operates in binaries, duality. To stand outside of that is inevitably marginalising, but paradoxically liberating. And, more and more of us are making this choice, and forging a ‘new normal’.