Thursday, March 15, 2018

Beyond Polarity and Duality

      We're very, very familiar with "the story of me" - our very personal perspective on ourselves & the world - "our reality". We're so familiar with this that we wrongly assume that it's accurate, true, & beneficial (even for us).
     The more we practice meditation or other means of deep introspection, the more we realize that "the story of me" (& resultant habitual reactive patterns) is a fear-based, primitive survival strategy based on our past but which now is a powerful impediment to our health, maturation, wholeness, & deep quality of life. See:

     "A significant shift occurs after we integrate the internal and external worlds: we move beyond polarity and duality and learn to see both worlds at once. We contain this paradox and are able to see the many options available to us. This more accepting and expansive way of thinking increases our tolerance for ambiguity, which is a function of wisdom. The ability to move beyond black or white, good or evil, helpful or harmful, signals wisdom’s presence.
     Although wisdom can be expressed at any age, it is less than becoming if we are not able to develop it in our later years and provide a consistent model for younger people. Our work in the second half of life demands that we neither be entrenched in the polarities of our daily experiences nor be rigid, harsh, or unforgiving in our approach. We are stretched to shift our perspective and our actions from the dualism of either/or to holding the paradox of both/and. This allows something greater and more creative to emerge. It is an essential perspective for problem solving. Wisdom always looks for the most elegant solution, the one that will create a genuine win-win and serve the greater good of the majority of people.
     Two extraordinary examples of what can happen when we hold the paradox of both/and to allow something greater to emerge are the restorative justice process of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in resolving apartheid issues and the unprecedented creativity and collaboration that created the European Union. Because the people involved avoided remaining in fixed, entrenched positions, they generated outcomes that far exceeded initial expectations or imagined results.
     If we can embrace the meanings and experiences in both our internal and external worlds, melding the sacred and profane, we will be rigorously challenged to transform opposition to paradox. The essential task is to allow all sides of an issue, or pairs of opposites, to exist in equal dignity and worth until their hidden unity is revealed. This is our initiation into the embodiment of wisdom, the entry point into authentic spiritual maturation and personal transformation.
     When we shift our perspective to look beyond dualities, opposites, and polarities, we can simultaneously consider many diverse options and possibilities without applying solutions that may seem quick, easy, and expedient but are in fact premature. In our later years, it becomes imperative to increase our capacity to hold creative tension, allowing far grater and more inclusive solutions and options to emerge. By befriending and strengthening our capacity to hold paradox, we can explore the realm of deep spiritual growth. As we actualize all aspects of ourselves and weave them into an inherent symmetry and whole, we become more skillful problem solvers, mediators, stewards of justice, and models of patience and mercy. We become an unshakably wise presence that harnesses the good, true, and beautiful for the grater good of all concerned. This is wisdom’s way and our primary task in the second half of life.”

       Angeles Arrien. “The Second Half of Life. Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom.” Sounds True, 2007.

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