Thursday, March 10, 2011

On making choices in a non-dual world

The message at yesterday's Ash Wednesday service seemed clear: Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust is not just a death sentence: it can serve as a gentle reminder that we are part of the earth, and the earth is part of us; that we are connected to all of creation, not only now, but also before we are born and after we are gone from life as we know it.

It's really one of those both/and concepts: yes, life is short and we will die, AND life is infinite, and some part of us will always be connected to all that is. Richard Rohr's words this morning in Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent touch on that curious tension.  He's talking about the importance of choices, but also about non-duality.  It doesn't seem like those two things can co-exist, does it?

For me, I think, these concepts are operating on different levels.  On the one level, I am making choices all the time, every day -- and I would like to hope that for the most part they are good choices; choices that contribute to my own growth and to that of the people whose lives I touch.

And on another level, I am trying to hold a vision of non-duality; to avoid polarizing around issues, and to refrain from demonizing those whose views seem opposite to my own.  I do my best (and this is a choice) to remember that we are, at heart, all one; all connected.

Thinking about this in meditation today (still thoroughly under the influence of my course on metaphor, for which I'm now writing my final paper) I found myself thinking about left-wing and right-wing.  As a fairly left-wing sort of person, both in religion and politics, I often find myself shaking my head at the theory and theology of my right-wing compatriots.

But I don't know of any birds that can fly with one wing.  So doesn't that mean we should accept that we need both wings, and that we are connected to the same bird?

It's a bit like this image, I suspect.  It looks like two roads are diverging in this wood.  But it's the same wood, the same grass and earth and trees and skies.  And I happen to know (because I created the picture) that the reality is that these two paths are exactly the same -- the right formed from the left as a mirror image, rather like the way Eve was created from Adam.

The one significant difference, that bench, was revealed when I erased a part of the path on the right: does that mean our differences only show up when some part of us has died, or is not realized?  That each of us has all the pieces, but only some are visible?

Hmm.  Something to ponder...


Kimberly Mason said...

ha! We are in sync again. How lovely.

Louise Gallagher said...

Love the idea of two wings connected to the same bird -- great imagery and analogy and concept!

thanks my friend.

Your brilliance is illuminating!

Jane said...

Thank you for this posting - got me a thinking.....
What a miserable world it would be if there were no opposing points of view. And what a rich world it is when there are multiple points of view that can be used as mirrors on which to reflect your view. Being respectful of others opinions, openly sharing, agreeing to disagree, changing a stance, realizing that you need the other for survival are all part of being one.