Fired up by my recent discussions of non-duality with Henrik Nordmark, and my own increasing awareness of spiritual by-pass as a “thing”, I have inspiration for a blog about unity consciousness.
Here are three broad instances of what can irk me. Well, they don’t really anger me, they just instinctively strike me as being misconceptions. I used to assume that because I felt some irritation, it was just my own stuff at play. Nowadays I take a slightly different view. There’s of course nothing ‘wrong’ with something being ‘wrong’, but when human experience is denied, I go “grrrr”.
The three broad things that irk me are:
- The dislike (sometimes vehement) of labels, categories, and in the broader sense, description.
- The belief that everything is inherently either neutral or ‘good’, that there isn’t really such a thing as good&bad or right&wrong
- Disliking division, conflict, differences in opinion etc
These three facets seem to me to be misunderstandings, or misapplications, or something, of unity consciousness. I’ll explore it a little in this post.
Let’s dive in.
There is a great truth nestling in there, which is not to get fixated on the outward form of the experience, but instead to retain the sense of mystery and unknown and child-like curiosity and wonder. To allow our brains to become un-fixed, as it were.
And there is much of that kind of healing that needs to happen, the healing of reductionism.
But there’s another healing that needs to happen, which is of the aversion to knowledge and worldly information, where the fruits of human evolution are scorned, eschewed, or held in suspicion.
For one thing, when it’s taken too far, it puts us out of touch with the main reality we live in. It’s a cosmic paradox that although we are vast beings, and the physical represents just a slice of our being, our day-to-day experience is that we are mostly physical, and our non-corporeal self is the thin slice. That thin slice widens over time, of course, as we do more and more inner work. But there’s a danger of denying our consensual (and quite lovely) shared reality, when we take unity consciousness too seriously.
It goes without saying outside of New Age circles, but we need labels, and categories, and names. We need to know shit. Well we don’t really need to know, but if we’re to have anything approaching civilisation, or technology, or even a vague knowledge of which berries are poisonous and which aren’t, then we need to be able to name things and describe them.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I often find this philosophy in reference to sexual/gender identity. Some people really hate labels. For instance, someone might self-label as ‘queer’ or ‘label free’ rather than bisexual. Although not wanting a label in that context can be political (the belief that we should all be label free, so as to enjoy our sexualities more fluidly), there often also an anger, a resistance to what is. “Don’t tell me what I am!” it says.
I empathise in a small way- for a long time, I hated to be thought of as British. I called myself a ‘citizen of the world’. I still do! But I am British. There’s really no changing that. The fact that at times I am ashamed of Britain’s history, and I think that most of the world’s problems are related to nationalism, and thus would love to do away with national boundaries, doesn’t change the fact that I’m British.
What I suggest is to hold to the best of our ability both the label (which is the form) and the label-less (the formless) at the same time. Maybe the formless is a higher spiritual state; but regardless of how we hold that balance, let’s always keep our human reasoning faculties, and conscience, and heart. They are all god-given.
Here’s another point which is true in a very ‘inner’ level, but somehow misses the point when applied to human life too rigidly. It’s where Western moral relativism meets Eastern spiritual philosophy- very interesting territory.
Yes, there is a level of consciousness (and thus, reality) where right and wrong, good and bad (and all other moral distinctions or human judgements) don’t exist. Or maybe they do exist, but they don’t matter, because they’re all just aspects of divine oneness. So instead of a spectrum of ‘good and evil’, we have a spectrum of red to violet. Colours aren’t good or bad, they just are. And so, from this perspective, are all human experiences, thoughts and behaviours.
This is kind of a good philosophy to have, and is personally very useful in helping myself be at peace in my own life, but it’s also one we shouldn’t let interfere with our human hearts and instincts. There comes a point where we need to not be lulled into stupor by spiritual philosophy, but to call a spade a spade, and to start digging, if that’s what we feel we need to.
(it is, of course, an on-going challenge of perception and projection to know whether a spade is truly a spade. The fact that there might not exist a fully objective truth, or we might never know it, doesn’t mean we should give up on engaging with life.)
For example, there’s nothing wrong with looking after yourself and your needs. But there is such a thing as being selfish- for example, stockpiling food and money way beyond your needs, depriving other people. Selfishness isn’t necessarily morally bad or evil, but it is counter-productive to human society, and is detrimental to us as a whole, and causes suffering. If there is such a thing as evil, it’s surely something that brings suffereing.
I don’t believe that the reason why rape and murder and torture is wrong is because we’ve decided as a culture that it is so. It’s taken us thousands of years to know it, but I don’t think those truths are any more subjective than the laws of nature are.
(of course, the laws of nature may themselves be fluid, who knows? The point is, they don’t change with our beliefs and thoughts, and if we can affect the weather with collective will, then that’s part of the natural order as well!)
What I’m suggesting isn’t that we give up the spiritual viewpoint of all experiences being equal and neutral (or inherently ‘good’), just that we don’t abandon our humanity in the process. We can see the divine purpose and growth in suffering, whilst also doing something about it.
Here’s a great TED talk about how we can use science and critical thinking to talk about ‘good and evil’, and answer moral questions:
It’s given by Sam Harris, who is one of my heroes. For a spiritual healer, I seem to have many heroes who are prominent atheists. Such is life!
No division, please
The last category I don’t have too much to say about (I’ve spent my youthful vigour on the above two points).
Suffice to say, I do not consider false ‘getting along’ as better than open disagreement. Quite the opposite- I value honesty and integrity highly. Although I enjoy co-operation, agreement and so on, when they’re pretend, they don’t do anything for me.
We all seem to have different levels of tolerance to this. My tolerance is quite deep: I can find myself in deep, existential disagreement with someone and not loose sight of their, or my, innate humanity or inner divinity. I do get challenged, especially with issues of cruelty and selfishness (politics, the environment, human rights and civil liberties etc), but I don’t get thrown often. Some people have low tolerance for differentiation, and thus conflict; others don’t mind it so much.
My invitation around this, is to walk both lines, human and spiritual: to keep the spiritual, and also go deeply into the human, with all of its divisions and imperfections. It’s very possible to hold vast differences in opinion and experience, and still not feel separation. Separation is an illusion anyway, right? Walking both spiritual and physical is the theme of my life’s work. There isn’t a right or wrong in it, just an abundance of experiences and possibilities.
Perhaps me writing about it doesn’t help much (or, at all) but my own belief is that discussion and sharing is one of the main ways we can explore the human condition. If my own sharing is of use to you, that’s great. If it isn’t, that’s also great.
Either way, I’ve enjoyed writing it, which obviously is what matters most. 😉