(Posted on: April 22, 2013 by David McMillin)
(NOTE: While serving as mentor for an online version of "A Search For God" study group and working on the Oneness lesson, a class member requested help with the "Trandscending Dualism" exercise. I posted the following reply as an example of how to do the exercise and thought it might be helpful to others working with this material. – David McMillin)
Thanks for asking for help with this exercise. If it is confusing to you, I am sure there are others in the group who are also struggling with it. I know you only asked for a word or sentence to get you started, but I would like to use this opportunity to do the exercise. But before I provide my current list of dualistic experiences, here is some personal background for context.
My childhood and adolescent years were grounded in various dualisms: God and the devil, good and evil, right and wrong, black and white … Religion was a powerful influence during that developmental period of my life and was based on a fundamentalist Christian model (Church of God), which is about as conservative as one can get. Both sides of my family were from the south (Tennessee) and brought much of that culture and values north after the great depression when they migrated looking for work and a new life in central Illinois.
To the best of my knowledge, I was the first person in my family to graduate from college – ever. I was the second to attend college – an uncle had attended for one semester before dropping out. I share this because I think level of education and social status may have some relationship with rigid, dualistic thinking – at least in my experience. That's not to say that more education equals more spirituality, necessarily. But I do think education, social class, and cultural traditions did contribute to an "us vs. them" dualism that was almost pervasive during my early years.
In religion, the "us vs. them" dualism applied pretty much across the board. Naturally, people of other religions (all other religions) were damned and going to hell. Ah yes, we don't want to forget that dualism – an eternity in heaven or hell. And the "us vs. them" duality wasn't limited to non-Christians. Other Christian denominations were suspect – even Baptists who believed that once saved, always saved – even they could backslide and end up hell, whether they believed it or not.
The "us vs. them" dualism was not limited to religion, it was there across the spectrum of social activity. There was a strong republican political bias that would make many members of the modern tea party blush. When John Kennedy (a catholic, democrat) was elected president, it was the end of the world as we knew it. Christ could return at any moment.
Of course, the "us vs. them" dualism extended to national groups – Americans vs. foreigners. Immigration was not the big issue during that period, but the after-effects of WWII were pretty strong. Thus Germans, Japanese, Russians (communists), etc were the bad guys. Virtually every other nationality besides the British were suspect and might be "them."
The black vs. white dualism was not just about ethics and morality – it was literally racism. Not KKK racism, but it was definitely there in how we looked at people of color.
Going away to college, adopting an agnostic (or perhaps even an atheistic) perspective, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, was a very healing experience for me in many respects. It was only after having a series of very dramatic psychic experiences some years later that I again became open to the possibility of a spiritual dimension of reality. And I have been on that spiritual quest ever since.
From an intellectual standpoint, one of the primary dualisms that I have struggled with is the mind-body dualism, both as an undergraduate and in graduate school. The holistic approach of the Cayce readings that formed the foundation of my health research with Meridian Institute expanded beyond that dualism with the triune model of physical, mental, spiritual – they are one.
I wanted to give this bit of personal history as examples of dualism in a practical sense. I am sure you can reflect on your own upbringing as well. Sadly, we can look around and see the same patterns in our society (and around the world) today. But there are also many wonderful examples of oneness and connectedness in the world around us.
Currently, I work hard to recognize dualistic patterns in my life that divide and disconnect me from others and nature. Hopefully, you may have noticed this in the lessons we have covered – I am always looking for the common ground and sense of unity and oneness in whatever topic we consider. We are all part of the One, even though at times we don't act like it. I guess we all still have some lessons to learn.
With this as a background, here are some of dualisms that I currently recognize in my life and how I think they may serve Oneness.
1. Self and Others – although we are all connected and part of the whole, we each have a separate sense of self that can help us be better companions and co-creators with our Source. The point is to know ourselves (as individuals) to be ourselves, and yet one with the Whole, one with God.
2. Day and Night – The brightness of the sun provides the opportunity for outward activity in the world. The darkness of night is a natural time for rest and inner activity through sleep and dreams. I savor the feeling of hitting the sheets at night exhausted as much as waking full of energy for another chance at earthly life in the morning. Of course, this has a metaphorical, symbolic meaning in the broader rhythms of life (which is the focus on a future lesson in SFG).
3. Sacred and Secular – Although I recognize that spirit is everywhere and in all things, I have also come to appreciate the duality represented in the sacred and secular aspects of modern life. For example, I am glad that the individuals who founded the USA created boundaries between church and state. Personally I prefer not to have the country run by religious clergy like the taliban or the Christian church of the Spanish Inquisition. Even the most vocal and devout secular atheists or agnostics express spirituality in loving relationships and religious awe at the laws of nature, etc. They are merely using the sacred space afforded by a loving Creator to learn and grow in this classroom of space/time, so as to become a fit companions and responsible co-creators with the Divine.
It's not as if I have entirely resolved all the dualisms and polarities in my life. I still struggle a bit with the political dualism that I grew up with and that is so prominent in our society during this election cycle. I tend toward the opposite end of the spectrum from my immediate ancestors and usually just try to ignore the whole business. Upon reflection, I do realize that expression of will is a primary soul attribute and just increases diversity, which the Creator seems to prefer. You can pray for my vote if you like. I wouldn't be offended.
Again, I apologize for the verbosity, especially since you only requested a word or sentence. I look forward to any thoughts you or others may have on this exercise. One of the things I like about the digital format of these lessons is that they can be changed easily. Best wishes, Dave
Day and Night – You may want to check out the video overview for the second lesson in ASFG Book II. The Day and Night lesson focuses more closely on a common dualism in the service of Oneness.