And They Shall Be One Flesh: 12 Signs That We are Dualists
"... modern man has heard enough about guilt and sin. He is solely beset by his own bad conscience. And wants rather to know, how he is to reconcile himself with his own nature. How he is to love the enemy in his own heart and call the wolf his brother?"
- Carl Jung, Ending Your Inner Civil War
The greatest love story ever told - perhaps the only One ever told - is that between the archetypal Spirit and Soul. These two partners have been estranged from each other ever since the Fall of humankind - the dawn of its self-awareness - desperately longing to rekindle the flames of their primordial romance. More technical names for their manifestations are Subject and Object, Mind and Matter, Idea and Reality, Cognition and Perception, and many other similar terms. It is so powerful a Love story that we can make sense of humanity's entire historical and cultural evolution through its aesthetic narrative. This story has taken a tense dramatic turn in every epoch we can account for. In our own epoch, we have arrived at a critical juncture - just as the civil institution of marriage is at its most frail, so is the spiritual reality underlying it. Every individual is now faced with the unique prospect of losing his or her inner partner and thereby being torn asunder. The Good News, however, is that we ourselves, as the individual mediators between Spirit and Soul, are now given the freedom to decide our romantic fate. That is the reason why Carl Jung termed the reconciliation of the opposites in his analaytic psychology as the process of "individuation". Consider the etymology:
individual (adj.) early 15c., "one and indivisible, inseparable" (with reference to the Trinity), from Medieval Latin individualis, from Latin individuus "indivisible," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + dividuus "divisible," from dividere "divide"
The reason I put "we" in the title is to highlight the pervasive influence of dualistic thinking in the modern age, not only in the thought of those who intellectually disagree with us, but in our own daily thinking. If we have ever managed to extricate ourselves from this sort of thinking, then we can observe when our thinking will snap back to a dualistic mode during some parts of our day and, hopefully, ease up during other parts of the day. Generally, when we are absorbed in our work, especially if it requires a fair amount of intellectual thinking, it will seem as though we cannot help but think dualistically. That is because the very function of the intellect is to keep the 'subject' separated from the 'object' (and objects from other objects) so the latter can be analyzed more systematically and precisely. There have been times during the day when I completely forget how I had reasoned my way to certain holistic conclusions in the recent past. That happens because the mental habit of dualistic thinking has reasserted itself and my cognition is once again trapped within it's self-enclosed circular maze. Why is this dualism such an imprisoning force in our experience and what can we do about it?
The only reason I find myself capable of noticing these lapses in my thinking is because I constantly Think about my own thinking. The capital "T" is to emphasize that we are not speaking of dry, abstract, and mechanical thinking about the concept of "thinking", but thoughtful observation of the living and evolving activity of our thinking throughout the 'epochs' of our day. Our thinking, like any living organism, is born, grows, and matures in broadly predictable ways over its lifetime and over each day its life. It's development is not linear, but progresses and retreats in fits and starts. In the worlds of Coleridge, "the little animal wins its way up against the stream, by alternate pulses of active and passive motion, now resisting the current, and now yielding to it in order to gather strength and a momentary fulcrum for a further propulsion." Thinking deeply is the manner in which we can begin taming our passions, feelings, and intellectual thinking, bringing them under some semblance of conscious control. Then these inner aspects of ourselves no longer flail about chaotically like a wild stallion. The oscillating extremes of inner experience become less severe and return to a stable Center more quickly and smoothly.
The following is a list of 12 clear signs that we are still thinking dualistically and therefore failing to move towards a cease-fire treaty in our inner civil war. Each sign is accompanied by an illustrative quote, which can aid us in understanding the deeper significance of these signs. The quotes are aids to the ceaseless evolution of our Thinking organism and should by no means be confused for a final destination. They come from about nine different philosophical thinkers, but I am intentionally choosing not to attribute the quotes (but will provide references to any specific requests), because that is a critical aspect of overcoming dualistic thinking. The primary way in which this dualism reasserts itself is through our own unexamined sympathies or antipathies for this or that philosopher, scientist, economic system, political party, spiritual tradition, etc. Our subconscious antipathies especially take possession of our intellect, and then we can hardly understand what has been written in any objective, dispassionate manner. Instead, we begin projecting everything we deeply dislike, without knowing it, into whatever sentences we are reading. Then, before we know it (quite literally), our desires, feelings, and thoughts are right back at war with each other. Our subconscious has once again been fortified and militarized.
Many more signs and sub-signs could be added to this list below. The unwritten sign in this entire constellation is the mere fact that our souls have been thrown into the 2oth-21st centuries with the echoes of modern Cartesian and Kantian subject-object (noumenon-phenomenon) dualism still resounding loudly through the corridors of philosophical, religious, aesthetic, and scientific thought; through the corridors of modern human culture in general and the cognitive evolution it reflects. We don't need to do anything for dualistic thinking to possess us - it already has us firmly in its grip. The only relevant question is how self-aware we are of that intellectual possession, which then allows us to take proactive steps towards mitigating its pervasive influence in our knowing inquiries. Dualistic thinking is an addiction of the modern intellect and there is no "beating" an addiction in the earliest stages of recovery. As with any addiction, the path to taking back possession of the intellect from dualistic desires, feelings, and thoughts is coming to know those inner experiences deeply. This is no ordinary knowing, but rather a knowledge which seeks to reconcile itself with its own inner nature; a Biblical knowing which seeks to "love thy enemy as thyself".
#1 - We speculate about the nature of reality from a 3rd-person "view from nowhere", imagining we can stand apart from the Cosmos and watch how events unfold from frame to frame without any influence of the knowing observer on the events being observed.
Time could be enormously and even infinitely accelerated; nothing would be changed for the mathematician, for the physicist or for the astronomer. And yet the difference with regard to consciousness would be profound... the wait from one day to another, from one hour to the next would no longer cause it the same fatigue. But this duration which science eliminates, and which is so difficult to conceive and express, is what one feels and lives. Suppose we try to find out what it is?—How would it appear to a consciousness which desired only to see it without measuring it, which would then grasp it without stopping it, which, in short, would take itself as object, and which, spectator and actor alike, at once spontaneous and reflective, would bring ever closer together—to the point where they would coincide, —the attention which is fixed, and time which passes?
NOTE: If we cannot really imagine an answer to the above question, then we are still vulnerable to, and most likely employing, the dualistic "view from nowhere" in our scientific inquiries.
# 2 - We believe the latest 'hard science' still justifies a separation between the relations of mind and matter, subject and object, knower and known.
A significant and decisive transformation, like the change affecting the oppositional concepts dealt with above, has begun with respect to the validity of the division of the world into subject and object. We have seen in the previous section that this dualism can no longer be maintained in physics; the same attitude is gradually gaining currency in biology as well. This change was inaugurated by the “environmental theory” of J. von Üxküll, a theory of the “interconnections” of the world and not of the oppositionalities of the world previously held to be valid. Today there is no longer a predominance of certain perspectivally fixed relationships to an opposite, but even in the natural sciences there is an insistence on the diaphanous and aperspectival manifestation of interrelationships and not merely on the relativistic establishment of relations. The supersession of the subject-object dichotomy is not the same as their loss. As we pointed out in Part One, it no longer threatens man with the loss of subjectivity or with identification with an object. On the contrary, there is now the decisive supersession of the personal Ego and the impersonal world (or the masses) by the “supra-personal” or, more accurately, by the “apersonal” Itself which is not blindly subjugated to the relationships, dependencies, conditionalities, and temporal strictures—and consequently to the under-determining structures and forms of realization—and is therefore capable of perceiving the interconnections. This leap from the mental into the integral, on the basis of which the supersession of dualism in biology is taking place, is an event of historical significance for mankind. It constitutes one of the manifestations of the aperspectival world.
NOTE: The above is the one and only quote which relates to abstract intellectual theory of dualism, which we should generally avoid, because we are dealing with an immanent division of inner experience that needs to be overcome. However, to illustrate the point about modern science, this approach was necessary. Also, the above was written in the 1960s, and this trend away from dualism in scientific results (as opposed to interpretations) has maintained and grown enormously since.
#3 - We feel that, when we observe concrete events occurring in the world around us, the meaningful element belongs to our "personal mind" rather than the content we are observing, and the event could just as well take place with that meaning entirely absent.
Let us return to our example of the thrown stone. We connect the sight perceptions that originate from the individual locations in which the stone finds itself. This connection gives us a curved line (the trajectory), and we obtain the laws of trajectory; when furthermore we take into account the material composition of the glass, and then understand the flying stone as cause, the shattering of the glass as effect, and so on, we then have permeated the given with concepts in such a way that it becomes comprehensible to us. This entire operation, which draws together the manifoldness of perception into a conceptual unity, occurs within our consciousness. The ideal interrelationship of the perceptual pictures is not given by the senses, but rather is grasped absolutely on its own by our spirit. For a being endowed only with the ability to perceive with the senses, this whole operation would simply not be there.
#4 - We assume that there are concepts and ideas in the world which have little or nothing to do with sense-perceptible 'reality'.
Another difficulty in the way of the unprejudiced observation of the relationship between the percept and the concept wrought by thinking, as here described, arises when, for example, in the field of experimental physics it becomes necessary to speak not of immediately perceptible elements, but of non-perceptible quantities as in the case of lines of electric or magnetic force. It may seem as if the elements of reality of which physicists speak had no connection either with what is perceptible or with the concepts which active thinking has wrought. Yet such a view would be based on self-deception. The main point is that all the results of physical research, apart from unjustifiable hypotheses which ought to be excluded, have been obtained through percept and concept. Elements which are seemingly non-perceptible are placed by the physicist's sound instinct for knowledge into the field where percepts lie, and they are thought of in terms of concepts commonly used in this field. The strengths of electric or magnetic fields and such like are arrived at, in the very nature of things, by no other process of knowledge than the one which occurs between percept and concept.
#5 - We feel that there are intentional purposes in the world which were put into motion in Nature independent of human purposes.
Religious statements are of this type. They refer without exception to things that cannot be established as physical facts. If they did not do this, they would inevitably fall into the category of the natural sciences. Taken as referring to anything physical, they make no sense whatever, and science would dismiss them as non-experienceable. They would be mere miracles, which are sufficiently exposed to doubt as it is, and yet they could not demonstrate the reality of the spirit or meaning that underlies them, because meaning is something that always demonstrates itself and is experienced on its own merits. The spirit and meaning of Christ are present and perceptible to us even without the aid of miracles. Miracles appeal only to the understanding of those who cannot perceive the meaning. They are mere substitutes for the not understood reality of the spirit. This is not to say that the living presence of the spirit is not occasionally accompanied by marvellous physical happenings. I only wish to emphasize that these happenings can neither replace nor bring about an understanding of the spirit, which is the one essential thing.
#6 - We observe natural phenomena such as mountains, rivers, clouds, fields, and similar processes, and feel there is no concrete overlap between what works in them and what lives through us (or it never occurs to us to even think about such a question).
Against all these theories we must urge the fact that we meet with the basic and primary opposition first in our own consciousness. It is we ourselves who break away from the bosom of Nature and contrast ourselves as “I” with the “World”. Goethe has given classic expression to this in his essay Nature, although his manner may at first sight be considered quite unscientific: “Living in the midst of her (Nature) we are strangers to her. Ceaselessly she speaks to us, yet betrays none of her secrets.” But Goethe knows the reverse side too: “Men are all in her and she in all.”
However true it may be that we have estranged ourselves from Nature, it is none the less true that we feel we are in her and belong to her. It can be only her own working which pulsates also in us.
We must find the way back to her again. A simple reflection can point this way out to us. We have, it is true, torn ourselves away from Nature, but we must none the less have taken something of her with us into our own being. This element of Nature in us we must seek out, and then we shall find the connection with her once more. Dualism fails to do this. It considers human inwardness as a spiritual entity utterly alien to Nature, and then attempts somehow to hitch it on to Nature. No wonder that it cannot find the connecting link. We can find Nature outside us only if we have first learned to know her within us. What is akin to her within us must be our guide.
#7 - We theorize that our self-aware consciousness has evolved from a 'dark' instinctive consciousness (like that of an instinctive 'animal') or from total 'unconsciousness' over linear time.
As far as we simply trace back the history of humanity from our Earthly perspective, we always reach a kind of dimming down of consciousness. In a similar way we reach such dimming when we trace our consciousness back towards the infant age. This leads to the natural conclusion that conscious man emerged from the unconscious sea of Will. And from our Earthly perspective it certainly seems so. Yet what we have attained as Thinking is not simply the rock that the Sisyphus-Will has pushed to the ego-top, only to realize the aimlessness of it. Thinking is the process through which we unite not only with the blind Will that has led us here but also with the Ideas that the Willing beings realize.
One of the hinderances is our rigid conception of Time. It seems like there's concrete moment in time when Mind at Large (God) decides to split and then concrete moment when it integrates. When we grasp Time in this manner we do something similar to the flat Earth fallacy - we extrapolate the metamorphosis of our state of being into imagined far past and far future. This results in the ideas like the Big Bang and Heat Death. Even though in certain sense it is justified to speak of these poles, neither of them is something that happened/will happen in a physical Cosmos, in linear time. The more we move towards these poles, the more time breaks down and in fact the poles are one thing - the eternal potential. Time is simply spread out, differentiated ideas, experienced relative to each other in gradual integration.
#8 - We theorize that the evolution of living forms occured over billions of years, with little 'things' eventually forming ever-more complex and self-aware living beings.
What I am concerned with is the form which the idea [of 'evolution'] took, or rather retained, in [Goethe's] mind. For that is very different from most of the forms it has taken since. About as different, I would say, as a motor-car driven under its own power by one of the skilled workers who designed it is from the same motor-car hitched to a pair of oxen and used in the good old way as a luxury farm-waggon. To understand Goethe’s view of nature one thing is needful and that is, to understand what he meant by Urphänomen. These archetypal ideas or phenomena, which realise themselves, he held, in the ever-changing forms of organic nature, are indeed the heart of the matter. They are the ‘inside’ of nature of which I spoke earlier; but – and this is all-important – they are as much inside man as they are inside nature. If therefore you call them, as Schiller did, ideas, you must remember that Goethe insists they are objective ideas. If you say, ‘Well then, they are not ideas but real entities’, then you must not forget that nevertheless they are subjective. Sinnlich – über sinnlich he said they were and he insisted that they were perceived rather than thought about, but perceived by the mind instead of by the senses. And this perception which depended on love and a devoted self-surrender as well as on accurate observation was a kind of communion. It is not an easy notion and many people have regarded it as nonsense. I do not think so myself, and that is why I was at such pains to try to set before you the pure idea of evolution – or, as we had now better call it – metamorphosis. Because, if we have managed to hold in our minds the pure idea, or mental image, of metamorphosis itself, as distinct from the theories that have been woven round it, we have, I believe, taken the first step towards perceiving one of Goethe’s Urphänomene. For metamorphosis, so apprehended, is really the Urphänomen, the archetypal phenomenon, of the whole of organic nature, of life itself. ... The place I claim for him is a very very high one for the following reasons. I believe that human consciousness, as we know it, has gradually evolved from a much older condition of what I can only call unity with nature into a more recent phase of detachment and sharp self-awareness. By nature, I mean in effect, the whole of what we perceive through our senses (including of course our own bodies)...
The older type of consciousness, wherein man felt an inner unity between himself and nature, and a kind of coming and going between them, remains mirrored for us in the mythologies; and in the Greek myths especially we find this sense of inner unity with nature associated with a ready faculty for grasping in images the startling business of changing from one form into another. It is no accident that the richest storehouse of these myths which has survived to us is a poem by Ovid called the ‘Metamorphoses’. ... Just as it was an event of immense importance when, in the eastern Mediterranean, before and after the birth of Christ, there occurred a certain fusion of the Greek and Hebrew worlds of thought, so I venture to see in Goethe the herald of a new and equally intimate fusion of modern thought with – no, not with Greek mythology, but with what lay beneath it. I mean a unitary consciousness older and more living than anything that still lingered in the Greek mind and the Greek language of New Testament days. For by that time Greece in her philosophy had herself long felt the impact of the dualism. And just as at that time the Jew, who was directed to look, and did look, for the law of God inside himself, instead of without as formerly, found there something very different from Ten Commandments inscribed on two Stone Tables; so I believe that Goethe’s message to us is this: that if, instead of looking at nature only outwardly, only through the senses, as formerly, we begin to look for her at the same time within ourselves, then we shall find something very different from a couple of laws of thermodynamics and a struggle for existence. And yet as in the one case, so in the other, what we shall find will not be a denial of the laws of nature as we know them, but their fulfilment.
#9 - We feel that humanity is simply a mere recent addition to Nature, who may very well go extinct in the near future when "Nature bats last".
We should look on Goethe’s poetry as one of the arsenals of the fortress of the human soul, now under attack from many different sides, and be thankful for any bit of ammunition or armoury we may find there. For the soul is the Cinderella of 20th century civilisation. She lives on sentiment: of which we are mortally afraid, preferring to rush out of it either to the physical extreme of violence or of appetite on the one side, or on the other to a rarefied and contentless spirituality; or perhaps to try both in turn, like Aldous Huxley. But the old man at Weimar grew wiser and wiser about all this. He knew well enough that the “nostalgia” of which our young politico-intellectuals spend most of their time accusing each other—and which he would have called Sehnsucht—so far from being a weakness, is the most precious sacramental wine of the soul, to be used by the spirit sparingly and with reverence for the purpose of making a man. It is Goethe’s distinction, and his message to us, that he retained throughout his life both this reverence for the soul, which allowed him to surrender to its varium et mutabile without feeling an ass, and a deep and abiding sense of man’s responsibility of self-consciousness. Only, instead of allowing the consciousness to destroy the soul, he strove to maintain it as a golden thread of self-awareness and self-control passing through all her vicissitudes and growing stronger with the lapse of time and the accumulation of experience. He was in this respect a pioneer, and it is rather our weakness than his if we allow to a few fatuities any substantial weight in the scales on which we weigh the value of “self-culture.” No doubt he specialised somewhat in one particular brand of sentiment. What is infinitely more important is that the mind, which contained as formidable a detached Onlooker as is portrayed in Mephistopheles, yet never lost its faculty for simple and reverent feeling, or its sense of the greatness of man. For it is this that we are to-day in such great danger of losing.
#10 - We assume that we must become 'unconscious', without any experience-thinking whatsoever, during our state of deep and dreamless sleep each night.
It is generally believed that deep, dreamless sleep contributes nothing at all in the way of knowledge, that dreamless sleep is quite worthless as far as knowledge is concerned. But this is not the case. Dreamless sleep has its definite task to perform for knowledge — knowledge that has an individual-personal bearing. If we did not sleep, if our life were not continually interrupted by periods of sleep, we would be incapable of reaching a clear concept of the ‘I,’ the Ego; we could have no clear realization of our identity. We should experience nothing except the world outside and lose ourselves entirely in it. Insufficient attention is paid to this, because people are not in the habit of thinking in a really unprejudiced way about what is experienced in the life of soul and in the bodily life. ... What we slept through is actually included in the retrospective survey, although we are not directly conscious of it because consciousness is focused entirely on the pictures left by waking life. But this consciousness is inwardly strengthened through the fact that in the field of retrospective vision there are also empty places; this constitutes the source of our consciousness in so far as it is inward consciousness. We would lose ourselves entirely in the external world if we were always awake, if this waking state were not continually interrupted by sleep. But whereas dream-filled sleep mirrors back to us in chaotic pictures certain fragments of our inner, organic conditions, dreamless sleep imparts to us the consciousness of our organization as man — again, therefore, knowledge.
#11 - We feel that our perspective and knowledge at any given time has completely exhausted the meaning of our past experiences and, therefore, whatever worldview we have adopted is based on the maximum available experiential data that we have.
In the analytical psychology of C. G. Jung we can discern a manifest attempt to overcome dualism in terms of his two basic theses: the “theory of individuation” and the “quaternity theory.” The theory of individuation strives toward achievement of a psychic wholeness of the “Self.” This “Self” has nothing in common with that of Indian metaphysics popularized in the works of Paul Brunton; it is only a “psychological factor” wherein consciousness and the subconscious can achieve a “psychic totality.” The Self is “a superordinate quantum above the conscious ego. It encompasses not only the conscious but the unconscious part of the psyche as well, and is, so to speak, a personality which we are too.” Jolande Jacobi, who together with Toni Wolff is the authorized interpreter of Jung’s analytic psychology, explains this statement as follows: “We know that unconscious processes have a compensatory and not a “contrasting” relationship to consciousness; unconscious and conscious are not necessarily opposites. They complete each other, constituting a Self.”
#12 - We feel that our current intellect, based on amassed evidence, has a firm grasp on the explanations for Cosmic and Earthly processes such as those related to "stars", "planets", "orbits", "living organisms", "geology", "evolution", and many other related ones.
At what point the intellect became obsessed with proof? When it became locked into its own abstract loops. When it climbed on the tree and cut the branch. When it drew a chalk circle around itself and postulated that it needs proof for stepping outside it. The Greeks used thoughts but it would have been nonsensical for them to prove the reality of the soul (psyche). They were not naive, it was just that the soul was still reality for them. They argued whether the soul has its seat in the brain or the heart but didn't argue if the soul exists. That latter arguing began much later when the "I" was driven in the completely abstract layer of thinking. Now the "I" began to question everything - even its own existence. The "I" reduced itself to intellectual activity. Everything else is uncertain. ... What is it in the given that gives us the confidence that the structure of reality should be derivable from combinations of abstract thoughts? This is the elephant in the room. The blind assumption on which the whole modern scientific endeavor rests. Man has become intoxicated with his own intellectual self-importance and now demands that the world should be derivable from abstract mineral concepts. It is as simple as that... The given doesn't tell us anything about proofs, let alone that reality is created on basis of intellectual ideas. What we find in the given is thinking which lives in the harmony of the facts. Thinking reveals the musical consonances and dissonances of meaning. Thinking perceives meaning. The assumption that thinking, as we find it today, is in position to recreate the Cosmos from its abstracted concepts is something completely artificial. ... Truth is not something that can be attained to by intellectual thinking. Any proof is just a new arrangement of concepts that in themselves say nothing about the reality of the wider context. The only way we can move towards something that is principally different, is by exploring the forces that lie at the foundations of thinking. Only in this way we can break the vicious loop within the phantom [intellectual] layer... The intellectual ego has become intoxicated. It wants to feel as the top-level authority. This is why things are being misunderstood continuously. The intellect wants to deal only with things that are smaller than itself. When it thinks about planets and galaxies, it imagines them as marbles, such that they can fit in the mind. It wants to understand the Divine in the same way. It imagines that it can fit the Divine in its abstract concepts. This is really the great rebellion of the intellectual ego. ... This doesn't mean that one must throw away the intellect. Not at all... Thinking is not restricted in the loops of the intellect. Thinking moves along the full spectrum. Thinking is humble. Thinking can address what is higher than itself and which cannot yet be grasped as a marble. To understand doesn't mean to dominate and enwrap marbles in the mind. Thinking can understand what is greater than itself, but it needs a [rigorous] scientific attitude virtually unknown in our current day. It is humble openness towards that within which we exist. It's not what we think about the higher worlds, but about growing into the experience of how they think us.
For those who made it through all 12 signs, ask yourself the question - do one or more of them apply to you? If you skipped over a few, please go back and read them now. After doing so, if your answer is "no", then I am afraid you have simply failed to understand the significance of the signs and would ask that you consider them again. This isn't a timed exam, so there is no rush, but we also can't remain with dualistic thinking indefinitely. I am confident that, even after writing this essay, one or two of them will reassert themselves in my own thinking in the near future. For those who admitted "yes" to the above question, I ask you then try a very simple (and quite silly) exercise. Take a moment, look at the wall or into a reflective surface, and say the following - "My name is [insert name here], and I am addicted to dualistic intellectual thinking". This is how we go about making an abstract concept into an immanent reality - genuine confession and repentance. It is how we set out on a path towards a death of dualistic thinking and rebirth into a higher mode of holistic cognition. Unlike our ancient ancestors, however, our modern human souls no longer need to seek these higher motives for our thoughts and actions from the priests at the confessional, but only from our inwardly reconciled Self; our shared Spirit, so that it and the Soul may once again be united in One Flesh.