Nathaniel on duality

Monday, October 16, 2017

12:45 a.m. Dreamed I was dead. Went through initial states of being sure, including floating in air. Talked to [my sister] Margaret, was by myself in a basement trying to take a bath, remembered I needed to call Grandmom but it was 11 p.m. Got to the stage of realizing things were changing, losing touch with the world. Intended to do something, forget what – realized I probably wasn’t dead, tried to see. Very disappointing, still alive.

I ought to be able to use that as at least preliminary framework for [the latest version of] “Papa’s Trial.”

Sure was disappointing to see I was still alive, dreaming!

5:15 a.m. You said, descent into duality is only a relative thing. What did you mean by that?

Remember always, there are no hard and fast divisions in the universe. It isn’t like there is here with one set of rules and there with another. Relatively, yes. In a manner of speaking, yes. But not absolutely. Just as it isn’t 3D here, non-3D there, so it isn’t duality here, non-duality there – except relatively.

Well, we are willing to be instructed, but that isn’t immediately obvious.

If the theme is, it’s all one reality, here is another case of that. Duality isn’t a physical or mental ghetto, a low-rent district. It is a state of mind, in a way, a state of acceptance.

Of acceptance. You mean, only the result of seeing things a certain way?

That sounds like your own thought at the moment, I realize, but yes, the result of seeing things a certain way – of Perceiving Things As Good and Evil.

And does that imply that escaping duality is a matter of decision? We decide to see things as one, and there we are?

If it were that simple, wouldn’t you have done it as soon as you first heard the idea, or at least when you first began to believe it?

Easier to fall in than to climb out? Is that it?

In a sense. But you are ignoring the second half of our statement, that there is a good reason for it.

I hesitated between “is a good reason for it” and “was a good reason for it,” and finally chose “is,” but I don’t know why.

The “why” is because duality wasn’t a one-time error or even a one-time experiment. It is on-going, and the reason for it is on-going, and you know why.

No, I don’t. I know it is about prisms, but I don’t know why that is necessary or desirable.

Why don’t you explain, and as usual you will find insight flowing in as you put your mind in the current.

I get that partial views rather than one all-encompassing view is the difference between many colors and one all-encompassing white light. We’ve had that analogy before. Our very flaws and difficulties act as filters, so that the light of spirit shining through us does not come out clear white (though I gather it remains clear white), but in whatever color results when you shine lights through us. So I can imagine that if it is useful to have colors, we are – duality is – a way to produce them.

That is a description that makes it all seem pretty futile.

You don’t need to tell me!

There are other ways to see it. It could be looked at artistically, for instance: You are (duality is) being used to produce light shows, visual displays, ever-changing patterns. Or, scientifically: It analyzes reality by dissecting it, saying “white contains blue and green and deep red and very delicate violet, et cetera,” showing the innate complexity of existence. Or dramatically: Duality demonstrates tension and resolution, continually flowing. Or religiously or philosophically, so to speak: Inherent in the nature of things are these possibilities.

You will forgive me saying that still seems pretty futile. In a way, why bother?

That is world-weariness speaking. Ennui, one of the seven deadly sins. Sins, you will remember, are defined as errors, as “missing the mark.” They do not lead toward truth and understanding, but away from them.

Well, I’ve said we’re willing to be instructed. But what you have said so far today is not appealing, at least not to me. It makes me feel like a gladiator in a pit, fighting for the amusement of others.

Even if you are at the same time one of those “others”?

Even if.

Then let’s see if we can do something about that. I don’t suppose it does any good to remind you that anybody in duality is there of their own free will, volunteers.

I don’t know that it does. Even taking your word for it, that leaves us in the position of a Marine in boot camp, partway through the course, with a long stretch still ahead of him. He may have volunteered once, but that seems like a long time ago, and it doesn’t make his current reality any easier.

Not a bad analogy, and of course you remember it is one you have been given, and have used, more than once before.

I can’t imagine why the world beyond duality needs veterans of duality boot camp.

No, you can’t, and that is perilously near theory as opposed to something you can use. But, recognizing that it is a real obstacle, let us say just this. The product of a spell in duality is a being that:

  • Combines otherwise disparate elements
  • Understands unity in a new and more sophisticated way
  • Is, in a sense, denser, tougher, more concentrated.

In short, an ex-civilian who is now a Marine, and once a Marine always a Marine.

It is only an analogy, but not a bad one.

We use Marines for difficult combat. Are you implying combat goes on beyond duality?

That isn’t a question that can be answered yes or no without serious distortion. Let us say that life of any kind, in duality or not, always potentially involves contention, relative readjustments. But this does not imply warfare. Don’t carry the analogy too far. And let’s drop mere theory for the moment – anything that doesn’t affect your lives may be said to be mere theory in effect – and refocus on what you are living, hence what you can do.

Still avoiding Emerson’s siege of a hencoop.

It is a continuing temptation whenever one gets too theoretical; the hencoop is at least tangible. People instinctively recoil from the merely abstract. Either that, or they are tempted to lose themselves in it. Immerse themselves, perhaps we should say.

So where are we?

Where we began today, really. All we have accomplished so far is to remind you that duality exists among non-duality, and that the world doesn’t have a damaged section, a war zone, a ghetto.

And you have said that duality serves a purpose.

We’ve done more than that, implicitly. By reminding you that there is a purpose, we implicitly tell you that there is not only meaning but creation within it, and creation being a part of your nature, therefore there is joy. Remember Hemingway and the fireworks.

Hemingway and his wife Martha were in China in 1941, and she was revolted and distressed by the conditions of Chinese life. At one point he said that just because it affected her that way, didn’t mean it affected them that way, or they wouldn’t keep having babies and shooting off fireworks for enjoyment. I take it you are saying, don’t be distracted by the misery of the world, everything is fine.

Minus the sarcasm, more or less. Hemingway’s insight was deeper than her emotional reaction. Again, remember – and keep bringing yourself back to the fact – 3D existence is only relatively real. It isn’t the whole story. Remember too that you don’t, can’t, know anyone else’s inner reality. You don’t know their response to their own private experience of boot camp. You don’t know what it satisfies, what it develops and matures. Blind, shrill compassion is not compassion at all, but a rejection of the universe, the same old “I know better.”

And where does that leave reform? What good is it to see what’s wrong, and sometimes why it is wrong, if the end is to be “you don’t know better than the universe does”?

Notice what this short pause does.

I feel something within me settle, a little. Okay, the question still deserves an answer.

There is a difference between understanding and condemnation. In fact, they rarely run together.

Understanding slavery doesn’t make me any less inclined to condemn it.

Bear in mind, always: Understanding something involves neither condoning nor condemning. Either of those attitudes is to a degree a falling-off from understanding. To understand something is neither to become a partisan nor to become a condemner, a partisan on the other side.

Understanding liberates, condemnation isolates, Jung said.


We are out of time, but I don’t know that we have gotten very far.

You rarely do. [I took this to mean, we rarely know, not we rarely get very far.] Have faith, and persevere.

That’s the motto of the firm, I guess. Very well, see you next time.


3 thoughts on “Nathaniel on duality

  1. I can certainly relate to the frustration, Frank–if indeed that was what you were feeling during the session. Of course, from where I’m at it also seems obvious to exhort you to, “have faith and persevere!” And yet when I hear or feel that sentiment my reaction is often, well, let’s just call it….un-receptive.

    Since when is ennui one of the 7 deadlies? I can see it being an admixture of some them–a little pride, wrath, and sloth maybe–but it’s not an official one is it?

    I came across on old Zen story the other day and the truth of it pierced me right through, just the way those stories should. Seems appropriate to pass it along.

    A student came to the Master and said, “I am so very discouraged, Master. I don’t know what to do.”

    The Master replied, “Encourage others.”

    1. Ennui and sloth are variants of the same attitude. We tend to think of sloth as laziness, and ennui as boredom, but what they have in common is a giving up on the world, so to speak. That’s one of the seven sins.
      I have heard that story before, and I like it a lot.
      But I wasn’t feeling frustrated. In sessions, I don’t know that I have ever felt any of the emotions that people have read into my responses. Something will be said, a response will well up and I will express it, and then the next thing will happen. I’m closer to being an empty vessel, a receptive presence, than anything else.

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