In the last chapter on “Contradictions and Double Standards,” we learned that opposites are not separate realities, but different aspects of the same One. We learned this must be the case because under the belief in “separate,” opposite, “independent” realities, as found in Judeo-Christian doctrine, one “reality” contradicts, or cancels out the other, making nothingness the only reality, which is obviously false. When I first realized this several years ago, it was extremely disturbing to me. How, I reasoned, could “good” and “evil” be the same? How could pleasure and pain be the same? While we might be able to understand these opposites are the same one intellectually, since logically speaking, you cannot have one without the other, we generally don’t live “in our heads,” but in our experiences. If our subjective experience of pleasure is “good,” and our subjective experience of pain is “bad,” then our experience will naturally dictate to us these things are not the same things, but fundamentally different things. After all, most of us would rather get a back massage than get stabbed in the back with a knife.
While we cannot deny our subjective experiences of pleasure and pain are subjectively different to us, the fact still remains they are simply two aspects of the same one. We cannot have a sense of what is “pleasant,” if we do not also have a sense of what is “unpleasant.” Both notions of “good” and “bad,” of “pleasure” and “pain” are measured against the self, the ego. Without the self, these notions cannot exist, because without the self there is nothing to measure and judge these subjective experiences against. The self, the ego is nothing more than an idea ultimately resulting from a form of energy’s awareness of the limits of its form, and the limits of other forms. It is this very phenomenon which allows for all notions of relativity and separateness, which are all ultimately illusions since the only truth is One, as we learned in the previous chapter. I am not suggesting our egotistical experiences and our subjective feelings of separateness and individuality, of pleasure and pain is not real. Of course they are. But the overwhelming nature of these dualistic experiences tends to mask our awareness of the Oneness of All which underlies the apparent duality of our experiences.
Our natural desire to avoid pain and pursue pleasure is almost entirely the source of all conflict within us. While it is natural for our egos to do this, the fact is you cannot have one without the other because they are opposite aspects of the same One. This is an unavoidable fact. We can make the choice to pursue pleasure if we so desire, but to do so without understanding the fact that pain will always accompany pleasure is foolish. One will always accompany the other since they are two sides of the same one coin. Still, most of us never accept this fact. The invention of the concepts of “Heaven” and “Hell” are the ultimate manifestation of our lack of acceptance of this reality. All of our concepts of “Heaven” consist only of that which brings pleasure and none of that which brings pain. This is perfectly summed up in Revelation 21:4.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
This idea of “salvation” in Christian doctrine is nothing more than the shallow and impossible notion of the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. It is the notion of a place where only the “good” and pleasurable exists, and none of the “bad” and painful. It is the fantasy of all fantasies, a childish example of wish fulfillment, as Sigmund Freud expressed, and is impossible because it depends on dualities being separate and independent realities, which as we learned earlier, is a contradiction. As we learned in the last chapter, all contradictions and double-standards are false, like “round-squares.”
Our concepts of “Hell” are exactly the opposite of “Heaven,” and consist only of that which brings pain and none of that which brings pleasure. This is perfectly summed up in Revelation 21:8.
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
“Hell” is the opposite side of this dualistic fantasy, where all of the “bad” and “evil” people go, whatever “bad” and “evil” means, depending on who you are talking to and which definition of these terms are being applied. All of this is such nonsense when thought through rationally, it is truly a wonder so many billions of people buy in to these ideas. At the same time, it may not be too surprising when we consider what a stunning testament these notions are to how incredibly strong and primal our ego needs are to live forever, to have lasting “peace,” “security,” and “justice.” Since we cannot find these things on Earth, we invent the idea they exist “somewhere else,” or “in another dimension.” When you have supposedly “credible” magazines like “Time” publishing stories of “miracles” and the “afterlife” as if these things are factual realities, it is clear how deeply ingrained the desire to believe in these things live in our psyches. They are stronger than reason, logic, or evidence, which is why they require none of the above for their perpetuation. While it is understandable to want to believe in “miracles” and the “afterlife,” they are not true just because we want to believe they are true, just as the Earth is not flat just because one might want to believe it is flat. What we believe never changes reality, only our perception of reality.
Since we have now discovered that virtually the entire movement of our egos revolves around the superficial pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, which manifests itself even in our so-called “spiritual lives” with our notions of “Heaven” and “Hell,” what is it we truly are longing for, since we are obviously searching for something truly real and lasting? Is it not simply being at peace within, despite our circumstances, despite all of the up and down movements of the dualistic roller-coaster? As long as our “freedom” is dependent on any condition whatsoever, whether it is having “enough” money, or having the “right” job, or “enough” security, we are never free, because we are always slaves to our conditions. True peace and joy within is unconditional because it is only when we are free of the need to “live forever,” for our circumstances to be “just right,” for some condition to meet our ego needs where true freedom is. Freedom is by definition unconditional. “Conditional freedom” – that is, “freedom” that depends on certain conditions being met is a contradiction of terms and is never true freedom which brings real peace. This is the dualistic “wheel” the traditionally religious never transcend. They cannot transcend it because their idea of “peace” and “salvation” is one in which certain conditions must be met –accepting Jesus Christ as our “Lord and Savior,” to enable us to be in “Heaven” where there is “no pain,” being “happy,” having our family and friends “love” us the way we want them to, etc. Of course we all have our preferences of how we subjectively want things to be in our lives. That is a natural part of being a self, an ego. But to think we can ever know true freedom while living in identification with our ego and its inevitable ups and downs is a fantasy and nothing more. True Freedom is in living with the ups and downs of life as an ego, while seeing the unity and Oneness behind it all, and from that perspective, truly “transcending” the dualistic world because we are no longer a slave to conditions, since our true peace is unconditional. We can then experience life and our emotions without being so attached to them. We can realize then while on one level we live as an ego, we truly are not our ego, but All… the Oneness of All. The pristine awareness of the Oneness of All is the true peace we know within. This awareness is now – not of time, condition, or circumstance.
This single awareness can then help us answer the question of how we “solve” the many problems of evil and misery in the world. Under the dualistic mindset, the “solution” is always to have us “get rid of” the “bad,” while promoting the “good,” or to “get rid of” the “good,” while promoting the “bad.” Since you cannot ever get rid of anything, since all is One, then this entire dualistic approach is futile and absurd. The only way one could “get rid of evil” is to “get rid of good” as well since the two are inseparable. This is why the entire Christian notion of “salvation” being the end of all which is “unholy” and “evil,” and the presence of only that which is “holy” and “good” is absurd. It is absurd because it is founded on the illusion of dualities existing as separate and independent realities, when they are One Reality, as we discovered earlier. Because they are One Reality, they cannot ever be separated or “gotten rid of.” They can only be reconciled when seen for what they are – One. If we knew – actually knew within the deepest recesses of our being we are One – one with each other, one with our contrasting emotions and experiences, one with the Earth, one with the animals, one with plants, soil, oxygen, the cosmos itself; and sought with all of our strength and mind to live with compassion and understanding, transcending our ignorance, living in awareness of Oneness instead of the egotism of illusory separateness, we then would never have to ask how we can best treat one another for the benefit of everyone. We would not need a laundry list of “rights” and “wrongs,” or self-contradictory, hypocritical notions of “morality.” We would not need the “Ten Commandments,” or threats of damnation or promises of Heavenly rewards to coerce us into a desired standard of behavior. All we need is awareness of the Oneness of All. Indeed, it takes only One to solve everything, meaning awareness of Oneness is the only which is ultimately required to solve the many problems and challenges we face, as well as the many questions we have, since everything is truly the same Oneness of All.