In the last two chapters, we discovered that opposites are not separate and independent realities, but rather different aspects of the same One. While it is relatively simple to understand the fact that in dealing with opposites, one cannot exist without the other, the reality of reconciling this fact in everyday life is another matter altogether. How can “good” and “evil” be reconciled when they seem to be contradictory and irreconcilable? Just because opposites are actually different aspects of the same One, does this mean we must therefore embrace all things we rail against such as racism, sexism, ignorance, prejudice, and other darker aspects of our human nature? No. We do not need to necessarily embrace these things, or pretend we are “okay” with them, but we must accept the fact they are inevitable aspects of human nature which can never be “gotten rid of,” since they are inseparable from life itself. As we discovered in the last chapter, the commonly proposed “solutions” to these conflicts between opposites involve “eliminating” the “bad,” while promoting the “good,” or “eliminating” the “good,” while promoting the “bad.” The practice of trying to eliminate one “side” or the other is always futile and gets us nowhere because the so-called “good” and “bad” always exist together since they are forever opposite aspects of the same One – two sides of the same one “coin,” and can therefore never be separated.
While Christian theology speaks endlessly about the eventual separation of the “wheat” from the “chaff,” the “sheep” from the “goats,” and a “final judgment” in which the damned and the saved will be forever separated, all of these notions are ultimately illusions because the so-called “good” and the “bad” can never be separated, since they are inseparable aspects of the same One. What is One, can only ever be One and inseparable. This is why the notions of Jesus being “without sin,” and God being “perfectly Holy” is impossible and a contradiction, as the “good” and the “bad” can never exist independently from each other, since they are opposite aspects of the same One, like two inseparable sides of the same one coin. This clearly demonstrates why all notions of “specialness” and “hierarchy” are ultimately illusions. Nobody and nothing is “more special” or “better” than anyone or anything else. All is One and inseparable. Interestingly enough, even scripture contradicts this idea of an “only good” God, as found in Isaiah 45:7.
“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD do all these things.”
This passage essentially describes God as responsible for both the “good” and the “bad.” While it is true the “good” and the “bad” can never be separated, this description of God is a blatant contradiction to Christian doctrine’s version of God as found in 1 John 1:5.
…”God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
As we discovered before, contradictions and double-standards are always false, like “round squares,” which automatically makes this theology untrue. So what is one to do? What can we do when faced with ignorance, prejudice, evil, hatred, injustice, etc.? We have to first take responsibility for ourselves because without that fundamental step, all other means of achieving any lasting peace will be futile. Even Jesus refers to this from his words in Matthew 7:5.
“First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We need to strip ourselves of all the layers which are covering our awareness of truth – all of our beliefs, prejudices, ideals, preconceptions, etc. This is far more easily said than done, and is not the way most of the world functions, opting instead to cling to an ideology, and attempting to see life through the smokescreen of this ideology, or as some put it, seeing the world through “rose-colored glasses,” or “dark-colored glasses.” We then tend to try to convince and/or coerce others to see the world the way we see it through our subtle and/or not-so-subtle means of reward and punishment, which is the maker of all war. Either way, seeing with any colored glasses, “dark” or “rose-colored” is not seeing reality for what it actually is, but what we think it is. This is not the way to truth.
This entire game of clinging to ideologies and convincing or coercing others to conform to our standards and ideals has always failed and will continue to always fail to bring true peace and enlightenment. It can only bring more conflict and war because this method is based on an abstraction – a presupposition based not on what actually is, but on what we want things to be. A mistaken presupposition and an abstraction, no matter how cleverly contrived and maintained can never become truth. Many people do not see the violence of holding ideals, deeming them “necessary” in helping us become “better people,” but as we can see, since opposite aspects of reality cannot be separated, any “ideal” we hold is violent by nature because it is an expression of the futile attempt of trying to “eliminate” the “bad,” while promoting the “good,” which is self-destructive and self-contradictory since nothing can ever be separated from the whole. All is always One.
As we discovered earlier, this does not mean we must therefore necessarily embrace or choose that which is destructive and harmful to ourselves or others. It just means these aspects of our nature are never “gone,” but are always a part of us because opposites are inseparable aspects of the same One. There is a brilliant visual metaphor of this fact at the end of the “Star Wars” film “Return of the Jedi,” in which Luke Skywalker’s flap on his uniform is gray – not black, not white, but gray – illustrating the fact the darkness as well as the light are forever a part of him. There is no eliminating anything because it is impossible to do so. There are only choices to be made within all possibilities. Contrast this reality with the Judeo-Christian practice of assigning blame to “Satan,” to “evil forces,” to “sin” or some other abstraction for why we have suffering and hardship in the world. It is sad Christian apologists have to resort to playing a blame game to rationalize their views of reality instead of accepting the truth all is One – the “good” as well as the “bad.” The lack of acceptance of this reality is a hallmark of Christian theology, making it dedicated not to the truth, but to the falsehood of its absurd and self-contradictory ideologies. This is evident in their beliefs in the separation between God and Satan, Heaven and Hell, the “saved” and the “damned.” Since all notions of separation are ultimately not true, then all of these Christian beliefs which rely on the notion of separation are also not true.
The bottom line is, if we want to be about truth and about living the most honest and loving lives possible, we must begin from reality, not fantasies, ideals, or abstractions, as life is not an abstraction or an ideal which exists in a vacuum. Unfortunately, this first critical step is almost never achieved by most people. The reason why is because most of us do not want to face the truth of ourselves, and the fact All is not about me, but about ALL, since it is only ALL which endures, not the ever-changing forms within it, whether those forms are our ideals, beliefs, religions, dogmas, gods, or egos.
We cannot live more peacefully and more lovingly while being dishonest by looking at life through ideologies and abstractions, but we can do this by looking at life honestly, and drawing boundaries with ourselves and with others as needed to take responsibility for ourselves and by holding others accountable for themselves. That is all we can do. We cannot change others, and we cannot make the world conform to our “ideals,” but we can make choices to create and maintain healthy boundaries as needed to hold ourselves and others accountable in order to have the most loving and authentic life possible. While our egos are impermanent, our lives as apparent “separate” egos are still real, just as a dream is real, even if not reality, just as a dream is not reality. Therefore, while the ego and it’s creation of the appearance of “separateness” is ultimately an illusion, the need for boundaries within our lives as egos are most necessary to live healthy and loving lives.
Maintaining healthy boundaries is far more easily said than done, as it is a choice we have to make moment to moment, day after day. It is a tough grind, and an immensely difficult endeavor, as it requires us to be alive at all moments, to never be lazy or let our guard down, to be able to respond to every situation as the moment requires – to live in the present moment. This is not at all the same as responding to situations from the basis of “moral standards” and “ideals,” which are hypocritical. Living in the present moment involves total honesty in responding now to a given situation, which is to act from love, not fear. Acting from moral standards and ideals is to act from fear, as these things are of time, manufactured by our ego to defend itself and its gods, beliefs, ideals, prejudices, and all of its other illusory constructions. There is no time in the present moment, which is why action in the present moment is loving action. If we live in that moment, holding ourselves and others accountable, we are living with love. If we are not doing so, we are running away in fear. It’s that simple, and that difficult.
How many of us are really willing to do this? How many of us are honestly willing to look beyond our egos and their corresponding prejudices, religions, and cherished ideals and beliefs to see reality for what it actually is? If we are honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit we are not willing to do this. We are not willing to “die” to our ideals and beliefs so we can live real life. We are too busy hanging on to ourselves to ever have a chance at seeing truth, seeing Reality for what it is, and acting accordingly within that truth. This is why we are constantly at war and conflict without end. Instead of taking ownership and honestly looking at ourselves without the smokescreens of our ideologies and beliefs, we instead claim to be about “peace,” without ever comprehending why clinging to our ideals and beliefs only perpetuates our violent, ignorant natures. The very creation of ideals is a fight against reality. That fight is violence itself. While some would argue we must fight “evil” and such, it is only in facing reality, not fighting it – the good as well as the bad where we can actually find any measure of true peace. Since we cannot “get rid of” anything, fighting reality is futile and a waste of time, as we can live far more peacefully if we do not fight reality by denying it while hiding away in ideologies, as Christian theology does, and instead dealing with it in an honest, truthful, and responsible way.
Clinging to an ideal is a defense mechanism from facing reality, no matter how we try to rationalize it. While our intentions may be good, escaping from reality in an ideal solves nothing whatsoever, and when we pass this on to our children in the form of fairytales and idealistic agendas, we are not doing them any favors. This does not mean we have to be cynical, but honest and truthful about what life actually is – the good as well as the bad. To not be truthful about reality – about how the world actually is, not how we want it to be, is to deny ourselves the very ability to live an authentic, real life. Contrary to the opinion of some, reality is not necessarily “negative” or less wonderful than our idealistic fantasies. Nor is reality necessarily always “positive,” reflecting the fairytales of our childhood. Life is not a fairytale, nor is it necessarily a nightmare. The truth, as always, is on neither the right side nor the left, but in the middle ground of Oneness and Wholeness. If anything, real life’s true beauty is less shallow and far more interesting, amazing, and wonderful than anything our ideological agendas could ever possibly dream up. True freedom is not about having the world as we want it to be, but about letting go of our ideals and beliefs so we can finally see and appreciate life for what it actually is, and in that, having the ability to finally reconcile… the seemingly irreconcilable.