Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Not One, Not Two

 Not One, Not Two

    How does one seek union with God?
    The harder you seek, the more distance you create between Him and you.
    So what does one do about the distance?
    Understand or recognize that it isn't there.
    Does that mean that God and I are one?
    Not one. Not two.
    How is that possible?
    The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and his song. --
    Not one. Not two.

    Anthony de Mello

THE MYSTICS describe reality as an indivisible Unity containing two, apparently distinct, aspects: an eternally unchanging and constant aspect, and an aspect that appears changing and inconstant.

To those who have never experienced that Unity, such declarations about It must appear illogical and self-contradictory. But, say the mystics, however paradoxical it may seem to the rational intellect, that is simply and truly the nature of the one reality.

In order to explain that reality which is both the eternal God and the world of forms, a reality which appears to possess two such incompatible aspects while remaining one reality, it became apparent very early on, historically, that it was necessary to introduce two terms, each to designate one aspect of this dual-faceted Being, yet which would in no way represent two separate and distinct entities, but one -- a One with two faces.

As the mystics tell us, the universe is a manifestation of an insubstantial, creative Energy. This Energy has no independent existence of its own, but is simply a "projection" of pure Consciousness and is similar to the thought-energy projected in the form of a dream-image by an individual mind.

Different cultures and traditions have distinguished between pure Consciousness and the creative Energy with terms such as, Shiva and Shakti in the East and Godhead and Christ (the Logos, the Word, or the Light) in the West. The first is the unmanifest Source and the second, the manifesting Energy that manifests the world.

So it can be said, the transcendent Absolute (Numenon) with its Energy manifests as our inner and outer world (phenomenon) -- these are simply polar aspects of the same one and only Being.

These two are not even a hair's breadth apart; they are but two different perspectives of the same reality. And the duality created by conceptually dividing the formless Source from the world of forms is only an apparent and artificial one, as they constitute an indivisible unity.

The complementarity of the unmanifest/manifesting Energy and the manifestated universe may be illustrated by an analogy with the ocean and its waves: Consider an infinite ocean; if we regard its "water-ness," the ocean is one constant whole. But if we regard its "wave-ness," that same ocean is a multiplicity of incessantly changing forms.

The ocean is the one reality that is manifesting as all the waves; and, though the waves form and dissolve, form and dissolve, the ocean as a whole remains the same, continually unchanged and unaffected.

This is exactly what the mystic experiences in his awakening to the universal Self; he appears to be but one of the many manifestations of reality, but he is, in fact, the one Reality Itself, forever unchanging, eternal.

Shankara, the great expounder of the philosophy of unity, called this apparent duality between the many and the One, a "superimposition":

    Like ripples on the water, the worlds arise from, exist in, and dissolve into, the supreme Lord, who is the material cause and support of everything.

    The manifested world of plurality is superimposed upon the eternal, all-pervading Lord whose nature is Existence- Consciousness, just as bangles and bracelets are superimposed on gold.

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