Recently I assisted Senior Pathwork Helper Jac Conaway in the Sacred Dimensions weekend at Sevenoaks Retreat Center. We examined our beliefs about reality, and how we take for granted what we think we know is true. A simple exercise of putting a plastic bag over our heads demonstrated how we see everything through a certain lens, and assume what we are seeing is what everyone else is seeing, and that it is the final reality and truth of the matter.
Back home, I had a conversation with a friend over an opposing view of life….each of us held a different perspective that was near and dear to our hearts. Each of us deeply believed in the certainty and goodness and rightness of our perspective. Each of us felt the other was somehow well-intentioned but misguided.
Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is good? Who is bad? It was like both of us were talking to each other with bags over our heads, full of pain and hurt and anger and shock at the perceived reality of the other. I left saddened at the apparent impasse.
Both of us had been in emotional reaction. Both of us had moments where we spoke from judgment, anger, and assumption. Of course, I say this from my own limited perspective, and she may have had a different take on our interaction, but I think it would be safe to say we both had bags over our heads. And yet I still believe both of us were doing our best to see the other. We were both trying to listen and hear and understand the other.
It is so easy to get lost in the world of duality, and at times so hard to find our way out. In these times of intense division and polarization, I think the only thread holding us together is Love.
I have known this friend half of my life. I love her. I know without a shadow of a doubt the goodness of her heart. I deeply respect her willingness to engage in difficult conversation.
I also know that truth is calling me from deep in my heart and soul. And I must do my best to align with it. I may at times speak that truth from a limited perspective, clouded and distorted and mixed with hidden motives of anger, judgment, and negativity. But I cannot betray that truth and have peace in my soul. I cannot stay silent. I don’t expect her to either.
I can continually examine and re-examine and attempt to align with my higher motives of love and truth, and forgive myself with compassion when I ultimately fall short. I can offer the same forgiveness and compassion to others. But I must be willing to show up in my imperfection and speak my best understanding of truth. To try to reach the other, and to try to hear their efforts to reach me. To strive to find that middle ground, the place where both of us are right and both of us are wrong and in different languages we are speaking the same truth.
In Lecture 143, the Guide says:
“…the moment you are willing to be in truth, the moment you are eager and prepared, not merely to see your way, your little truth, not to give in to the other’s little truth in fear of the consequences if you do not, but when you wish to possess the larger, more encompassing truth, which transcends both of your little truths, a specific tension will be removed in your psyche. The way toward the manifestation of the real self will have been prepared.”
So how do you know when you are lost in the world of duality? Here are some clues:
You are certain you are 100% right, and the other is 100% wrong.
You feel a strong urgency to make sure the other “knows” the truth.
You feel judgmental, superior, self-righteous, or any strong emotional reaction (as opposed to genuine appropriate emotion)
You are unwilling to look at how you might be contributing to the discord.
If we really want to change the minds and hearts of those who hold different opinions, we must be willing to take a good hard look at our own minds and hearts. It is not only what we say but how we say it that will be our loudest, clearest, and most effective message.
Yet at the same time, we must each have faith in that still small voice that whispers inside, and find the courage to speak it even if others disagree. We must be willing to stay engaged with those who see life from a different perspective.
They are not people we need to change, but mirrors and teachers of where we are in distortion. They are reminding us that we have bags over our heads, and inviting us to poke a little hole in that bag, to see life from a larger perspective.
At least, that is what I believe. You may see it differently. So I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments below.
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