by Michael Maciel
The best analogy for “Oneness,” I believe, is our apparently “dualistic” visual apparatus (our eyes) and the way they work together to give depth to our perception. One eye is not enough. It takes two, not one, and the two must be separate entities.
If we were to say that two eyes are a problem (in that they lock us into a world of duality) we would have to concoct a story such as having one eye in the front of our head and another in the back, giving us two separate worldviews. That would be dualistic. But our eyes work together by looking in the same direction. The distance between them is what makes stereoscopic vision possible.
In this analogy of having two eyes instead of one, 3D perception is what constitutes “Oneness.” Two separate views of the world are combined, one slightly offset from the other, producing a world that is far more real to us than anything one eye could provide. One eye gives us facts; two eyes give us a feel for what we’re seeing.
Too often, we try to realize Oneness by obliterating duality, when it is duality itself that makes Oneness possible. This is paradoxical, I know, but true. The eyes see best when both are strong. If we cover one eye, we flatten our understanding. We see half a world.
Philosophically speaking, the attempt to obliterate duality is the hallmark of Postmodernism, which says that all perceptions are subjective and are therefore capable of being interpreted in an infinite number of ways. This is actually true, and the Postmodern worldview has given us many valuable things, such as critical thinking and social justice.
But Postmodernism goes too far by claiming that there are no over-arching truths, no grand narratives (except its own), and no universal moral compass. It is, in effect, the “death of God.” Ironically, this too had its beneficial effects on our collective thinking, in that it helped us distinguish the God of religion from the God of spirituality. However, this made it far too easy to slip into relativism, to make the mistake of believing that all truth is subjective, which is solipsism—the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist, which is as dualistic as one can possibly get.
All of the dual aspects of our existence give three-dimensional richness to our perception of reality. They make our lives more real. What are they? Masculine/feminine, rational/intuitive, liberal/conservative, religion/science, work/play, facts/feelings—these are not separate entities, eternally at odds with one another, as though each were vying for moral superiority or greater socio-economic value. Rather, they are two perspectives, each being, by absolute necessity, separate and distinct from the other.
Trying to blur the lines between masculine and feminine, for example, is like trying to surgically combine two eyes into one. The unique qualities of each are lost in the overlay. But these strengths are also diminished whenever each tries to go it alone without the partnership and respectful cooperation of the other. This is also true in our relationship to ourselves—our own inner masculine and feminine. This is not to say that gender lacks a certain amount of fluidity, just that homogeneity is neither desirable nor helpful.
The reality of the Masculine Ideal and the reality of the Feminine Ideal cannot be realized except in their relationship to each other. It is the relationship that constitutes Oneness, not the erasure of gender differences. Relationship does not mean assimilation—one gender neither devours nor dominates the other.
Similarly, our intuitive abilities are greatly improved when we master concentration. Learning how to direct our attention strengthens our conscious mind, making it easier to think clearly. It also enables us to quiet our thoughts, which then enables us to hear the “still, small voice within.” Each aspect, when fully and independently developed, is better adapted to work with its counterpart. Oneness becomes their offspring.
Where Oneness is needed most today is in our American political scene. Republicans and Democrats are convinced that each other is evil. The mistake is not in their differences of opinions but in identifying with their respective positions. “It’s not that I embrace Liberalism, I AM a liberal.” Such a belief is irrational and turns what should be a perspective into an ideology. The more we identify with a group, the more we become entrenched in its worldview. Pretty soon, it becomes impossible for us to even consider an alternative perspective.
Oneness in politics (as it is in gender) cannot be achieved by blending conservatism and liberalism into a single way of thinking. Oneness can only be achieved through cooperation—each working with the other without either of them betraying their own fundamental platforms. Just as procreation requires two sexes, so does the sustainability of the body politic. One party speaks for the status quo; the other speaks for change. One voice protects the state; the other voice protects the people. Both perspectives are essential.
The world is in a continual state of flux—conditions change rapidly. So our politics also have to change in order to meet each new set of challenges. And to do that, we need the two parties to work together. They don’t have to agree on everything, because that would be inappropriate—they have fundamentally different agendas after all. Because sometimes policies need to be more conservative and sometimes more liberal. Every situation requires a unique blend.
So, the upshot of this is that Oneness and Duality exist together. You can’t really have one without the other. And if you think that duality is something that has to be overcome, you only make Oneness that much harder to realize. Each has its purpose. Oneness is not an escape from duality. Oneness is what we experience when we embrace more than one perspective.
Can you honor the differences between the sexes without insisting that men become more feminine and women more masculine? And can you do that without making one existentially more valuable than the other? And, can you convincingly argue both sides of the current political debate? Can you accept that the other side might love their country every bit as much as you do? Can you acknowledge that both sides of the political spectrum are not only valid but intrinsic to democracy? We speak of balance. We endorse it. But we tend to see ourselves as the ones who are doing all the balancing. It’s the other side who are out of balance, not us. And in that, we are alike.
Look at both sides of…everything. Use both eyes, not just one.