Dualistic Thinking

Do you have a favorite sports team? Did you grow up with a rivalry between one school and another? We were brought up that way. Growing up where I did there was and still is a great rivalry between two major league baseball teams. There are two major political parties in the United States. In our lives it is often a decision between two things. It has been that way throughout human history. One group pitted against another, regardless of the size of the group, a local school rivalry or nation against nation. One group always wants the upper hand or dominance over the other. That way of thinking creates and perpetuates wars, slavery, racism, classicism and the other ills that plague human society. It is a dualistic or binary way of thinking.

Jesus meant to change that by breaking down the barriers of the day and all of humanity. He reached out to the very people society shunned like the Samaritan woman at the well. Today dualistic thinking and divisions are on the increase as walls are built and people from other nations are blocked from entering others even if they are fleeing their home country from war, famine or political upheaval. This dualistic way thinking and living is not what God intended for humanity. As Christians and as people we are to live as one human race accepting of all.

It takes effort to live a non-dual existence. We have not been brought up that way and our society, where might makes right, does not aid in our spiritual and emotional development to live a non-dualistic or nonbinary life. “The binary mind, so good for rational thinking, finds itself totally out of its league in dealing with things like, love, death, suffering, infinity, God, sexuality, or mystery in general. It just keeps limiting realty to two alternatives and thinks it is smart because it chooses one! The two alternatives are always exclusionary, usually in an angry way: things are either totally right or totally wrong, with me or against me, male or female, Democrat or Republican, Christian or pagan, on and on it goes. The binary mind provides quick security and false comfort, but never wisdom. It thinks it is smart because it counters your idea with an opposing idea. There is usually not much room for a reconciling third.” (Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ p. 205)

One sees a non-binary, non-dualistic way of life in Jesus if we look at scripture with this in mind as we read. Jesus’ answer to questions posed to him often confounded those who asked the question. They did
not understand how Jesus got such great wisdom. It had to come from God! Jesus’ life was a nondualistic, non-binary existence.

This way of living requires mindfulness in our self and our place in society. It requires a new way of thinking about life for us, to break away from what we have been taught. It requires deep contemplative thought and prayer. It is not a one and done type of thing but a life process of being brought to a new way of thinking and a new outlook on life, humanity, faith and God. It is in fact what the message of the
Gospels is, to find a new life in Christ.