Our minds find a certain ease in artificially distinguishing between the qualities of a situation. We speak of “process” and “content” in the therapy profession and “thought” and “emotion” in everyday discussion. I use the term artificial because if one takes but a moment to consider the actual experience, there is no distinction. Attempt the contemplation of an emotion without any accompanying thoughts. Attempt considering only the content of an interpersonal connection without referencing the process of its unfolding. Experience is a whole.
To separate the two, to embark on a mental journey of duality, we must separate the inseparable and create two distinct things where truly there is only one. That we do so almost effortlessly indicates the power of our brains, not the innate legitimacy of the practice. Let’s face it, there are any number of things done effortlessly which are not conducive to living with greater understanding. Think of that the next time a lack of communication leads to an assumption or filling in the gap of ignorance that, in a cosmic attempt at hilarity, almost always ends up being false and inciting a feeling of foolishness.
This artificial separation may appear harmless, but it is a root cause of anxiety and shame. When someone is considered to be having an “emotional moment” or when we only look at what a person is saying rather the way they are saying it, we are creating that artificial separation. If, instead, it is remembered that the two are not separate, that experience is a singularity, then the problem becomes glaringly obvious. When we dismiss the emotion we are therefore dismissing the thought that accompanies it; when we look only at the content of a person’s words, the subtleties and nuance of meaning are lost.
Dismissing or relegating to insignificance is easier to do when the singularity of experience is artificially differentiated. To seek broader understanding of the unknown is to dwell within the conscious acknowledgment that what is being felt is also being thought, that what is being discussed is also that which is being moved through. At such a time a person is an energetic being, not an disparate grouping of parts. At such a time a person is an active moving participant, not a collection of gears being analyzed for what fits wrong.
We live our lives so often “as if” in an existence of duality we forget that this is an artificial construct separating us from ourselves and others. We need not remove ourselves completely from dualism, if such is even possible given the construct of our mind/brains, to understand that there is an underlying reality holding everything together. Our ability to think dualistically is useful, but should always be remembered that it is an “as if” tool, not a “what is” principle.
When we are able to act “as if” within the principle of “what is,” we realize life is a singularity not a duality, and become aware of what the former was hiding from us within the latter.
© David Teachout