The word dualism has several meanings, but in LISN it is focused on the issue of thinking about right vs wrong, good vs bad. This is also known as ethical dualism, and refers to the practice of imputing evil or wrong entirely and exclusively to a specific group of people, while disregarding or denying one’s own capacity to do the same wrongs.
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Dualism is all about “compare and contrast,” all very useful in first-half of life tasks. It helps to define boundaries.
Non-dualism seems to always say “Yes but also no,” or “this” but also “that.” It lives with ambiguity, with paradox, with contradiction, with mystery. We see wholes and not just parts. This is the mystic within us.
Richard Rohr explains it this way in Dualistic and Non-dual Thinking : “The dualistic mind is essentially binary, either/or thinking. It knows by comparison, opposition, and differentiation. It uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, smart/stupid, not realizing there may be a hundred degrees between the two ends of each spectrum. Dualistic thinking works well for the sake of simplification and conversation, but not for the sake of truth or the immense subtlety of actual personal experience. Most of us settle for quick and easy answers instead of any deep perception, which we leave to poets, philosophers, and prophets. Yet depth and breadth of perception should be the primary arena for all authentic religion. How else could we possibly search for God?
We do need the dualistic mind to function in practical life, however, and to do our work as a teacher, a nurse, a scientist, or an engineer. It’s helpful and fully necessary as far as it goes, but it just doesn’t go far enough. The dualistic mind cannot process things like infinity, mystery, God, grace, suffering, sexuality, death, or love; this is exactly why most people stumble over these very issues. The dualistic mind pulls everything down into some kind of tit-for-tat system of false choices and too-simple contraries, which is largely what “fast food religion” teaches, usually without even knowing it. Without the contemplative and converted mind—honest and humble perception—much religion is frankly dangerous.”
See also: The Concept of Good
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