When we go out to one end of a polarity, we often meet the other end right there. For instance, by fully allowing an experience, there is a freedom from it right there (through reduced identification with resistance to it, and the beliefs and identities giving rise to the resistance). By going to the end of one end of the allowing-freedom from polarity, we find the other end.
Another example is the polarity of materialism and spirituality. There is a relatively easy co-existence of these two in some areas of the world, such as northern Europe, delegating them simply to different realms of existence. And in other areas, such as the US, these two are often (peculiarly?) seen as opposed to each other.
But there are also other ways to look at their relationship.
And one is to notice how the most materialistic shares many features with the most spiritual, which I see here as the nondual spirituality of Buddhism, Adveita and other traditions.
- Infinite causes and infinite effects. Both see the world of form as infinite causes and infinite effects. Anything happening has infinite causes, going back in time to the beginning of the universe and out in space to the extent of the universe, and also has infinite causes. It is the local expression of the movements of the whole world of form
- No free will. This comes out of the previous one. Everything happening has infinite causes and infinite effects, so there is no room for free will. There is no free will at the level of our human self. As hard-nosed as conventional science is, they usually don’t put it in such crass terms, but the nondual traditions often hold less back here.
- No separate self. This too comes out of the first one. The world of form is a seamless whole, and any appearance of boundaries are only created in thoughts. If we separate out this human self, we see that it is maintained in structure and content by a continuous through flow and exchange with the larger whole. It is relatively easy to recognize at an abstract level, but as long as there is a belief in a separate self, then our experience of it will be of a separate self. The only way to recognize no-self, in immediate experience, is for Ground to notice itself. First, we may find ourselves as the witness, and all form – including what initially appeared as an inside and outside – as a seamless whole. Then, there may be the recognition of even this witness as absent of any separate self.
- No inherent meaning. From a materialistic science, and also existentialistic, view, there is no inherent meaning in the universe or our human lives. And this too is what the nondual traditions report, and what we can find through our own exploration. Here now, there is just awakeness, inherently free from any particular content or form, yet allowing any and all form. And any sense of meaning comes only from a story, appearing within and is overlaid on content and form. There is no inherent meaning anywhere, since awakeness is stainless and independent of content, and also since any sense of meaning only comes from a story. And this freedom from stories and meaning allows for a free play of any sense of meaning, coming from any story. Existence already allows any sense of meaning and any story, and when we find this in ourselves, we are aligned with – and find ourselves as – that. So we are free to play with the stories that makes most sense to us, that has a practical value, fits the data more or less, and also supports – as best as we can tell – the life of ourselves, our community, and earth as a whole.
- (more to come)
One of the reason there is such as easy coexistence, and so many parallels, between these two, is that the spiritual side of it involves a recognition of Ground, of God as awakeness inherently void of any characteristics, so then allowing and being Ground for itself manifesting in the vast variety of forms we know from our own experience. On the one hand, there is a separation of Ground (awake void) and the world of form, and on the other a recognition of the two as both expressions of existence, of God. And both of these allows for the world of form to be exactly as it is, including however it is experienced by us and described by science.
This is what we find at the extreme end of the spirituality side of the polarity (as defined for the purpose of this argument).
If we go a little further in from this end, we find forms of spirituality mainly concerned with the content of awareness, with the world of form, and not much about Ground at all. And since science is mostly or all about the world of form, they find themselves sharing the same turf, so there is more possibility for conflict. One way to resolve this is to delegate areas, and this is what we see quite often. We agree on science dealing with one area of the world of form (what we can see, touch or measure with instruments) and spirituality with another area of the world of form (what we cannot measure, such as souls, afterlife, and so on).