Differentiation/No Difference & Fluidity

An emphasis found in Zen and the Big Mind process, is fluidity. To be able to fluidly move with the different ways the mind functions, the different voices – whether they are on a personal or transpersonal level.

An aspect of this is reflected in the dynamic relationships within a holarchy: every phenomena functions as a self-regulating whole in itself and as an intrinsic part of a larger whole. Every phenomena can be seen as a holon, both a whole in itself and a part of larger systems. And within this is the polarity between whole and part, seamless unity and differentiation. And all of this is present in any situation.

This came up for me again, as I was thinking of the polarity of setting apart and no differentiation.

I appreciate very much the Norwegian traditions in general, and that of my own family in particular, where there are certain times set apart. There is dinner at about 5pm, where everyone gather around the table for a full and nourishing meal. On Saturday evenings, we gathered at around 7pm for hot chocolate, sandwiches, orange juice and chocolate (it was the only time during the week where I had juice and chocolate). On weekends, we would go out in the woods, to a lake or the ocean, and later to the cabin – to go hiking, pick berries, fish or go swimming. For Christmas, there are particular cookies only made and eaten during these two or three weeks. And there are particular activities and dinners for the different days of Christmas. For the constitution day, there is again particular activities and particular foods. And there is a porridge eaten only during mid-summer as well. For any special occasion, we would eat by a different (larger) table, with a different set of table decking and in our finest clothes.

I have also learned to appreciate more the American version of all this, which is typically to not set apart special occasions so much. People are usually dressed about the same, much of the food is the same as other special occasions or even during the week.

One tradition sets times apart, and the other does not so much. And I have found the value in being fluid between these two approaches, to not be stuck in expectations of only one way of doing it. They both have their value, and together – it is fuller and richer.

These patterns come up in all areas of our life. Sometimes is it appropriate to emphasize the no difference, other times it is appropriate to emphasize the difference.

It may be good to behave as if with others, when we are alone. And as if we are alone when with others. This emphasizes no difference, there is no need to act very much differently whether alone or with others. This helps us become more comfortable with ourselves, as we are. And it may be good to act differently according to different situations as well. The trick is to not be stuck in one or the other. To not believe in particular ideas of how it “should” be.

And of course, sometimes it is appropriate to emphasize the no difference among people. This brings a sense of inclusiveness and opens for recognition and empathy. We see ourselves in others, and others in ourselves. And sometimes it is appropriate to emphasize differentiation, to see how we function differently. Sometimes it is appropriate to emphasize the body/mind whole, and sometimes it is appropriate to look at the particulars within this whole.

As we move between the poles of these polarities with more fluidity, and deepen our exploration of and familiarity with each, we have more easily access to one or the other or both. They are always there, although one may be emphasized more in some situations, and the other in other situations.

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