Both sides of the street?

Sometimes, someone will talk about both sides of the street and the importance of including both. 

I imagine that they are talking about emptiness and form. Or, said another way, who (our human self) and what (that which experience happens within and as) we are. 

So what do I find if I explore this for myself? 

First, form and emptiness are always here, so that part is easy. And in daily life, my human self and what I am is here too. (I am not going into this much here.) 

When I explore it through the sense fields, I find that what happens in each (and as gestalts) is awakeness itself appearing as form. Whatever happens is empty-awake-form. Empty as in insubstantial, nothing appearing as something. Already awake. Appearing temporarily as form. 

Also, before and within awakening it is possible to temporarily emphasize one, the other, neither or both, and these are all ways God manifests, experiences and explores itself. 

What we chose as guidelines for ourselves probably depends on many things. What is available to us. What others around us do. Where we are drawn. What we have been familiar with in the past. (Going back to it because it is familiar, or exploring a different area of the terrain because it is less familiar.) 

Before awakening, it makes sense – at least if we live an ordinary life in the world – to mainly emphasize an inclusive approach. For our human self, we can use whatever conventional pointers that seem useful in terms of living in the world, healing and maturing. We can also notice that all of it is empty/awakeness itself. And we can sometimes explore the empty/awake nature more as well. Dip into it occasionally.

It is a practical approach, and there is a lot of richness in exporing each one as distinct from each other and also together. How does my human self live in the world when what I am notices itself more? What changes? How does it change over time? 

Within awakening, there is a difference between the pointers we give to others and what we explore for ourselves. In most cases, we may end up emphasizing the practical value of an inclusive approach when talking with others, even if we may talk mosty about one or the other. (If we talk about one or the other, it is usually the emptiness + what side since that one is less addressed by our culture, and the form + who side is so well covered by our culture. We supplement. Emphasize what is less available.) 

And for ourselves, there is a freedom in exploring either one, both, or neither – allowing it unfold as it does. 

Mainly, it seems to makes sense to not try to confine this too much. It can be very useful to use an inclusive approach as a pointer for ourselves, but also recognize – and expect – that it may look quite different at times. Sometimes, form may go into the foreground. Other times, emptiness goes into the foreground. Sometimes, both. Sometimes, neither one.

As helpful as it may be to hold a story – in this case of inclusiveness – as a guideline, it may also be helpful to notice what happens if it taken as anything more than that. Whenever a pointer is made into a belief, it is at odds with how life unfolds. 

What happens if I use it as a guideline? 

– It is a pointer. A reminder. Lightly held. There is receptivity. Curiosity. Interest in the terrain. (Independent of whether it fits that particular guideline or not.) 

What happens if I take it as true? 

– I identify with its view. I create an identity around it. I may try to manipulate or exclude impulses that don’t seem to fit. I may feel I am right. I get it. If others don’t agree, they are wrong. I get uptight. Tense. The guideline becomes important in itself. It becomes a way to create a sense of a separate I. A foothold. Feel that I know. Create an identity for myself.  


Initial outline…

  • empty + form
    • matter of emphasis, interest
      • within awakening, depends on impulse, interest, what want to explore
      • before awakening, practical function
    • always, adds to the richness of how God explores itself

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