Where Duality Meets Non-Duality

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Okay, look… we have to address something here.

Lots of comments have been coming in on Heather’s latest post on her blog, which is called The Raging Debate on the Spiritual Side of Avatar.

Part of that debate, as has been highlighted by certain commenters (and also ones who responded to a review on Avatar that our colleagues, Paul and Layne Cutright, wrote) is the whole duality/non-duality issue.

Now, just by writing it that way — duality/non-duality — you can see how the very nature of the discussion is dualistic, meaning there are two sides.

People who look at life from solely a perspective of non-duality like to point out that “we’re all connected.”

That’s very true, when you’re talking about our non-physical (or spiritual) selves.

People who look at life from a solely perspective of duality say that “we’re all separate.”

And while that’s an illusion in the grand scheme of things — the big picture, or what we like to call “forest reality” — it’s very true when you’re talking about our physical selves, or “tree reality,” because while all trees are connected through dirt and air and the ethers and their vibrations, we need to look at this with some common sense.

And for all intents and purposes in their everyday life, a tree on one side of a large forest is separate from a tree on the other side.

Just as, in the mechanics of what’s important to you, in this physical life on earth, it doesn’t matter one hill of beans if you’re “connected”, in the spiritual plane, to some stranger in Japan.

So we say there’s both duality and non-duality in life, because there HAS to be.

We’ve talked about this before — many times, actually — but perhaps most succinctly in the post Heather wrote called How To Offend Yourself 100% of the Time:

And the perfection in this life comes in the perfect balance; for every yin you have a yang; for every up there’s a down, for every back there’s a front, and for every hater there’s a liker; and that never, ever changes, no matter how often you say, “We’re all connected,” because there is duality within the non-duality, and vice-versa (the opposites can’t exist without each other, so they are intimately connected). Perfection!

If you’ve ever studied physics, you know that light, similarly, has two opposite properties: it’s both waves and particles, depending on what’s required at that moment.

Isn’t it interesting that both light and life have two opposing properties?

That very fact makes them dualistic…

But it also makes them non-dualistic, since they each need the other side of the story to be complete.

Now, let’s wrap this back around to the movie, Avatar.

The non-duality lovers are either praising director James Cameron for portraying messages of non-duality, embodied by the Na’vi peoples’ ability to “plug into” animals and trees, or slamming  him for portraying a dualistic world where humans are fighting Na’vi (yes, that’s right… the non-duality supporters are divided in two on this… which is intriguingly ironic in itself).

The duality lovers see the beauty in the yin and yang shown by the good vs. evil storyline, juxtaposing heartless greed against loving generosity, violent destruction against peaceful creation, death against rebirth, and so forth.

Those that can see both sides, and embrace the ironically dualistic nature of non-duality, smile at the way they weave in and out of each other, in the movie, just like in life.

And The Crowd (or The Herd) misses the fact that there’s even a debate in the first place.

(As always, we invite intelligent, thought-provoking commentary related to the context of the above post.)

Your Partners in the Quest For
Living a Life Without Limits,

Barry and Heather

Filed under: Critical-Thinking, Movie Recommendations

4 Responses to “Where Duality Meets Non-Duality”

  1. Very interesting article and a topic you guys touched on. But you never mentioned the purpose of duality? Why does even duality exists? What fundamental purpose does the existence of duality serves? As you know very well that nothing in this universe exists without a purpose.

    I believe that duality exists in order to create balance. But I’m eager to find out what you and other enlighten people think the reason or purpose of duality is?

    Best Wishes,

    IRAJ “AJ” Mostafa

  2. Hi,
    Very well put, I totaly agree with your comments. I think you have to become a blended being. We are in a body but we are not of the body, we are in this world but not of this world. Accepting the little paradox that we have with life and understanding the truth does make life morer joyfull.



  3. Thank you Heather for 2 thought provoking posts on Avatar

    This experience I have of life has become so much sweeter now that I am able to live utilizing both perspectives…Oneness and separateness. When human existence and separateness becomes too much to handle, I can take comfort in the fact that I am also the One who experiences the whole.

    The ability to connect to both perspectives ensures I enjoy this life, but at the same time, am in awe of the connectedness and love which emanates to all of us through our spiritual self. This earthly body will die and therefore is very much like the dreams I have while sleeping.

    The dreamer or my spiritual self will go on and that is my true state. I live in the Niagara Peninsula in Canada (James Cameron’s Canadian stomping grounds). After seeing Avatar, I left the theater thinking…What I wouldn’t give to share a drink with this man and pick his brain for awhile. He has given us the gift of an amazing movie and a platform from which to expand our understandings of our true selves through dialogue.


  4. Hello Iraj

    Wow, haven’t you touched upon the ultimate question this morning. I believe humans have grappled with this question since critical thought became a reality for them. Why am I here?

    Life is such a mystery. I could pretend I know the answer to that one, but I am experiencing this life as a human with limited awareness of the majesty of all that is. My current understanding is that Oneness experiences itself through the many different personas in this dream we call life. Perhaps as separateness, we are expanding in earthly awareness so we are more closely aligned with our true selves.

    Every one of us, while exercising our free will, can work towards a true sense of Oneness and Love. Maybe it is like watching our favorite sports team; the excitement that arises from watching a well played game where mastery and good sportsmanship prevail makes existence very exciting and enjoyable for us while on this plane. Not every game is “good”, but we have faith that things will change and our favorite team will ultimately prevail. This game called life could be a very exciting way for Oneness to have an experience. After all, scripture does say “As above, so below”.

    Again, that is just my interpretation at present. I am always open to other viewpoints as that openness has helped me to progress towards an existence that is more joyful as I experience this amazing dream or game we call life.


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