In and Out
So much of our thought patterns and experience are programmed in patterns of “either-or”.
Either we are happy or we are sad. Our partner is either with us or against us. We are generous or mean, clever or stupid, relaxed or uptight. The “either-or” mind-set holds us in a strict state of limitation in which experience – often dictated by the mind – becomes two-dimensional.
“Either-or” is an immature position of mental consciousness in which we have lost the ability to really attend to our senses and to expand into experience.
It is the attitude of Satan when he found himself separated from the light (yet made of the same light) and thus declared: “it’s either God or Me”.
Within “either-or” attitudes is embedded the toxic belief that in order for me to exist, I must exclude the existence of others.
“Either-or” generates the suffering of competition, jealousy and hatred.
It can begin with a nation, narrow down to a particular political party or cultural sub-group, narrow still further into families, and still further to the competing lonely individuals within an individual family. As with the World Wars, the outcome of an existential fight of “either-or” is always lose-lose.
And in the inner world, we cause great shrinkage to ourselves with the “either-or” activity of the ego. We build our identity on narrow margins that exclude whole aspects of creation. “I am never angry”. (Never?). “I am a generous person” (but sometimes I need to be say “no”?)
The personality is only really free when it is of service to the soul.
Then we can be all things, according to the need that presents: angry, generous, mean, virgin, whore, criminal, perfect citizen.
As with the mind, so with feeling. Anyone who has lost a loved one will recognize the many colors of grief. We are angry and peaceful, sad but also deeply moved in a way which is almost pleasurable. We can be in fear and in trust, in supreme strength, at the same time as utterly helpless. We can love the person beyond limits, and yet hate them for leaving us. We can feel blessed with how things went, and yet a profound guilt and shame in bereavement.
Spiritual maturity that lives with a perpetual loyalty to the here-and-now will develop thought patterns and expression that allow the “and-and”. You are absolutely right. And also she, who totally opposes you, is right. It allows multiple perspectives and the coexistence of incompatible feelings.
As such, life becomes a much wider playing field – a kind of poetry in which the mind follows experience and tries to explain what is going on moment by moment, even developing an ability to contemplate on its own activity. Even developing an aptitude for just being quiet – stillness.
Sanity is not when the mind decides what experience should be artificially created, and where, when and how. Sanity is when the mind is a tool to describe direct perception.
And so with Eden.
In opening the doors to the inner Eden, you will not be moving into a state of aloof enlightenment or liberation, where the sorrows of the world are left behind. Eden will absorb you and then send you rocketing back into the very place you started. Only then, to doors to Eden remain open, and you will be observing life with a sharper, clearer and much more inclusive light.
In blending with the walls of Eden you are moving out of the “either-or”, heaven-or-hell polarity and into the “and-and”. You will be in this world and you will be of it. Change then begins to occur as old ways of thinking fall away, from the inside-out.
Where once there was the curse of original sin – the shame, the suffering, labor and death – there is opened also the truth that we are people of Eden, nurtured by the tree of life. In our inner world, we are always home at the heart of Eden, and we are also always outcasts in the wilderness, playing our role in the great learning ground which is creation.
The great tragedy is that as people we have learned to remember only the curse of the banishment from Eden, and not the blessing of Eden itself. We chose to build our culture on the basis of suffering, and to exclude ourselves from the bliss.
But it is not “either-or”. It is “and-and”.