The Wound of Duality

~Mark Perry

From: The Mystery of Individuality

We are attracted to what resembles us most: this is the foundation of the spiritual path; the essence of our return to God is the idea of the divine in man returning to the Divine, or, to quote Plotinus, “the return of the one to the One”. Hence ideally, we are attracted to the Good and to Truth like a lower’s seed beneath the sod is attracted to the sun to bloom and thus to realize its celestial essence. he whole basis of spiritual realization is the doctrine of identity, of like being attracted to Like, or of the Divine One and All repossessing Itself of that which It really never lost. This is the vertical and essential perspective, that of pure ontology, or that of our supra-individual core. However, seen from the perspective of the individual, it is also true—though not equally so—that we are attracted to what is opposite to us because the individual is a fragment and therefore seeks completion in his missing portion, so to speak, a classic example of this being the love between a man and a woman. However what is much less obvious is that, owing to the Fall, far from being attracted we can also be repelled by what most corresponds to us archetypally, as the medieval motif of the “loathsome bride” illustrates, or the drama of the soul, unwilling to give up its illusory freedom, fleeing the Spirit. And finally, and fatefully, as unenlightened beings we are often attracted, to what is most harmful to us, whether out of perversity or pride—though these are really two sides of the same coin. Indeed, realism obliges us to note that if we are attracted to what resembles us, this qualification—“resembles us”—can mean many things outside of spiritual union, because until we know who we truly are we may be attracted to what resembles us in our ignorance, passion, individualism, or any other number of spurious selves that we acquire through inheritance—or karma—as well as through our individual choices, the intricacies of human circumstances being endless. his is the doctrine of transmigration of the soul enduring what Hindus and Buddhists term the samsara or the unceasing cycle of suffering through births and deaths and rebirths as the ego, heedless of the divine gate to liberation, wanders from deluded attachment to deluded attachment. Thus, before yielding to what attracts us the most, we need vitally to ask what is our true self: is it our idiosyncratic and perishable individuality vainly fretting on the revolving rim of Eternity or is it the immortal Self glowing in the depths of our heart? Discerning between the two is the wager of human existence.

In the wake of the proverbial Fall, man’s mind and heart have become separated to the point of operating at cross purposes. In most men, the mental individual, nurtured by passions and the illusion of being real in his own right, usurps the throne of the heart belonging to the Divine Self who, now as a monarch in exile, suppressed or banished from consciousness to the outermost fringes of our daily awareness—when not murdered —, lives in exile in our own soul, treacherously beret of authority and respect. It is this separation between mind and heart that not only is the wound of our duality but is also the cause of all the mischief of individualism posturing as our true nature; we shall dwell on this, all the more as the solution most often proposed, especially in much of so-called New Age spirituality, is to depreciate the mind in favor of the heart, a fool’s errand if there ever was one. 

Man is intelligence. And intelligence is the capacity to know the Real— mind, heart, and soul. hat notwithstanding, it has become popular to celebrate a return to the heart at the expense of ostracizing the mind, a classic instance of “throwing out the baby with the bath water”, because the problem with the mind is not the mind, obviously, but cerebralism or a hyper-mental way of viewing reality. In the West, the roots of this distortion can be traced in part to the legacy of many centuries of encroaching rationalism and scientism. What is needed, however, is not a banishing of the mind—something impossible to do without the risk of fatal damage to intelligence—but rather a profound reforming of the mind so that it can be restored to its legitimate role as the mirror of Truth, by contrast to the heart which is the seat of subjective or innermost being. But spiritual seekers today are often quick to be excited about a spirituality that engages feelings and emotions, and combines this with a kind of hazy “feel-good” kaleidoscope of intuitions about God and mankind in which thinking is rejected as a troublesome interloper. heir slogan might be: “Perish the mind, long live the heart!” Or: “Forget logic, what is needed is love.”

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