Seeing Harmony as Disharmony
There is a way of perceiving the world in which everything is whole, complete, and perfect. This is what is sometimes called the non-dual perspective, or the enlightened perspective. This way of seeing reveals that everything is not only what it appears to be but also what it appears not to be.
Yesterday, I was talking with a friend about an apparent inner conflict that he has been struggling with. There was a knot in his stomach that he has been wanting to make go away. It reminded me of boxers in the ring. They are there to fight, yet they often seem to spend most of their time hugging each other. “That’s the defensive position,” he told me. I started laughing.
Whether it’s true or not, that is how the individual makes sense of wholeness. Two boxers are in a ring, together, at the same place and time, with an agreement that one of them will win and that the other will lose, and they are hugging each other. Even when a punch lands on its target, that forms an undeniable wholeness. The harmony of a fight is inseparable from the disharmony.
Whether or not the clenching stomach releases is irrelevant as long as it’s seen as being something that “I” have to deal with. As long as the disharmony continues, so does the harmony. The individual and the problems of the individual are in a continual dance with each other; they are wholeness in separation. The two pieces perfectly complement each other and maintain the appearance of individuality. I am always the one that suffers.
It is sometimes said that this is the non-dual, or enlightened, perspective, which suggests that there are two perspectives: enlightened and non-enlightened. The goal of awakening is sometimes thought to be about moving awareness from the non-enlightened perspective to the enlightened perspective. It’s not like that.
It’s not even true that we have to go from one perspective to two perspectives, to three perspectives, all the way up to “all perspectives.” There is in fact only one perspective, which is the enlightened perspective. That perspective is actually no perspective, and it’s all there is.
What we call the perspective of separation, of me and my problems, me and my life, is completely illusory. It’s not possible to find it because it doesn’t exist. The only possible perspective is perspectivelessness. This is what is happening right now. Wholeness doesn’t see or hear or taste or touch any differently than exactly how it’s apparently happening to the body that is reading this message. What appears to be happening as you read this message is enlightenment. And the individual, perfectly playing its part in wholeness, cannot help but misconstrue wholeness as separation.
The illusion of individuality is interpreting awakened seeing as somehow relating to someone. It continually teases apart wholeness into good and bad, right and wrong, mine and yours, here and there, now and past/future. But it can never really tease wholeness apart because wholeness is inherently inseparable. How can wholeness be separated except because it is free to appear as anything, including separation?