Non-duality is fun and confusing at the same time. As a feminist, I struggle. Can I see unity in diversity? Can I comprehend the whole? So many years of opposing, resisting, critiquing. Standing apart was how I identified myself as a teacher, researcher, writer, and activist. Now my spiritual awakening is making me wonder. Can I be ‘against’ something now, or not? Can I be ‘in’ the whole somehow?
This is a tough thing to figure out, this non-duality thing. It comes up like turmoil when I reflect on righteous anger, or fighting against injustice. If non-duality is neither/nor — if it is another ‘thing’ entirely, what is it? Can one have anger and be in a non-dual space? I don’t know.
I do know that I immediately notice and despair when I read articles that convey absolutely no awareness of the cosmos, of the consciousness that wants to emerge, or of the incredible limitation of intellectual and cognitive knowing. I quickly loose interest when academics talk on and on — in their heads only, pontificating about classification, measurement, and definitions, with no concern for relationships, connections, the ecosystem. Was I like that? Probably. Yes. Yes I was I think.
I want it to be different somehow. Writing this now I consciously return to my breath, to my body, to see what wants to emerge. What wants to connect, what wants to be whole again. Goethe talked about this type of inquiry — an inquiry into the whole, an inquiry into relationships and connections. “Goethe’s approach to science was truly ecological — he always tried to understand things in relation to their broader connection.” (Holdrege, C., 2014, “Goethe and the Evolution of Science.”) Can I understand/experience patriarchy in relation to the whole, as a part of it, without judgment? Can I understand patriarchy non-dualistically?
Goethe didn’t examine things apart from each other because he believed/knew/experienced that “every part of a larger whole is truly a member of that whole and expressive of it.” He knew that “adequate knowledge could only be attained by a way of knowing that perceives and beholds — and doesn’t only articulate generalizations about — dynamic wholeness in life.” Yes I have perceived and experienced patriarchy; do I look at it as a dynamic current across the ages? A current that can change, grow, fade? Can I behold patriarchy anew?
That is hard to do. As a feminist I see patriarchy everywhere. Every. Where. I’m in it, I breathe it, I am angered by it. Just today I signed our tax form as “filer’ instead of “spouse” as my daily dose of resistance. As a White woman learning of White Supremacy Culture, I see that everywhere, too. Every. Where. I’m in it, I breathe it, I mistakenly perpetuate it despite my best efforts.
How can I be OK with these structures of oppression? How can I ‘behold’ them? What would a non-dual, holistic, and relational view of this be? I find it hard to imagine, to release and let go of my sense of injustice and judgment.
I take another breath and breathe in the late afternoon sun shining through my windows. “It is up to us to adapt ourselves to what the phenomena have to show — and not primarily to adapt them to our habitual ways of knowing…if we want to behold nature in a living way, we must follow her example and become as mobile and malleable as nature herself.’” Ummm….yes, Goethe’s focus was plants, not social inequality...is it easier with plants to withhold judgment? Perhaps, but I sense a resonance with his way of being with, rather than looking at, the focus of his inquiry. I resonate with his sense of nature, of the natural, of the divine feminine fluid way of knowing.
“Goethe saw that progress in science depends upon the development of inner capacities and sensibilities — and not only on the ever further refinement of external instruments and methods…You could say that it’s an effort to create a science that is itself more whole by integrating it into the whole — and that means the developing — human being.”
OK, yes….yes….this I think I understand. It is a challenge to release judgment and develop the ‘inner capacities’ of non-dual thinking…to develop new awarenesses as a non-dual feminist scholar/activist. To allow the focus of my inquiry — patriarchy — to be seen and understood in a new way. To see patriarchy holistically, embedded in a wide net of relationships, and to see it without judgment.
This is hard work. I’m working on it. Stay tuned.