If-not-this-then-that

So many of the misconceptions about what the spiritual path is, and what a “spiritual person” is come from feeding truths through the lens of if-not-this-then-that. Aka, duality. But drop the spiritual word “duality” for a moment and all ideas of what “nonduality” must mean. Instead, some examples of the ego lens, or of how duality presents itself on the spiritual path in the guise of if-not-this-then-that:

  • If we don’t need to figure things out, that must mean that being blank ditzy ninnies is the way to be.

  • If we aren’t our story of the character we are playing, then that must mean that we are nothing. The lost-in-space-person. Dissociated from any personhood. 

  • If we aren’t in charge of our lives via our thoughts about what should or should not happen, then that must mean we are doormats who lay around doing nothing, being nothing, accomplishing nothing. And if we are taken advantage of or harmed, we should be ok with it.

  • If it’s good to have higher consciousness, then that must mean that when we are hurting, struggling, or in pain that we should get over it. Or that there is something wrong with us. We should be the perpetually “high vibes” person. 

  • If everything is ultimately woven of Love, then that must mean that when something unpleasant is happening in my life, or I am distressed by something happening in the world, I have failed at my spiritual path. 

Really? Is it true? 

Written out in glaring terms it comes off as comedic, but of course as our sweet ego selves, which can only see through the lens of duality, try to navigate being on this path they grasp for meaning. Ego says, “Tell me the rules so that I can follow them and do well at this task.” 

But what if the only rule, invitation is a better word, is no duality? No if-not-this-then-that. The ego cannot accomplish this task, so it spins as it tries to do its best to deliver results. (Sweetheart! Can we have a moment of deep love and gratitude for this ego structure that wants so badly to deliver love and safety to us! To accomplish the task of living this life so perfectly!) 

Only the Soul can integrate a more alive and nuanced view and experience of life. Only the Soul is capable of ongoing lived-experience inquiry. For example:

  • If we don’t need to figure things out, what is living this life? How do things like decisions, discernment, and knowings emerge? 

  • If we aren’t our story of the character we are playing, what are we? What’s a story? Where does it come from? What is left when I don’t associate so strongly with the stories I’ve always had of what makes up Me. 

  • If we aren’t in charge of our lives via our thoughts about what should or should not happen, what takes the place of “should” and “shouldn’t”? Maybe phrases like “I would like” or “I notice” or “I don’t want” come forward instead, gently telling me the truth of how life wants to move in any given moment.

  • If it’s good to have higher consciousness, why? What quality does that bring into my life? What does “higher consciousness” even mean? What does it feel like?

  • If everything is ultimately woven of Love, can I still love my hurting distressed self? Can I love my ego, my dualistic self, trying so hard to make sense of all this? Can I love the way the world or my life breaks my heart sometimes and asks me to really live the ferocity of that? As love? What is that like? 

See what happens when you swap if-not-this-then-that for open inquiry of your direct experience. No answers needed.