One of the most important endeavors along the path of self-realization and holistic fulfillment is in developing a sense of connection to something greater than oneself. Many mystical traditions refer to this as a dual mind—the simultaneous presence of a self consciousness (awareness of one’s individual self, mind, body, etc.) and a non-self consciousness (awareness of something greater to which the individual is intimately connected). I often it refer to this dual mind as the Witness and the Ego, and what a difference this dual awareness makes in the everyday happenings of life.
When the dual mind is alive—when the strange, almost paradoxical awareness of both the self and the greater whole exist simultaneously—the mind maintains the significance and uniqueness of an individual’s life while at the same time relieving much of the pressure and importance from one’s particular circumstances. The minutia of everyday ups and downs seems much less important, for life can be looked at as a whole—not just one’s own life, but the ancient lineage of life eternal, the infinite consciousness of which we are all part. How unique and small and precious each of our lives are; and yet how quick and tiny and unimportant these particular circumstances, which we call a life. Both sentiments are alive at the same time—a true paradox, exemplary of the enigma of existence in general.
For many, this dual mind invites both liberation as well as anxiety. The ego wants desperately to hold onto a sense of purpose, to know that the self matters, and that its life is of great consequence. This is okay; the ego must do what it does, and it is very important for mental health to know and believe in one’s individual purpose. However, the paradox lies in the simultaneous awareness of the infinite realm, where each individual is just a manifestation of a universal whole. This awareness is held by the Witness, who knows the individual self and one’s particular circumstances do not ultimately matter in the way the ego wants them to. The Witness has no self, and so has no problem with this; only the ego is in conflict with the idea of a Witness, for it means a letting go of self.
The trick, it seems, is to accept both simultaneously. That’s why this is called a dual mind—liberation is not about letting go of Ego to become purely Witness. Rather, liberation and inner peace lie in accepting both, simultaneously: sustaining awareness and total acceptance of both Ego and Witness—the middle path, not one or the other, but both together as two parts of a whole. The Warrior that maintains a sense of self and simultaneously a sense of the Greater Spirit (and thus no-self), walks onto the battlefield of life with purpose and drive and yet also without attachment or debilitating fear.
A sense of a dual mind becomes very apparent as we remember our fallen warriors on this day of Memorial. Our nation’s heroes certainly maintained a sense of duty, service, and honor that extended beyond their scope of self to something greater—call it God or country or purpose. Whatever each individual believed he or she was fighting for, one does not go into battle or a burning building or any dangerous situation, with the intent to help or protect complete strangers, without a strong “Big Picture” sense of connecting to the greater good, to the oneness of a people, to the collective heart of a nation or community. For this courageous dual mind, in which the Witness placed his mission before the ego and individual self, we give great thanks and honor to each of their memories.
AFFIRMATIONS OF THE WEEK
I am a unique and special part of something greater than myself.
All these little things don’t matter as much as I think.
I am me and not me, both are true at the same time.