Life is an endless spectrum of dichotomies and paradoxes. The mind can’t handle all the variants. It likes absolutes. So it is wired to be binary and dualistic; to see issues or people as polarities then choose a side. The side we choose often becomes our identity; which informs our beliefs and behaviors. The more strident we are about our “side” the more resistant we are to staying open. This is why I’ve said that ideology is a low form of consciousness.
Seeing the world through a dualistic lens creates a false reality. This is something all the spiritual masters and mystics throughout time have warned about. They encouraged being grounded in Reality (capital R intended) as an antidote to binary illusions. They encouraged seeing life as spherical rather than linear; allegorical rather than literal. They encouraged connectedness and oneness; of seeing humanity as a mirror of ourselves.
So where is this Reality they speak of?
It’s in the center.
It is in the tension between the paradoxes. It is in the moderated note between two sounds. It is the yin and yang in the dichotomies. It is in the center where we find both equanimity and equilibrium — that elusive balance that so many of us are seeking.
So where is this center?
The first center to find is in yourself. There are many different terms for this center, but I most like Thomas Moore’s term of “Original Self”. This is the original You; the You before life made you a constructed you. Returning to this Original Self is the great inner journey that one must take in order to find Reality. I like to envision this center of the Original Self as a comfortable chair on a high mountain. We fight and sweat and cry and bleed and walk and crawl and climb until we get there. We clamber into the chair and become witness to everything. We see Reality clearly. We are in it. We are experiencing, not enduring. We are receiving, not grasping. We are responding, not reacting.
How do you know if you’ve found your center? In Jungian terms, the traits of the core self are often called the 8 C’s:
If you are operating from these, you have found the center of You. You are living a true story; you are connected to Reality.
Another center to find is one I’ve written about previously: the center of the heart. This appears to be a separate but adjacent center from our Original Self. In my burgeoning experience, the center of the heart is where we find Eternal Love. I don’t mean this in a religious context. I mean that the center of our heart contains the present moment and that there is Love in every present moment if we look for it. This reminds me that no past memory or future projection is better than this present moment. No matter what our ego says about that. When you find this center you will see that Love is rooted in Reality.
From this center, you can truly love without attachment and projection — two things I’ve struggled with mightily over the years. From this center, Love is synonymous with Freedom. Anthony de Mello writes in “The Way to Love”: “I leave you free to be yourself: to think your thoughts, indulge your tastes, follow your inclinations, behave in ways that you decide are to your liking.”
The final center to consider seeking is the center of any idea or concept. When something is presented to you as binary, see if you can discern a third way in the middle. This doesn’t mean moral relativism or that everything is non-binary. I posit that ideas tend to be presented as a polarity and that by examining an idea with curiosity and skepticism, we can most often find a third way. This is the spirit at the center of community, collaboration and conscious partnership. This third way becomes a foundation rooted in Reality. It protects us from being gaslit by narcissists, manipulated by propaganda and from believing our own bullshit. It is also in this spirit that my buddy Juan and I are trying to unpack in our new podcast “I Might Be Wrong”. Here is a link to Spotify. It’s also on iTunes and Anchor.
The center of our being, the center of our hearts, the center of ideas are not fixed points. The ebb and flow of life will cause us to drift away at times. Returning to center is almost a daily effort. And when we return, we carry with us the wisdom of new experiences, failures, learnings.
Returning to the center is not easy. It will cause grief, death, loss, letting go. Your ego will fight you every step of the way. But I believe it is in this constant returning to center that we find a joyful, purposeful life. I believe it is where possibility lives. And healing. And meaning. And connection. And ultimately it is where we are in union with Reality.