Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. WALT WHITMAN
It's clear to me that we spend much of our lives in a state of division, in a state of negotiation or even conflict between mind and body, thinking and feeling, intellect and intuition, puritanism and hedonism, art and life, form and content, sin and sainthood, the physical and the metaphysical, sanity and madness.
We have been ever thus, in this very human state — or at least since Adam and Eve's expulsion from the harmony, unity and innocence of the Garden of Eden in the Biblical myth. From then on the dialectic of dualism has pervaded most religions, philosophies and sciences. And in his book The Divided Self the psychiatrist RD Laing argues that psychosis results from the struggle between the two personas within us: our authentic, private identity and the 'false' self we present to the world.
I know I've simplified and conflated lots of ideas here, and to unpick them all would take many words of explanation and clarification or many hours of argument and discussion. And how divisive that would be!
What I'm really getting at is this: can we perhaps see these polarities, rifts and conflicts within us, within our thought structures and within the world, as part and parcel of and definition of the whole; accept them as inevitable and right; reconcile them and recognise them as necessary to the multiform yet unified self; consider them indivisible? After all, day is as essential to night as night is as essential to day; and without the light there would be no dark, and without the dark there would be no light, and everything would be a uniform shade of grey, and rather tedious. Heaven — with its eternal do-gooding and happy-clappy saints — must be such a boring place.
This would entail a paradigm shift in our thinking. It would require us to examine and understand the darker sides to our nature. It would require us to appreciate and tolerate different religions, philosophies and cultures, different ways of doing things. It would require us to indulge as well as to fast, to follow our animal passions as well as the dictates of our intellect, to act with our body and soul as one, and not feel guilty or conflicted. The love and the hate, the harmony and the division, the beauty and the terror will always be there, coexisting. Can we accept this?
Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final. RAINER MARIA RILKE