Non-Dualistic Thinking

One final post prompted by my reading of Richard Rohr’s Falling Upwards.

Rohr gives one the simplest, yet completely accurate description of dualistic thinking. He writes that dualistic thinking is the “well-practiced pattern of knowing most things by comparison. And for some reason, once you compare or label things (that is, judge) you almost always conclude that one is good and the other is less good or even bad.”

Rohr presents “seven C’s of delusion, suggesting that the dualistic mind compares, competes, conflicts, conspires, condemns, cancels out any contrary evidence, and crucifies with impunity.

In contrast, when we grow into nondualistic thinking (he also uses the terms contemplative thinking and both-and thinking), “you no longer need to divide the field of every moment between up and down, totally right or totally wrong, with me or against me. It just is. This calm allows you to confront what must be confronted with even greater clarity and incisiveness.

Dualistic thinking is not inherently bad. Rohr suggests it is very helpful – even necessary – in the first half of life. The hope, however, is that as we move to the second-half of life, we can grow from dualistic thinking to nondualistic thinking. “Nondualistic thinking presumes that you have first mastered dualistic clarity, but also found it insufficient for the really big issues like love, suffering, death, God, and any notion of infinity. In short, we need both.”

For what it is worth, regarding how we move to nondualistic thinking, I think Rohr’s The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See is an wonderful book to read.