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.


3 thoughts on “Non-Dualistic Thinking

  1. Interesting… to have a truly Chistian world view, one must have a binary mind-set, think in terms of right and wrong. There are but two kingdoms spiritually, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. To walk in the “gray” area, is to walk in confusion. To that extent, we are dualistic and rightfully so. That being said, I do believe one must be very sensitive to a “dualistic” mindset when appraising one’s walk with Christ. Relativism can so easily creep into our thinking and belief system. There is the standard of God’s Word and then there is the standard of man, which all too often are melded into a theology many live by. That is a dualism we must be aware of and combat at every turn.

  2. Often without a “confessor” or facilitator during one’s life journey, so much of Scripture, of printed or spoken words intended to enlighten unintendedly smothers through perceptions of judgment and spiritual growth stagnating.

    “…judge, always conclude, less good or even bad.”

    “…delusion, conspires, condemns, cancels out any contrary evidence, and crucifies with impunity.”

    “…divide the field of every moment… totally right or totally wrong, with me or against me.”

    Often words separate the author from reader or hearer with declaration and adjective. Dr. Tierno sharing St. Francis’ quote, “Preach the Gospel and when neccessary use words.” has never been more appropriate.

    Are we not called to ensure the soil is fertile before planting, before bearing witness…

  3. Dear Friend,

    I work at the leading academic center that researches enlightenment, nonduality, mystical experience, union with the divine, transcendental consciousness, and similar states of consciousness. The academic term for these is persistent non-symbolic experience (PNSE).

    We coordinate, assist, and evaluate psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience research in these areas. Though it is not very well known outside of the university system, amazing work is being done at leading universities worldwide. Collectively millions of dollars has been invested in these studies, and over a thousand research participants are involved on 6 continents.
    Over the past couple of years we’ve seen several major breakthroughs in understanding the scientific elements of non-duality. We see this work as a complement to the work of people like yourself who are helping people with nonduality. As such, we are reaching out to nondual community leaders to formally connect. Please send us an email at to be added to our register of nondual leaders and practitioners.

    We’re about to publish the most comprehensive research on PNSE and would like to invite you and your group members to a free online presentation of this work this SUNDAY, November 9th @ 5:30 PST. Before taking the results to the wider world, we wanted to start by sharing the results of this groundbreaking and comprehensive study with the nondual community that helped to make the research possible.

    Please click this link to register for this free event. You can also share this link with your group.

    I’ve included a link to our center site below. On it you will find several documents and video links so that you can see the scope and commitment we’ve had to this over the years.

    Thanks so much,

    Minal Sugandha

    Center for the Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness

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