Replacing Dualism & War with Non-dualism, Interdependence, Compassion

Dualism is the basis of all war.  It creates either/or thinking.  Subject/object thinking is necessary for carrying on wars. 

As more than 6,500 people from 38 passenger planes diverted to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11 waited to resume their lives, some joined in prayer and reflection. From the musical Come From Away. WhatsOnStage

Mysticism is non-dualism.  Julian of Norwich invented the word oneing.  How much oneing are we capable of?  Our experiences of ecstasy are oneing experiences.  Our experiences of awe are oneing experiences.  Our experiences of grief and loss can be oneing experiences also. 

Also, interdependence is non-dualism and today even science is preaching interdependence.  It is a “law” or habit of the universe. 

Another word for interdependence is Compassion.  In his last talk given three hours before his martyrdom, Thomas Merton said:

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all those living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another.

Days before his death, Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama planned to bring East and West together in compassion. This mini-documentary covers the fulfillment of that vision. compassionrising

How keen is our awareness of the interdependence of all beings?  Isn’t that at the heart of an ecological awareness?

In times of war, the sense of interdependence gets shattered.  One side calls the other side “vermin” or reduces them to objects in whatever way they can.

Long before today’s science, interdependence was celebrated by the mystics. So today’s post-modern science, in this way at least, is catching up with mystical wisdom: if interdependence is the foundation of compassion, then the potential exists for a compassion explosion to arrive real soon.  Will it be soon enough?  Can mysticism and science meet on this common ground?

“The Human as Microcosm of the Macrocosm.” Hildegard of Bingen, De Operatione Dei, discussed in Matthew Fox’s Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen.

Some mystics teaching about interdependence include Meister Eckhart: “What happens to another, whether it be a joy or a sorrow, happens to me.”

“All creatures are interdependent.”

Hildegard of Bingen:

Everything that is in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.

Compassion seeks to right relationships and Hildegard believes that “creation blooms and flourishes when it remains in right relationship and keeps to its assigned tasks.”  

To be continued.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, “Creation-Centered Spirituality from Hildegard to Julian: Three Hundred Years of an Ecological Spirituality in the West,” in Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life, pp. 75-104.

See also: Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp, 417-439.

And Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion.

And Fox, A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, pp. 107-142.

Also see Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, pp. 59ff.

Banner Image: Black-and-white thinking: “One Fork And Shadows.” Photo by Traveller_40 on Flickr


Queries for Contemplation

What are your experiences of interdependence?  And of Oneing?  How are they the opposite of war?


Recommended Reading

Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life

In one of his foundational works, Fox engages with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets in profound and hard-hitting essays on such varied topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interfaith or Deep Ecumenism and more.

Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart

Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.”  — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.  

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register

A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey

In A Way to God, Fox explores Merton’s pioneering work in interfaith, his essential teachings on mixing contemplation and action, and how the vision of Meister Eckhart profoundly influenced Merton in what Fox calls his Creation Spirituality journey.
“This wise and marvelous book will profoundly inspire all those who love Merton and want to know him more deeply.” — Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism

Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen

An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition.  At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.”  – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.


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4 thoughts on “Replacing Dualism & War with Non-dualism, Interdependence, Compassion”

  1. Avatar

    Recently, I was in the midst of trying to navigate my way through a traumatic event, in which I was filled with much pain, sorrow and depression. I joined with my drum team only able to offer my tears as my prayer. Together as we drummed and sang the ancient chants, I saw the ancestors dancing and singing all around us, using their rattles and feathered fans; sweeping the energy of pain, sorrow and depression away.

    Later, lying in bed, I literally felt the compassionate presence of Spirit tightly holding me, gently sharing its essence with me. I felt the Oneing With this spiritual energy rising within me; and I knew that I was not alone.

    This merciful blessing, of being Oned With, comforted and consoled me, shifting my energy, to begin again; with a new awareness of the essence and presence of Spirit that is always with me, within me, for me and moving through me and my life.

    Truly I am being loved, to love. What is freely given, I receive, what I receive I now have within me to give; all One Soul, One Drum, beating the rhythms of One Love, One Song of Compassion; offering waves of comfort and consolation to all those in mourning, pain, suffering and sorrow.

    Like the Phoenix, many are rising from the ashes of our war torn ways. A new vision is slowly unfolding within the feathered wings of the collective, consciously evolving. Oneness is beginning to emerge as we converge in solidarity, amidst all the contractions and expansions of this new birth.

  2. Avatar

    Since my early adult years I have been drawn to the writings and experiences of the mystics from all mystical traditions around the world. Even the writings of the mystic and modern depth psychologist Carl Jung about the archetype of our Higher Self influenced my choice of psychotherapy as a career until retirement in 2015. My spiritual journey continues with a deep appreciation for liberation theology, Creation Spirituality, Christian mysticism, Indigenous spirituality, the Divine Feminine, Peace & Justice around the world, and our sacred physical and non-physical multidimensional-multiverse Cosmos… The Divine Spirit of Our Source~Co-Creator is ALWAYS Alive and Present in our unique hearts~Souls in LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  3. Avatar

    As a child I felt interdependence with my classmates, until about third grade. My teacher that year happened to be an IHM nun. My experiences with nuns before this, were pretty positive. This teacher introduced her way of doing things and I strongly disagreed with her ways. She introduced competition, and endless micromanaging of us. She made every lesson really boring, instead of exciting or engaging, as it had been before. I stopped participating and being a part of this group. I wouldn’t play her game. Then it turned into war. The effects were anxiety, isolation, rejection, and scapegoatism. It was a really hard year for me and I still carry the effects of that. I see that I have to do more forgiveness of that Sister. I have to somehow put some love into the situation instead of anger and bitterness. I have to find compassion for her and shower her with it. I see now that she had problems and was suffering in her life, and doubted her own worthiness.

  4. Avatar

    Soul’s Baby Steps

    my soul, our soul, threw baby arms around the earth,
    ran forward, giggly happy,
    hug tight our mommy universe!
    joy!
    leapt
    uninhibited
    into mommy’s wide open cuddling arms
    such certainty!
    Only could
    a child’s confidence
    in the immeasurable comfort of
    mommy’s
    unconditional love
    be able to hold, for a timeless moment,
    such beauty.

    Do you love me, mommy?
    Yes, my sweet.

    Always.

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