Unify Overcoming Constraints

Discovering Non-Duality

Bina­ry think­ing only looks at part of a more com­plete pic­ture. To expand our scope of aware­ness, we must look beyond our oppos­ing views and focus on what uni­fies us through­out life.

“Our abil­i­ty to reach uni­ty in diver­si­ty will be the ­beau­ty and test of our civ­i­liza­tion.” — Mahat­ma Gandhi 

We feel that wedge issues with strict oppos­ing posi­tions con­fis­cate too much atten­tion in pop­u­lar dis­course. We can appre­ci­ate the sim­plic­i­ty of how cat­e­gories like lib­er­al and con­ser­v­a­tive can eas­i­ly cre­ate sides for peo­ple to choose between. Yet, this divi­sive­ness fails to address the nuances and com­plex­i­ties that exist with­in each individual.

Rigid rules and bound­aries dic­tate expec­ta­tions and con­trol con­di­tions, but they also put up big bar­ri­ers. When it comes to com­plex, mul­ti-faceted prob­lems, sin­gle-use solu­tions won’t be suf­fi­cient. To work with intri­cate­ly con­nect­ed, and often invis­i­ble, issues, the best approach­es involve agili­ty and adapt­abil­i­ty (a port­man­teau of these two strengths could be called adapt-agili­ty).

“If you iden­ti­fy with the ego plane, you’ll find you’re in time, you’re in space, you’re a lit­tle body. But go to the spir­i­tu­al heart, and there will be a door­way to the next plane of con­scious­ness: soul land.” — Ram Dass

Non-dual­i­ty refers to a spir­i­tu­al aware­ness that tran­scends dichotomies such as “me” and “you”, or “us” and “them”. In non-phys­i­cal, form­less terms, a spir­i­tu­al con­nec­tion to supreme com­plex­i­ty emerges through non-dual­i­ty. Root­ed in Vedic, Hin­du, Bud­dhist, Islam­ic, and Judeo-Chris­t­ian tra­di­tions, the notion of non-dual­i­ty speaks to an evolved, and per­haps pri­ma­ry, state of con­scious­ness that many spir­i­tu­al prac­tices have sought to describe. There are, by neces­si­ty, count­less ways to arrive at non-dual­i­ty. There is not even one uni­ver­sal­ly accept­ed def­i­n­i­tion of non-dual­i­ty. This lack of defin­i­tive­ness also feels appro­pri­ate. There’s room for everything.

“I’ve walked the future, I’ve looked at a record, I’ve seen a place, I have all the data.” — Paul Atreides/ Muad’Dib, Dune, p. 32

“The Prin­ci­ples of Light and Col­or”, Edwin D. Bab­bit, 1878
“Hand with Reflect­ing Sphere”, M. C. Esch­er, 1935

This notion of vari­ety gives rise to a uni­fy­ing prin­ci­ple inher­ent in tran­scen­den­tal aware­ness that we can apply to our search for glob­al sys­temic trans­for­ma­tion. Vari­a­tion and rep­e­ti­tion are key ingre­di­ents to achiev­ing whole-sys­tems inte­gra­tion of diverse ele­ments arranged seam­less­ly like a knit­ted fabric.

Our incli­na­tion is to give atten­tion to the dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed space between dual­i­ties, bina­ries, and even dou­ble-enten­dres. Because these inter-zones func­tion like waves between fixed points, they can offer fer­tile ter­ri­to­ries for pos­i­tive trans­for­ma­tion. Of course, con­tra­dic­tions will inevitably occur. Oppo­si­tions will pop up. What can we do? Cer­tain­ly not just drop our con­vic­tions. Yet, we can also learn to see that our con­vic­tions only tell a small piece of a sto­ry. With­out com­plete con­text, there’s only so much that can be under­stood. Oh, and how much more there always is to experience…

You are at the cen­tre of every­thing.” — Adam Curtis

Josh Apple­gate, 2019

The notion of non-dual­i­ty sym­bol­izes the eter­nal: where every­thing exists at once. The akashic record and quan­tum holo­gram are two names for the idea that every­thing in existence—past, present, future—is inte­grat­ed with­in a whole sys­tem in which all infor­ma­tion and meta­phys­i­cal phe­nom­e­na are stored.

Philoso­pher and sys­tems the­o­rist Ervin Lás­zló dis­cuss­es the “Akashic field” in his book, Sci­ence and the Akashic Field: An Inte­gral The­o­ry of Every­thing, pub­lished in 2004. László’s work pro­vides an under­stand­ing of the “Akashic field” as a “con­stant and endur­ing mem­o­ry of the uni­verse”.3 This field rep­re­sents a way of see­ing past, present, and future all bound with­in the same sto­ry. The acknowl­edge­ment that every­thing we ever encounter—whether in a cur­rent moment, after the fact, or even in the future—is avail­able in this field has the effect of open­ing our minds and vision to a pro­found field of expe­ri­ence. Imag­ine look­ing around. In each direc­tion, you see mul­ti­ple ver­sions of your­self extend out­ward in the field: younger ver­sions, old­er ver­sions, alter­nate ver­sions. Each ver­sion silent­ly acknowl­edges the lim­it­less­ness of expres­sion of who you feel you are or might wish to become. Each stage of life is irre­place­able and inte­gral to the nar­ra­tive we each cre­ate and live out.

How might we learn to access a field of expe­ri­ence that accounts for the ele­gant com­plex­i­ty of who we are or might become? Rather than live with the belief that chance encoun­ters shape the con­tours of our lives, might there be a way for us to inten­tion­al­ly expe­ri­ence non-dual­i­ty as a means for lever­ag­ing the pow­er of serendip­i­ty? Do coin­ci­dences real­ly occur by chance and con­tin­gency? Or do they reveal a larg­er, poten­tial­ly unknow­able, field of coher­ence? We believe that by pur­su­ing these ques­tions, we might dis­cov­er far-reach­ing answers that guide our jour­ney into unknown futures with grace and the wis­dom of immense experience.

Unify Overcoming Constraints

Unify Attention, Intention, & Action

The cur­rent dig­i­tal space has been built around the assump­tions that atten­tion is a resource to be mined, that there are only so many poten­tial users, and that those users have a finite amount of time to spend on a par­tic­u­lar ser­vice. It’s time to reclaim how our atten­tion is defined and solicited.

Evgeni Savchenko, 2019
Tyler Las­tovich, 2018

The seem­ing­ly unstop­pable march of dig­i­ti­za­tion is exac­er­bat­ing the prob­lem of uni­for­mi­ty. A far cry from the ear­li­er, Wild West days of the Inter­net, the mono­lith­ic tech cor­po­ra­tions now act as gate­keep­ers to vast repos­i­to­ries of infor­ma­tion. The way these com­pa­nies see fit to dis­trib­ute infor­ma­tion through algo­rithms is unavoid­ably linked with what is ben­e­fi­cial for their bot­tom line: user reten­tion, eye­balls on screens, and the accu­mu­la­tion of profit.

The ad-dri­ven mon­e­ti­za­tion struc­ture of the Inter­net cre­ates a sim­ple cause and effect: the more clicks you get, the more mon­ey you make. Hence the rise of click­bait. Click­bait is noth­ing more than a dig­i­tal ver­sion of a prac­tice that’s exist­ed with­in human soci­ety for cen­turies: dis­tort­ing the truth to attract atten­tion. But this orga­ni­za­tion of online con­tent is espe­cial­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to manip­u­la­tion. Shrewd cre­ators rec­og­nize what con­tent receives the most atten­tion and con­fig­ure their aes­thet­ics to appeal to these baser instincts. Pre­dictably, it is, time and time again, the most shock­ing and provoca­tive con­tent that draws in the most views.

There is much talk of the atten­tion econ­o­my. Net­flix CEO Reed Hast­ings iden­ti­fied his company’s users’ need for sleep as his great­est source of com­pe­ti­tion. But atten­tion is much more than a resource to be lever­aged against us. And it does not always need to be a means to an end. How can we redesign dig­i­tal sys­tems to try to reverse this detri­men­tal trend and reestab­lish atten­tion as a shared human value?

Punch Magazine’s por­tray­al of iso­lat­ing tech­nol­o­gy, 1906
Ajeet Mestry, 2017

One answer may lie in explor­ing the con­cept of pres­ence. To be present, men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly, means to feel deep roots with­in your cur­rent moment of con­scious­ness. Pres­ence means being aware of your bod­i­ly sen­sa­tions, being con­nect­ed to what sur­rounds you, and hav­ing the abil­i­ty to per­ceive the world with focus. Ath­letes speak of being “in the zone”, a state of exis­tence where­in time seems to slow down and every com­plex move­ment comes nat­u­ral­ly. Many types of med­i­ta­tion are essen­tial­ly con­cen­trat­ed efforts to feel this height­ened lev­el of mind­ful­ness. Yet, our dig­i­tal sys­tems seem to be man­u­fac­tured to achieve the very oppo­site of pres­ence. They often seem designed to leave us in a state of per­pet­u­al distraction.

The stream of expe­ri­ence pass­ing through our per­cep­tion, sec­ond by sec­ond, is our win­dow to the very nature of being itself. It is all we are and all we will ever know. If we allow our­selves to just be, we can feel time ebb and flow. And this feel­ing can take us down untrod­den paths. Per­haps even excit­ing ones. The con­cept of pres­ence can also allow us to grasp the intan­gi­ble and unquan­tifi­able. It can become a mode not just for analy­sis or con­sump­tion, but for explo­ration. As well, pres­ence is a help­ful way to detach from the unre­lent­ing urge to accom­plish and progress. And it is a strat­e­gy to allow our­selves to have a moment of peace from stress-induc­ing forces. This is absolute­ly vital for our well­be­ing. When we are calm, we are able to access a more pure mode of exis­tence, feel­ing the enthralling blend of all our sens­es as they come togeth­er with­in the full­ness of a moment.

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