This dilemma has been central for me recently.
Although there may be a realm where “we are all one” and there is no duality, just a big Ommmming Oneness everywhere, when we incarnate as a human on Earth we enter a realm of duality, two-ness.
As this Earth plane is the realm of experience, we come into separate human bodies and there’s me and you, there’s hot and cold (which define each other), there’s on and of—and this duality allows us to have experiences.
There needs to be at least two things to have an experience—the experiencer (me) and the pizza I’m enjoying, or Me and music, or me and you. It’s this separation from a uniform Oneness into individuality that makes living and experiencing all the wonderful and terrible things a human life has to offer possible.
Although we fully invest and identify with this human that we are living through—this guy called Jamie who lives here with his wants and loves and hopes and fears, and all his thinking and thinking—we also retain the part of us that is still in the Oneness realm and that part of us isn’t tied up in the drama of the individual human Jamie. That part is watching the human Jamie ego, but not sucked into all the dramas and pros and cons and daily triggers. That part is the witnessing presence that lives in us too, alongside the busy human part.
So, there’s another form of duality that each of us lives with. We are both the human ego having a dramatic time and a watching, observing presence which simultaneously travels along, hopefully loving not judging, spaciously, un-addicted— and when we listen deeply from that place, much better wisdom and creativity and intimacy and non-manipulative choices are available to us.
This isn’t a blog about how we usually crowd out that observing loving presence with all our loud, controlling thinking and busyness. That’s a given.
My dilemma is about living bravely, yet safely with both those aspects of us.
My ego craves safety. Due to the wounding and traumas of my life so far, I’ve learnt that it is my responsibility to provide a safe and nourishing environment for myself, the human, to thrive in. And this includes not putting myself in situations where I’m constantly in a state of trigger and alarm. I can “work on” my wounds and triggers and aspire to be less reactive and more trusting in Life, but we all carry one or more wounded “inner-children” in us, and to live a thriving, juicy, empowered life, those reactive characters that live in us need some looking after.
As I often say, we are each of us a wise guru in charge of a mental patient. In a changeable world, setting boundaries which are right for us is part of a self-loving lifestyle.
At the same time, the part of us that is just the observing presence, which some people feel is closer to their “Soul” or “Higher Self,” is not interested in safety, and, if anything, is always pushing up against the next limitation, the next edge of our comfort zone, and tends to disregard the human Jamie’s attempts to set up a safe life.
The Soul seems interested in learning, and in dissolving the boundaries that the little ego is setting up so that it can experience what’s on the other side of the boundary and feel itself fully. It’s on a mission for wholeness and that can’t include pushing anything away. This is a fascinating, healing and illuminating journey, though not for the faint hearted (as if we have a choice!).
And there’s my dilemma: How does one responsibly set up a life where the wounds are cared for, the environment is conducive for the human to thrive and not live in perpetual trigger-zones, while at the same time not constantly pushing away the brave Soul’s journey to expand our limited, conditioned notions of safety, which Life is going to inevitably keep bring to us, ignoring our comfort zones and boundaries?
I, the human, want to feel safe in the world because I exist in a limited plane with life and death and I need to be true to my nature.
I, the Soul, want to dissolve all boundaries indiscriminately because I live in a limitless plane and need to be true to my nature.
I, the human, don’t want to hide from my edges but need clear boundaries in this changeable world so that I can navigate this great adventure to its fullest potential.
I, the Soul, am not interested in the human’s idea of what those boundaries are. I claim to see a bigger picture. Trust me.
How do we both honour the human’s needs and priorities while also honouring the Soul’s?
“A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.” ~ Grace Hopper (Rear Admiral, USN)
Author: Jamie Catto
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Hartwig HKD/Flickr
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