Erik Parens’ article, The Benefits of ‘Binocularity, which I found on The Browser, prompted me to continue my previous discussion of duality.
I’m reviewing Parens’ article to show that serious thinkers recognize dualism even though some do not use the term. As a student of the Course I believe that we need to identify dualism because it permeates our separated existence from God. Noticing and accepting duality as being ever present in our illusory world will help us to clarify and cope with it. Parens offers an insight into dualism (he doesn’t call it that), and a way to deal with it.
First he introduces the long-time debate about free will. To begin to understand Course thought about free will, here is the first of only two passages in ACIM in which free will is mentioned.
There is no one who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way. If this is the result of his own free will he must regard his will as not free, or the circular reasoning in this position would be quite apparent. Free will must lead to freedom. Judgment always imprisons because it separates segments of reality by the unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one in his right mind believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed. Instead of “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven” say, “[Will] ye first the Kingdom of Heaven,” and you have said, “I know what I am and I accept my own inheritance.” [T-3.VI.11]
ACIM study reveals that our free will involves one simple choice. Choose God in Heaven – or the ego in our insane world where we confront never ending discussions of free will.
If we have free will we are subjects acting as we choose and therefore open to praise or blame. If we don’t have free will we are not responsible for our actions. We either act as subjects, or are acted on as objects. Parens then draws on British Philosopher Glover’s metaphor, “Binocularity.” Glover thinks that we need to view our life here through two lenses; one to examine ourselves as subjects and the other as objects. (For me, that’s dualism)
Parens maintains that we cannot do both at once so we choose “monocularity.” That way we see life through one or the other lens. As an example he discusses Francis Crick’s 1994 book, The Astonishing Hypothesis.* Parens tells how Crick ruminated about Christianity’s theology of the soul and body, and took the position that the body is real; the soul is an illusion. The Course teaches the opposite. The body is an illusion. Spirit is real.*
Parens suggests that we “aren’t wired for seeing ourselves in both ways at once.” We might be better off if we could see ourselves as either subjects or objects, “but our understanding would be shallower.” He suggests we interchange the lenses. ”Neuroscience can help us grind one of those lenses, but it can’t obviate the need for the other.” In this was he recognizes dualism and offers a way to deal with it.
As with any discussion here in the separation, it’s complicated.
Complication is the joy of the ego, because it obscures our true reality. According to ACIM that reality is – We are still at home with God in Heaven. When we consider free will that is a comforting thought on which to focus.
In June of 1994 I attended the workshop, The Course in Miracles as a Radical Theology. at the Foundation for a Course in Miracles, then in the hills above Roscoe NY. Ken Wapnick contrasted the Course with Monotheism, Polytheism, and Pantheism. They are all dualistic because they hold that God creates outside itself. We have God, and his creations – subject and object.
ACIM is non-dualistic. Consider this passage.
Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. [Workbook, Lesson 159, pgh.5. 1-4.]
Dualism guarantees contradictions in the muddied waters of our separated existence.
From the Course’s perspective Crick got it backwards. Our bodies are illusions. God is real. “There is nothing else.”
(See Text Chapter 3 paragraph 7)
* Crick, along with James Watson, first correctly illustrated the structure of DNA. Sadly, they borrowed the idea that led them to their conclusion from Rosalind Franklin. Later she was included in awards posthumously.
* In the Course the word soul is avoided. “Spirit” is preferred because it has less intellectual “baggage” attached to it.