Recently, I have been listening to a lot of Richard Rohr, a Franciscan Monk who resides in New Mexico. One of the things that he talks about is the fact that Non-dualistic thinking is the height of spirituality. What he means by this is that Non-Dualism breaks down this idea of a scapegoat mechanism. So first, I am going to explain his point, and then, I’m going to take it in a completely deeper direction, which hits at the very core of human history, so let’s get started shall we? Buckle up, it may be a bumpy ride.
(Note: If you want to hear more about this, then you can listen to Rob Bell’s Podcast titled, Alternative Orthodoxy with Richard Rohr. It’s the best hour and a half I have ever spent!)
So, Richard Rohr would argue that the scape goat mechanism is that which helps groups to bond together because they know who their enemy is. In other words, they Scapegoat mechanism is the glue that holds sports fans together, take for instance, the Super Bowl a couple weeks ago. Even though there are many in the world who are not necessarily Atlanta Falcons fans, many bonded together by making the New England Patriots the scapegoat. They cheated, therefore, we are against them, which resulted in a good portion of people who were left disheartened after the Patriot’s historic comeback victory. What the scapegoat mechanism is doing is creating duality. Us vs. Them. They are bad, we are good. We use violence righteously, and they use violence corruptly. We are right, they are wrong. There is an in group and an out group. A “we” and an “other” group. This is where war, racism, corruption, social injustice, and many other world issues stem from.
Richard Rohr would then argue that non-dualistic thinking breaks down the scapegoat mechanism, breaks down this simple dualistic viewing of the world of Us vs. Them, and instead puts us straight into the heart of the trinity. The Trinity is not dualistic. The Trinity is not us vs. them. The Trinity is not separate. Instead, the Trinity is the perfect image of never ending outflowing of humility, service, and love. Jesus exemplified this through his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus talked with both the “haves” and “Have-Nots”. Jesus loved both groups. Jesus taught both groups. Jesus had no inclination that there should be walls built around each group. Why do you think he was so harsh with the Pharisees? They were the ones building these proverbial walls in the first place. They were the in crowd who were telling the out crowd that they could not come in. You see, Jesus was part of the in crowd. He was a jewish rabbi, much like many of the Pharisees, and yet, instead of perpetuating their rules, he broke them utterly apart. When he died on the cross, he was showing that God is not about conquering others and labeling others as bad. Instead, he said “Forgive them. They know not what they do.” In a sense, God, as he was dying upon the tree, was offering them continual, never ending, outflowing grace and love. When Jesus rose again, he appeared to many. He appeared to disciples, prostitutes, jews, gentiles, and many others. Jesus did not only appear to a few. Jesus does not only hold sway in the lives of rich white males. Jesus is for everyone. Jesus desires everyone. Jesus desires to break apart dualistic thinking.
Now, where it gets interesting, I think that Richard Rohr’s argument is in fact correct. Not only that, it is something that stems to the very beginning of Christian and jewish history as we know it; back in the garden of Eden. You see, God created mankind to be one with creation and with God. Humanity was created to have no boundaries between the divine and physical realms. There was, in a sense, a trinitarian flow back and forth. There were no boundaries between God and humanity. However, along came a serpent, who introduces the idea of dualistic thinking. To know between right and wrong is to say that there is a right and a wrong. There are 2 sides to the coin. Even back in the very beginning, part of sin is dualistic in nature, and it carries on throughout history. There is the Israelite view of us vs. them in regards to the Philistines. There is an us vs. them mentality between the north and the south once the kingdom breaks. There is an us vs. them mentality against the prophets. There is an us vs. them mentality in the Roman empire. Dualism, in my opinion, is the heart of destructive forces in the world. If sin is that which is destructive to both myself, to others, and the world around me, then really, at the heart of sin, is dualism. The scapegoat mechanism of us vs. them
Even today, many of the world’s problems stem from a mentality that looks out for the group. That group could be tribal, or a business, or a team, or even an individual in terms of western society today. There is a lack of harmony between humans and humans. There is a lack of harmony between humanity and the earth, and there is a lack of harmony between humanity and the divine. It has become increasingly a “dog eat dog world”. This is what dualism becomes. War, corruption…destruction. Non-dualism seeks to break through boundaries. Non-dualism seeks not to focus on where others are different, but rather focuses on where we are similar. That is what it means to be a member of the body of Christ. In a sense, every single human is our brother and sister. We are called to love everyone. There are times when we don’t like particular things about our bodies. I can say honestly that sometimes I wish that I didn’t process things the way I do. There are sometimes I wish my anger wouldn’t get the better of me. There are times when I wish my fingers were better at playing the guitar, and yet, these things are still a part of my body. In the same vein, there are going to be times when you really wish that you weren’t paired with the southern baptist down the road, or the Left wing democrat in your church leadership group, but the fact is, whether you like them all the time or not, they are part of your body and there is no getting rid of them without causing great destruction and hurt. Imagine trying to cut your own hand off? Not a pleasant picture right? Why then do we think that we can just ignore or bash or destroy the other side when they are part of our own body? Non-dualism is that exact idea that we are all connected with each other, we are all connected to the earth (an ancient idea that begins with Adam being created from the dirt, NOT some hippy dippy mantra that began in the 60’s) and it seeks to connect us back into the trinitarian flow of the divine, joining the continual, never ceasing, outflowing of love, mercy, and service. Dualism corrupts, Non-dualism frees.
So go my friends, be free of the scapegoat mechanism. Be free of dualistic thinking. Talk with people that are different than you. Break down walls that have been built for centuries, some of it even by your own hands. Seek to connect yourself to the body of Christ. Remember that “Everything Belongs” as Rohr would say. Seek to love, to serve, and to forgive, instead of hate and destroy. Seek the Trinitarian flow.
This is a personal blog and does not necessarily represent the views of Community Church or any groups mentioned here