In a traditional, flourishing relationship between a man and woman, the man applies a central principle to unify his family while the woman supplies the wisdom to keep her family in harmony.
If God represents unity, then the Goddess represents harmony.
More liberally, if the assertive, judging, critical masculine energy demands unity with closure, then the receptive, perceiving, accommodating feminine energy requires harmony through grace.
When the conditions are ripe, this ageless dynamic can play out in anyone of any gender.
Your energy can either be masculine or feminine, depending on what is happening, with whom it is happening, when and where it is happening, how it is happening, and why it is happening.
The main point I aim to make is that harmony is impossible without unity.
By the same token, unity is impossible without harmony.
Neither one can last for long without the other.
Cultivating a Positive Bias
In my recent post, Who You Really Are, I affirmed poetically that love reigns supreme in the eyes of creation. In more practical terms, this means that love is central to everything we know and realize.
Be true, be wise, be free, yes, but realize, too, that love is central to them all.
When you love who you are, what you have, and what you most love to do, it’s no longer much of a stretch to reach out to others with generosity – with charitable giving, caring, and sharing.
Poetically speaking, love is the elixir that allows you to flow in harmony when unity weakens. By the same token, love is the glue that enables you to stand firm when harmony ebbs away.
Practically speaking, the catchphrase “go with the flow” is meaningless without a central, operating principle of unity, while the catchphrase “stay firm” is meaningless with no promise of harmony.
The catchphrase “be positive” is another one of those well-meaning admonitions. As a unifying principle, “be positive” simply cannot endure in the absence of harmony or the potential for harmony.
Likewise, as a principle of harmony, “be positive” cannot sustain itself without a unifying principle.
Rather than admonish someone to “be positive”, encourage them to be open to what is good, to stay open to their experience, to be mindful of what is happening in front of them, on the assumption that the distribution of good and bad events in the world most often favors the good.
Of course, it pays to be realistic here: there’s “the world” and then there’s “your world”.
The distribution of good and bad events in “your world” might not favor the good.
In which case, not only would you do well to stay open to your experience, you would also do well to function with a selective awareness, with an expectant bias towards positive experience.
Before I explore this idea in more detail, let’s get some more focus on the tagline.
Getting Clear About The Tagline
This post is the second in a series of posts that deconstructs the tagline for this site. Here, I will explore and examine the meaning of this part of the tagline: in harmony with who you really are.
Before I proceed, let’s place this phrase into context. The tagline, again, is as follows:
- serving you as your guide
- along your path of personal fulfillment
- in harmony with who you really are
In light of this deconstruction, I would very much like you to be your own authority.
Ultimately, my aim is to lay a foundation for you to serve as my guide, to show me how to treat you, because what better way is there to learn, grow, and evolve than to teach others?
But for now, I will play the role of guide by asking the following questions:
Is my service to you as a guide meant to be in harmony with who you really are? Or is your path of fulfillment meant to be in harmony with who you really are?
The tension created by the ambiguity in my tagline is meant to spark curiosity and interest.
Until, of course, you realize that there’s no real ambiguity.
Knowing this, I’d like to bring your attention to the notion of finding and following a path of personal fulfillment in harmony with who you really are before I address, in my next post, the question of how I might serve as your guide in harmony with who you really are.
A Groundwork of Principles
Finding and following a path of personal fulfillment implies having a structure of some kind – not a structure that confines or constrains you, but a structure that exonerates and liberates you.
Flourishing on your path of personal fulfillment until that moment when you enter a nice, easy flow of continuity in your fulfillment requires that you be a prudent master of your own destiny.
To make any or all of this possible and promising, the finding and the following and the flourishing all require a guiding principle of harmony aligned with a central principle of unity.
You need the discipline to stay loyal to a unifying principle, but you also need certain habits of body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit that keep your principle of harmony aligned with unity.
More than anything, you need to keep your capacity for love alive (you can do this daily, for example, with gratitude, with a sense of wonder, or with the affection you feel for another or others).
Before we go any further, let us realize that unity and harmony is the ultimate duality – more basic than life and death, for as we saw in Who You Really Are, death is a mere transition.
The Play of Dualities
Examples of dualities abound – subjective, objective; feminine, masculine; submissive, aggressive – but which ones are fundamental to the finding, the following, and the flourishing?
I know this much: having a warm and friendly relationship with duality is extremely useful.
When dualities serve to complement each other, harmony arises, but when they start to oppose each other, they become something else altogether: polarities.
Dualities and polarities are contained or expressed as attributes, tendencies, or principles.
As a soul, you contain them, and as a spirit, you express them.
For example, let’s see how this works with a common duality: receptive and assertive.
When you negotiate with someone for something you desire, you would do well to assert your claim in a manner that makes it relatively easy for your partner in negotiation to receive it. On the other hand, you would also do well to receive a claim in a way that makes it easy for you to maintain your claim.
We do this all the time in our relationships, without even being aware that we’re doing it.
Here, you hold one side of this duality with soul even as you express the other with spirit.
With peace in your heart and with presence of mind, respectively, you’re able to contain the promise of your negotiation with soul, even as you express the possibility of resolution with spirit.
As unity and harmony is the ultimate duality, which of our everyday dualities qualify as fundamental and which ones qualify as primary? The fundamental dualities – life and death, order and chaos, pleasure and pain, to name a few – serve to condition and constrain the behavior and conduct of sentient and/or conscious beings in this manifest realm.
The primary dualities are just as interesting because they enable us to contain and express unity and harmony relatively quickly with relative ease by way of the fundamental dualities.
In a negotiation, for example, an orderly presentation of claims from both sides is obviously to the advantage of both sides. A chaotic presentation of claims might be advantageous, but only if order arises out of the chaos. If it does, then you can be sure that a principle of unity is at work.
Which dualities qualify as primary? Let’s take a look at some candidates:
- passive – active
- negative – positive
- receptive – assertive
- responsive – reactive
- resistance – allowance
- submissive – aggressive
- underwhelm – overwhelm
Now, how do we determine which of these dualities are primary and which of these dualities are secondary relative to, and with respect to, the ultimate principles of unity and harmony?
To answer this question, we need to make a few key distinctions.
But first, let us be aware of what I call “the holy trinity of life”: presence, promise, and possibility.
You become a witness to your life when you bring presence to your experience to observe your encounters through the eyes of promise and possibility. You contain the promise of your life with love and you express this promise with a sense of possibility when you exercise your will freely.
‘Freely’ ideally means ‘joyously and blissfully’. If you have no joy in your life and if you never feel like you’re following your bliss, then you’re simply not free. You’re a mere servant to your circumstances.
Your ultimate task in life is to be responsible for your experience of reality: to be present to your experience, to realize your capacity for love through peace, to follow your bliss through joy, to fulfill the promise of your life with a sense of possibility until at last you reach the pinnacle of your fulfillment.
Of course, if you’re facing the tallest mountain in the world with the intention of climbing to the top, it would help you to know that you’re up to the task of scaling the mountain to reach the summit.
This is where guidance comes into play.
Two Fundamental Statements
Before we can even explore and examine the nature of duality in the light of presence, promise, and possibility, we need a principled platform upon which to stand and build.
I already mentioned that I’m a witness to my life when I bring presence to my experience to observe my encounters through the eyes of promise and possibility. I also indicated that my ultimate task in life is to be responsible for my experience of reality when I find and follow a path of fulfillment that enables me to flourish, and eventually, to realize the promise of my life with a sense of possibility.
Let’s resolve this chunkiness into two key pillars:
- When I bring presence to my experience of reality to observe my encounters in life through the eyes of promise and possibility, then I am a witness to my life
- When I find and follow a path of fulfillment that enables me to flourish, and eventually realize the promise of my life with a sense of possibility, then I am responsible for my experience of reality
To be present to your experience of reality. To be responsible for your experience of reality.
Can you do both?
Let’s say you’re an ambitious, career-driven professional who feels utterly compelled to do everything yesterday. You end up creating a to-do list with over a hundred items on it.
You begin to feel overwhelmed by it all. You feel like you’re losing control.
You’re present to your experience of reality enough to realize that you need to do something to bring yourself back into balance: to restore a sense of control and a sense of flow with your experience.
What you need more than anything is a principle of unity and a principle of harmony: a principle of unity that restores your sense of control and a principle of harmony that restores your sense of flow.
Your purpose, whatever that might be, will serve as your principle of unity to stay in control, and your structure, whatever that might be, will serve as your principle of harmony to stay with the flow: to remain present to your experience of reality and to remain responsible for your experience of reality.
To use a rather prosaic example, your purpose might be to reduce the number of outstanding emails by 25 or 50 or 100 every day until completion. Your structure might be “four labelled folders that would have me prioritize action based on the urgency and importance of each email message”.
Your purpose unifies the course of your action and your structure determines your behavior. So even before you reduce your emails, the first thing you do is set up four folders and label each one in terms of urgency (U) and importance (I): U and I … U but not I … I but not U … neither U nor I.
Presence, through purpose, unifies your course of action, bringing you a sense of control.
Responsibility, through structure, determines your behavior, restoring your sense of flow.
But where does duality come into play here?
Let’s return to the example of having over a hundred items on your to-do list.
You feel overwhelmed by everything you feel you need to do.
Inevitably, you’re also going to feel underwhelmed by those things that take up your time which you sense have little or no urgency and importance for you.
You keep getting caught between overwhelm and underwhelm more often than you would like, and the more intense your feelings of overwhelm, the more intense your feelings of underwhelm.
It’s a classic polarity – a duality whose complements have become opposites, creating an unbearable, intolerable tension that undermines your focus, your concentration, and your recall.
All dualities, by their nature, contain complements, but when you lose sight of your presence and your purpose, or when you lose sight of the structure required to realize your purpose, those complements become opposites, creating tension that adversely affects your performance.
Some tension is good. It’s keeps you on your toes. Too much tension? Not so good. Too much tension indicates too little control and too much tension indicates too little flow.
Remember: unity and harmony – the ultimate duality.
Now, let’s take a look at your resistance to pausing long enough to examine what’s going on in your experience. The other side of resistance is allowance. Yet another duality.
In your experience, do resistance and allowance complement each other?
Or do they oppose each other to such a degree that they adversely affect your capacity for presence, and therefore your sense of control? Do they oppose each other to such an extent that they adversely affect your ability to respond effectively and efficiently, undermining your sense of flow?
In light of these questions, can I be present to my experience and still be responsible? Or must I actually do something to be responsible for my experience?
Which of the following statements resonates best with you?
- I am a Witness to my experience. Period.
- I am a Witness to my experience with a Will to be responsible for my experience.
- I cannot be a Witness to my experience; I can only exercise the Will to be responsible for my experience.
- I can neither be a Witness to my experience nor can I exercise the Will to be responsible for my experience.
Which of these statements resonates best with you?
Dualities, Primary and Secondary
My personal preference is always to resonate with statement 2. I say this because I know from my own experience that statements 1, 3, and 4 also have their time and place. Having said this, I also know that statement 2 is a statement of balance which best serves my interests over the long-term.
Now, let’s revisit the question of primary dualities in light of statement 2, as follows: I am a Witness to my experience with a Will to be responsible for my experience.
Here again, for ease of reference, are the candidates:
- passive – active
- negative – positive
- receptive – assertive
- responsive – reactive
- resistance – allowance
- submissive – aggressive
- underwhelm – overwhelm
We’ve already touched on a couple of these dualities, but what about the others? Could it be that some are more primary than others? That is to say, could it be that some of them are mere effects?
So, for example, if I get a handle on the first four dualities in this list, could the remaining three dualities in this list take care of themselves naturally, without any effort on my part?
Or is it the other way around?
Let us revisit the trinity of life – presence, promise, possibility – and consider these in light of statement 2: I am a Witness to my experience with a Will to be responsible for my experience.
The Witness, when it’s present to its experience is, by its nature, passive. When I am passively present to my experience of reality, I am a Witness to my experience of reality.
The Will, on the other hand, is active by nature. A decision to be present to my experience of reality requires an act of Will. Decisions to cultivate presence through practice also require acts of Will.
When I am passively present to feelings of overwhelm or underwhelm, or to feelings of resistance or allowance, I am obviously in a favorable position to actively regulate them as I see fit.
The duality passive – active, therefore, is more basic than these two other dualities with respect to the Witness and the Will. Although I haven’t yet done so, I imagine that the same logic can be applied to the other dualities, so as to sort them according to whether they’re primary or secondary.
To reiterate, the primary dualities are interesting because they enable us to contain and express unity and harmony relatively quickly and with relative ease by way of the fundamental dualities.
At this point, my thinking runs as follows:
The bio-psycho-socio-cultural-spiritual energies generated by the fundamental dualities (order and chaos, for example) fuel the less fundamental dualities, but if we cannot control the less fundamental dualities, we fall into a condition described by statement 4 above: I can neither be a Witness to my experience nor can I exercise the Will to be responsible for my experience.
Thankfully, there’s a way to get a handle on all of these dualities.
The Fundamental Structures
As of this writing, I’ve identified five basic structures that can help us to get a handle on our behavior and conduct with respect to the ultimate, fundamental, primary, and secondary dualities.
They are as follows:
- the holy cross
- the symbol of tao
- the solar metaphor
- the upward spiral
- the power pyramid
As a quick aside, please understand that I have no formal affiliation with any organization associated with these structures or symbols. I am, at present, independent – culturally and spiritually.
In the context in which I wish to use it, the holy cross represents the most basic structure. The symbol of the tao can be placed in the centre of the cross, where the vertical and horizontal beams meet.
The tao contains and expresses, by way of the soul and spirit, all dualities. The solar metaphor is a derivative expression of the tao and carries the holy trinity of life – presence, promise, possibility.
The solar metaphor, characterized by five concentric circles that contain presence (at the core), peace (around the core), promise (by finding your peace through presence), love (a culmination of presence, peace, and promise), and purpose (by finding what you most love to do), as well as a corona, which represents possibility and passion, rises on the tip of an upward spiral inside a power pyramid defined by three tiered levels of imperative for living up to your potential: survive, strive, and thrive.
The upward spiral represents positivity and the pyramid represents stability.
Your path of fulfillment is to be found and followed on a spiral inside a pyramid, and your vision of fulfillment flourishes with a solar metaphor derived from the cross and the tao.
The Soul and Spirit of Who You Really Are
Now that we’ve covered the dualities and the structures, if only in a cursory way (this is a blog post, after all, not a treatise), let us now consider the two most basic principles in existence.
We would do well to understand, appreciate and realize that the first most basic principle in existence, the principle of unity, is sacred, and can be expressed as follows: purpose unifies destiny.
Let us also understand, appreciate, and realize that the second most basic principle in existence, the principle of harmony, is divine, and can be expressed as follows: structure determines behavior.
If you’re true to yourself (and I have a feeling you are if you’ve made it this far), you’ll exercise your presence to align your vision of fulfillment with the first principle, the principle of unity, contained and expressed by your version of the solar metaphor conditioned by the cross and the tao.
If you’re wise with yourself (and I think that you are if you persist in knowing more), you’ll exercise your will to align your path of fulfillment with the second principle, the principle of harmony, contained and expressed by your version of the upward spiral of positivity inside the power pyramid.
Finding and following and flourishing on a path of personal fulfillment in harmony with who you really are is simply a matter of negotiating, navigating, and transcending duality and polarity to bring out the promise of your soul and the possibilities of your spirit into the light of truth and wisdom.
Of loving your path in the light of your vision with sacred truth and divine wisdom.
Religion? Sacred truth. Spirituality? Divine wisdom.
Unity and Harmony.