Many of the world's great spiritual traditions emphasize what we might call a masculine or vertical view of non-duality. Here, all creatures, forms, images and words are essentially expressions of a transcendent Silence, Spaciousness or Absolute Reality. This kind of masculine union seeks to return all multiplicity to Absolute Oneness by viewing phenomenal or relative reality as transparent, echo-like and at least partly illusory. Some Hindu traditions refer to multiplicity or the realm of the Relative as the lila or "play" of the Absolute. A Wilderness Mysticism adds to this the realization that Silence, Spaciousness or the Absolute continually empty themselves through blissful kenosis back into creature, form, image, and word. Thus we have the Buddhist formula which -paraphrased a bit - states that Form is really Emptiness (or Spaciousness) and Emptiness is really Form. In Christian Mysticism, we have the Silence, or the "Father" continually emptying itself into the Word, or the "Son," and vice versa. The Greek word for this process is "perichoresis," or "the dance around."
However, a more feminine view of non-duality is, we might say, profoundly horizontal in nature. It understands that every creature, form or image is also an expression of every other creature, form and image, in a vast and interconnected web of sacredness. Thus, for example, a person is viewed as a human embodiment of a mountain, and a mountain is seen as a non-personal embodiment of humanity. In some Buddhist traditions, this is called the "Net of Indra," where every creature acts like a jewel tied within one of the knots composing a vast Web of Being - an infinite net in which every jewel mirrors every other jewel. In the Christian tradition, this reality is referred to as a vast "Body of Christ" that is composed of an endless number of organs or appendages, each of which serves every other organ and appendage. In our time, this feminine variety of non-dualism is an especially necessary corrective to the solely masculine version. For it is supremely effective in revealing to us the ways in which every species, personality type, gender, culture, religious tradition and spirituality serves as an integral aspect of the others, all of which together compose the vast and seamless River of Divinity.
In a world that often seems divided, may each of us discover our own unique way of actualizing this feminine, horizontal variety of non-dual Unity :)
Photo: Golden Cottonwood trees, Palisade Mountain and the Big Thompson River, Big Thompson Canyon, CO, November 6, 2015
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I am available for one-on-one sessions giving instruction in Wilderness Insight Meditation, or for spiritual direction / mentoring via phone or Skype. You can contact me at email@example.com if you are interested. The rate is $65 per hour-long session. You might also want to check out my Spiritual Direction with Stephen Hatch Facebook page.
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.