Reflections related to transduality, duality and an integral view.

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Transdual View
Thursday, April 03, 2003  
Absolute & Relative

EarthLast night was the first class in a course on the Gaia theory (geophysiology) at ProtoTista.

A recurrent theme among the participants was the interplay between two perspectives: Seeing the Earth from the perspective of the Universe or the Earth as a whole, and seeing the Earth from the perspective of humans (one current aspect of the Earth). From the perspective of the Universe or the Earth as a whole, any changes are OK - everything is fine as it is. The Earth, as any system, is in continuous change and if current changes means that some species (including humans) goes extinct, that is fine. It will lead to something else and equally valuable as what has been before. On the other hand, changes that leads to suffering and possible extinction of species, especially for humans, are a disaster from a human perspective.

This is of course the interplay between the Absolute and the Relative, one of the central Buddhist teachings. From the perspective of the Absolute, all polarities are embraced, everything is part of a seamless whole, and everything is perfect as is. This is the transdual perspective. From the perspective of the Relative, there is a differentiation and there is much room for improvement. This is the dualistic perspective. Both are true and both offer essential insights.

Experiencing from only the Absolute perspective, we would not be able to differentiate between options and choices. We would be an idiot, although a happy idiot. Experiencing from only the Relative perspective, we think in us/them and either/or terms. We see the poles but not the polarity they are part of. We get caught up in the suffering of a blindly dualistic experience. Bringing in the Absolute gives us a light touch and space. Bringing in the Relative gives us differentiation and involvement.

Both are essential, and our experience of the two perspectives deepen through insights and experience (regular spiritual practice under guidance of an experienced teacher is invaluable.) Complexity theories and Buddhism has much in common, as reflected in the Gaia theory leading us to a glimpse of the interplay of the Absolute and the Relative.

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