No More Stinking Thinking

It is not possible to grasp the infinite from a position that is finite. Seems like a good place to start.

“Dual” thinking, as I understand it, is the idea that something has to be “either/or.” That it’s either good or bad. Right or wrong. “Stinking thinking” as I have heard it described.

Here’s another way describing it: the concept of up and down may seem to make sense from an earthly or gravitational perspective, but if you are somewhere out in space, it suddenly make no sense at all. The list of these polar opposites goes on and on, but they all have one thing in common—they are laced with judgement.

And I find myself doing it all the time. Making judgements or assumptions about the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. I become self-righteous and seek to justify why I’m right and they’re wrong. Or to decide on my position, and then only look for those arguments that support it–which then effectively closes my mind off to any other possibility.

If I think in this “either/or” way, is it any wonder that I continue to feel separate and isolated, from myself and others? Why is it that “dual” thinking is so entrenched in how I process things?

This probably sound and feels familiar because our society is based on it. And it’s clearly not working.

How can dual thinking represent “truth” when something can be right for one person, but wrong for another? It is simply a matter of perspective, which no one person can be the judge and jury on. It is a very narrow, arrogant, and un-evolved way of thinking that I know does not serve me.

Richard Rohr, Neil Donald Walsch, and many others look at it a different way—in a “non-dual, unified, both/and” way. Some spiritual practices take this for granted. But it is a very difficult, but critical, concept to grasp and apply.

Is it possible for something to be “both/and?” Is it possible that two seemingly contradictory viewpoints can co-exist? Richard Rohr describes non-dual thinking as “our ability to read reality in a way that is not judgmental, in a way that is not exclusionary of the part that we don’t understand. When you don’t split everything up according to what you like and what you don’t like, you leave the moment open, you let it be what it is in itself, and you let it speak to you. Reality is not totally one, but it is not totally two, either!”

Stay with the dilemma, because truth and wisdom are often found in the paradox.

There is also a wonderful quote by Werner Erhard: “There is something I do not know, the knowing of which could change everything.” I love this quote because it completely shifts my self-imposed parameters and clears the way for something much bigger.

If I can acknowledge that in the grand (and not so grand) scheme of things, I only have limited information, that I know only a fraction of what there is to know, and that there is an infinite amount that I don’t know, it opens up a huge world of possibility…and perhaps, eventually, acceptance.

I know I do not have all the answers, and there are perspectives that I cannot even fathom. I also know that when I remember this in my interactions with people, life is better, more peaceful.

If we as a species can also begin to accept this, it seems to me that more unity and a higher, more evolved consciousness will emerge, and that many of our problems would simply disappear.

One thing I know for sure (or at least as sure as I can be) is that we are not doing ourselves any favours by stinking thinking in this way. I believe that it serves only to deepen our struggle, and further isolates us from each other.

I also suspect that our evolution, and perhaps our collective survival may depend on our ability to shift to a way of thinking that is more inclusive and unified.

14 thoughts on “No More Stinking Thinking

  1. Another awesome post. I am very much enjoying your philosophical journey, and how you so eloquently zero in on key moments of self-awareness. Your last line made me smile – because, of course, there’s no way you can know this for sure. I suspect our collective survival depends on our ability to survive as a collective, nothing more, nothing less. And it probably has less to do with an evolved consciousness than you or I would like.

  2. It is very challenging to even catch myself at times, as you pointed out, the thinking is so engrained. Oh so wonderful an opportunity when I do catch myself and broaden my perspective with and/both and realize that it is only my perspective, and not the only way…

  3. Jonathan,

    Now that I’m back writing, I’m back reading too.

    Loved these last two posts- “Monkey Mind” and “Stinking Thinking”- great title that last one- and just sent both forward into Twitter.

    You’ve got a real rhythm going here. Love it. Keep rolling.


  4. Jonathan, your honesty is always refreshing, and your wisdom is profound. Thank you for sharing this important message with all of us. It’s very helpful. You truly are a blessing.

  5. This is a great post, Jonathan!
    It is a difficult topic to write simply and well, but you managed to do it with seeming ease.

  6. Thanks — it seems to me as well that, if we could just appreciate each other as fellow human beings first and as holders of mental positions or statuses second, interacting with people would become much more harmonious.

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