Monday, May 05, 2008

The Relative and the Absolute

Another way of looking at the Who and the What you are is recognizing the Relative and Absolute spheres of existence. First, understand, even if it is intellectually based, that they are One thing, but manifesting as the two separate aspects.

Next, let's define them a bit more. (I know that all of this appears to be a mental or intellectual exercise, and yet, it increases the understanding by which you can pass it all up.)


The Relative ....................The Absolute


Who..................................What

Shakti.............................Shiva


Material.............................Spiritual


Left Brain........................Right Brain


Objects.........................Subject


Plurality.......................Singularity


Contraction.......................Expansion


Limited.......................Unlimited


Phenomenal........................Noumenal


Active.............................Passive



And so on and so on. Again, these are only labels for the 'many' and the 'one' within the Infinite Is-ness. But it is helpful to make the distinction.

Like I mentioned in the 'What and the Who of You' there is a tendency to put an over emphasis on one or the other. The vastness of humanity, of course, not only puts their emphasis on the who, but their entire identification is with the who. However, among many spiritual seekers, the emphasis goes in a weird way to the other side – entirely to the 'what' withdrawing completely from the who, or at least attempting to, proclaiming that it is 'all an illusion' or 'maya' etc. While this is true, it is also, in most cases, not recognized, but simply an artificial proclamation of the mind, allowing one to ignore or escape the 'Relative Reality'.

It is very much like the mind/body connection. For years people thought of these as separate items. Over the last several decades, people have become much clearer that there is no dichotomy here – body and mind are but two aspects of the same thing, and each affect the other deeply. I can speak from personal experience here, as any one who knows me knows that for the last 30 or more years, I have greatly neglected and abused the physical aspect as I have explored the spiritual...and am paying the price.

The Relative and the Absolute are, similarly, two aspects of the One Is-ness. Neglecting one or the other (on a long term or permanent basis) means that there will be consequences. Neglecting the Absolute, of course, means that you will always identify with the limited, individualized, localized aspect of you, as subject, to world as object, which will ultimately result in attachment, resistance and suffering to a greater or lesser degree.

On the other hand, identifying with (or rather as) the Absolute, will ultimately burn away the attachments to the localized individual who-ness. Ultimately!!! But in most cases, people want to continue being people! In other words, they don't really want to entirely give up their identification as who-ness and enter into the Absolute aspect. They want to continue to be 'of and in the world'. This is fine, in fact, it is great. But one can't expect the same results as one who goes into the mountain cave or hermitage for 5 or 10 or 20 years of deep meditation and inquiry. You can expect a lessening of resistance and suffering and a deeper recognition, even only glimpses, of What you are. But then you must ALSO realize that the Relative sphere is just that – Relative.

Within the Relative, there IS good and bad. There is hot and cold. There is better and worse. There is more 'spiritual' and 'material'. There is darker and lighter. You get the picture. Often, because of the nature of some degree of intellection or mental understanding of the Absolute, everything within the Relative becomes artificially 'One'. For instance, (my favorite rant) killing animals to eat them by the billions is considered fine because 'it's all relative', even though the increasing number of people wanting to eat meat in China, India and elsewhere (in imitation of the glorious West) is now causing world food shortages and the deaths of thousands through starvation and war. How you treat people is unimportant, because it's all one. Since we are all one and equal, my opinion or understanding is just as good as yours. (So, we're all equally qualified to be brain surgeons, rock stars, spiritual teachers, or artists, whether we actually have the qualifications or not.)

The Relative is called the Relative for a reason – everything within it is relative to everything else. If you don't care if you go left or right at the next corner, or if that thing hanging from the wire is red or green while you're driving, fine. If you can truly BE on that level, great, but you sure as hell shouldn't be driving a car. But if you experience relativity on one level, you probably identify with many levels of relativity, some of which you are currently not recognizing – things you agree with or disagree with for instance, or people you like or don't like, or philosophies you support or abhor. These are all on the Relative platform, and will be affected by your own filters, experience, habits, hopes, fears, etc. So, exploring the relative, particularly your own beliefs and habits within the relative, is infinitely important as you attempt to traverse your way into the Absolute. Dive deeply into the Absolute, but also inquiry into the Relative. Be the What, but don't ignore the Who and the 'Relative Truths' that exist there as well.