Dualism and the Dark Age
Dualism. Dvaita. The bane of good souls and the people generally in the Kali Yuga. “Us vs. Them,” “God vs. the Devil,” and divisions into binary dualisms generally is the great cause of suffering in this Age. The proclivity to create “the Enemy/enemies” else to manufacture a “scapegoat” is the primary problem proffered humanity in this Dark Age.
The Jewish people created a succinct dualism by calling themselves “God's chosen people,” more than implying that the rest of the world was “not-chosen.” In Abraham's apparently complete break with his ancestors' and their religion, and exemplified by the Hebrew people's historic practice of killing every man, woman, child and animal amongst their foes, the Hebrew construction of reality is very much based on an absolute rejection of anyone “not-us.”
Christians seperate themselves from God by their notion of the “sin nature,” and from the rest of the world by the dichotomy of “the saved” vs. “the lost,” this despite the fact that their own scriptures tout that Jesus Himself is recorded as having said that He came to save the Jews, not the Gentiles, not the rest of the world's people. His supposed followers are the ones who decided that Jesus came to save the whole world, AFTER Jesus had parted from their company. Not unrelatedly, it seems many Christians (though not all, mind you) seem to have more faith in the existence of evil and “the Devil” than in the integrity and compassion of God, and in fact thus empower and give license to veritable “evil” and to a great many injustices by their animosity towards the rest of the world/non-Christians and by narrowly prejudiced judgement of any perspective that disagrees with their particular dogma.
The Muslims seperate themselves (and to some slight degree, the “people of the book,” Jews and Christians) from “the infidels,” and from all (including Jews and Christians) who do not accept “the kalima,” the Muslim's all-important confession of faith in Allah and Mohammed. Though the Hebrews eradicated their conquered foes, and the Christians try to “save them,” the early Muslim conquests only attempted to eradicate those who would not convert (other than Jews and Christians) amongst those they conquered. Jewish or Christian cities the Muslims had conquered who would not convert were granted “djimi” status and levied a one percent poll tax and granted self-rule. Regardless, Islam is still based on a succinct dichotomy of “us vs. them,” despite the less succinct separation they place between themselves and the “people of the book.”
The Abrahamic religions are all three too much caught up in the fear or pride based division/delusion of “us vs. them,” and are thus blinded to the beautiful Oneness of God and all that truly Is, to the reality that beyond the illusion of time and space humanity and all beings and Being are Advaita, literally “not-second,” not in truth other than the First, the Eternal, brahman, “God.” All else is illusion and delusion, forgetfulness of our true Nature as Divine. A Sikh saint once said, upon being chastened for pointing the bottom of his feet towards the altar at a temple, “Where might I point the soles of my feet where God is not?”
In this last Age of a cycle of four Ages, the Kali Yuga, The “Dark Age,” our most dumbed-down state, most forgetful of the intrinsic Unity of All with the Divine (one's True Self), a base response to trauma or suffering is to blame someone or something “other,” forgetting that in truth there is no real “other,” and certainly no “Other.” People in this age generally are rather prone to creating quite terrible and nasty enemies for themselves out of whatever “other” is available, and too often in the name of “God.”
The easiest division to make cognitively is a bifurcation, to split things into whatever “this vs. that” or “us vs. them” is at hand, the which is nigh always an error, an error that in most cases leads to much suffering and injustice. In this Age when we're at our stupidest (compared to the last three Ages, so it is said) such easy constructions as a simple binary offers are too often the choice of people when facing conflict, rather than to consider the intricacy and multiplicity of factors involved in any such scenario, process or set of relationships, and the intrinsic connectedness if not unity of all things.
Inclined to think in binaries, most in this Dark Age cannot clearly discern what the Isa Upanishad means by the assertion that “He who sees all beings in his Self, and his Self in all beings, what fear does he have?” At least a base symptom of the malady of the Kali Yuga is the proclivity to blame someone else, to construct an “other” as the enemy or scapegoat or as “the one/ones who need to change,” rather than recognizing the supposed “other” as like you and even another expression of the same Divine Self, another player in the Grand Play of life on Earth on a like pilgrimage through the lila of eternity, and that what one has the certain power and right to change is his or her own self in relation to the Divine that exists both inside and out, and the right to change one's own life practices.
Now mind you, I do recognize that in this presentation of the play of these religious perspectives I am myself thus constructing a division of us vs. them, “them” being the Abrahamic religious discourse as opposed to “us” who can see the delusion of dualism. I suppose I must clarify by noting that as I am refering to these various religious groups I am speaking of the general discourse said groups proffer in general terms, and do not mean to essentialize all practitioners as fitting within those generalities. There are within all peoples and among all groups of religious practitioners some Self-aware individuals, and coversely some Hindus and Buddhists who are prone to such “us vs. them” delusions, despite the very clear precepts of both religions that teach otherwise, that both teach ahimsa and satyagraha and extreme restraint as the generally proper response to conflict with supposed “others” presented us in the midst of this Grand Illusion, the matrix of smoke and mirrors that is maya.
To reify, I do not wish to imply that among the practitioners of the “Abrahamic” faiths there none who are Self-Aware individuals, nor that they should renounce their religions, nor that those religions are in essence “bad” nor “evil.” I only mean that those constructions are prone to dualistic renderings of conflicts and interactions generally, whereas constructions that do not create such stark and arbitrary separations between “us and them,” between “God” and humanity, between Nature and civilization, do indeed prove more harmonious and in concert with what really is. Reality is in fact and by any reasonable scientific purview never truly a binary function of off/on, us/them, self/not self, saved/lost, the faithful/infidels, black/white, nor even of male/female, and such integrous worldviews as do not promote such ignorant dualistic thinking are more prone to fomenting peace and genuine prosperity, both amongst their own and in the world generally.
The complexity and intricacy of reality and Being cannot ever quite be fitted to within the base dichotomy of black and white, save perhaps by tandava. The closest the teachings of sanAtana dharma come to a black/white dichotomy in terms of cosmology is in the Dance, the Tandava, of Shiva and Kali Ma, wherein an Effulgent (though not necessarily “white”) Dude is dancing with The Black Mama, the two always in motion and thus not ever quite merely two, but existentially both Many and One; the Great Mama, Dark like the depths of the Womb, conveying all the Sensuality and Beauty and Potency of Feminine, of The Mother, and the Great Papa, Protector of Souls and Animals and the Source of Light, together in constant Motion conveying Devotion and Passion and Playfulness and indeed, Desire, but never quite presenting merely Two, and never in truth other than One.
Indeed as these various groups, faiths, peoples and lifeways have developed to be such significant factors in this world at this or any time, they are each certainly variously cast to play particular roles in the lila of the Kali Yuga, or to be more specific, the Gauri Yuga of the Kali Yuga, as these are Golden times compared to what awaits as the dualistic, “us vs. them” darkness ensues as the rest of the Dark Age continues after the Golden Age part, according to the teachings of sanAtana dharma. Indeed the Gods are at play, only they are not-not us.
The various religious constructions of this world, indeed all of the variegated arrays of paradigms and peoples, can be seen as strategically deployed to create means of transforming the self-destructive impetuses of this Age of Ignorance, to distribute the cognitive malaise and confusion of reality caused by the dualistically debased state of human cognition in such ways as such dimwittedness might cause the least sorrow and suffering. It is not unlike a board game played with the planet as board, with the Players being Devas and Devis and other orders of beings, and by the ancient accounts of many traditions, extra-terrestrials from various star systems that have been involved in many of the acts and scenes across the Ages and Play cycles played out via humans and their tribes and civilizations, nations and religions and philosophical disputations, at least according to the ancient teachings of sanAtana dharma and many other more recent if still ancient mythologies. And indeed when seen true, the Play and Plays of life on earth is merely a game God/True Self is playing with HerSelf/HimSelf in this Illusion born of Desire. The arrangements and rearrangements of peoples designed to foment peace and find good balance to the diversity of peoples and lifeways can be discerned in the Grand Narrative if one shifts one's focus to include the span of eternity, of forever, and to the entirity and integrity of the show here and now, and not merely one's own or one's own people's seeming separate story, but the whole show and all the nata (actors, players/dancers) integrously dancing towards the perfect bliss and synchronicity that is in truth all that Exists.
One clear example of the above theory, of the Gods engineering the development of human civilization, would be the aforementioned movement of King Bali's Kingdom to across the Pacific at the firm request of Vaman (Dwarf Avatar of Vishnu), who granted the “Underworld” to Bali that Lord Indra could reign unhindered across the Eurasian and African landmasses, i.e., not unlikely to prevent war between the two powerful kings, as well as certainly to fulfill so many subtle intentions of the script of the Grand lila at play in the Gauri Yuga of the Kali Yuga. Traces of Lord Indra's rulership are to be found in the figurations of very analagous gods like Zeus, Thor, Jupiter, Perun, Marduk, etc., and likely various gods in the African pantheons, and traces of Bali's kingdom in Patala well enough evinced by the Saksaywaman Temple, clearly built to honor Deva (God) Vaman (Vishnu's fifth Avatar of Ten), and many other linguistic and cultural clues.
We are the playthings of the Gods and We are the Gods—if forgetful ones, mind you, or at least so it seems to me. And more importantly, we are God. Not our individual selves/jiva/souls/egos else ids, mind you, caught up in karma (action) and desire as nigh all are to whatever degree, but our True Self, the Eternal One that resides in and outside each and every, that resides in everyone's heart, about the size of your thumb, the Upanishads do tout. sat cit Ananda, “righteous mind bliss” as what is Natural and is Nature. “Sin Nature” as what is Natural is a terrible lie, a copout, a crutch to enable or attempt to justify people doing wrongs.
In these dimwitted days of the Kali Yuga, many ifn't most are prone to miss the beautiful complexity and multifaceted nature of what is real, and instead are sadly prone to lump things into stupid binaries and thus to heap sufferings and sorrows upon themselves and others. It's easy to make a scapegoat, but such never truly serves the abiding good of the people.
My wish for the Abrahamic religions, and any crew inclined towards binary stupidity in an Age beset by said malady, is that they become respectfully aware of the many respective roles to be filled in this Age-long play that has scarce begun, and become duly aware that though some of their own presumptions and dogmas are wrong and mistaken, as are some of those of other peoples and religions, all do fit in the Divine Play at hand, and all peoples and their lifeways and religions do contain the seed of righteousness, of the Compassionate and Eternal Divine. Truly, diversity is vital to life lived, and everyone's own place and conditions of birth and the practices of their people do somehow fit into the Grand Play integrously and do provide possible pathways to Divine bliss, as it is with all peoples and good practice and well kept tellings of the ancient and abiding Story and Stories.
Requisite for a well developed play are variously arrayed characters and groups, factions and factors well woven together, preferably in such concert as to compliment rather than to compete or to dealve into suffering-filled conflicts. If one can learn to see the Divine in and through the whole show, and that when seen true, other peoples and their Gods are true too, all Players in a Game that includes all people and peoples and times; if one can accept that the Truly Divine, Compassionate and Great, in whatever variegated forms sometimes certainly maintains Presence(s) by many names and amongst various peoples, and even amongst the fold of your “enemies,” beyond the “us/them,” then, Religion can be true.
Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti
The Truth is One, the Sages speak of it variously.