Moving From Duality to WisdomPhotography By Alan Briskin – San Francisco, California

Moving From Duality to Wisdom

 

 


Moving From Duality To Wisdom

 

 


One of the great conundrums of creative thought is that we must wipe the mind clean of pre-existing categories and assumptions. Yet, how can we do that when our habitual thought patterns are so deeply entrenched? In the physical brain, there is a neuro-cognitive architecture that keeps us confined to certain ways of thinking. In the societal sphere, there are pre-existing cultural patterns and social fields that influence our thoughts and actions. A CEO once described her regional meeting to me as a place “where one could not have an original thought”. The mind seeks to find new solutions but often only re-creates the old patterns in new ways. We must, as Einstein prophetically proposed, find answers from a state of consciousness different from the one in which the problem was created.

It is the movement away from duality that allows us to seek new creative outlets. But how does one do that? I’ve proposed that it is from the wisdom traditions, such as the Kabbalist notion of the triadic mind that we can best move forward.

The first petal of the triadic mind is Binah, a hungering for the logic of a given situation. This analytic way of understanding is the home of anyone who uses logic and quantitative analysis to gather, analyze and build hypotheses based on observable information. But the true power of this mode of thinking is its capacity for coherence, the ability to show how facts hang together.

Yet, along with analysis, something else is needed. The second petal is Chokhmah, or wisdom. Here we have something closer to the power of intuitive insight, flash understandings, even revelations. Chokhmah involves observation, playfulness, flow—the deepening presence of a mind capable of moral considerations. If Binah seeks the logic of how something is put together, Chokhmah asks to what end. What is worthwhile or worth doing?

The third petal of the triadic mind is Da’at or knowledge – a willingness to continually adjust one’s thinking in alignment with new information. However, the Kabbalists took it one step further. They understood the mind as an infinitely elusive chameleon, capable of wonder but also a creature caught in its own web of mental thought. Da’at required something additional.

The secret proposed was reflective consciousness, a disciplined awareness of one’s own thought. The great Kabbalist Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi compared this form of reflective awareness to the brain’s cerebellum, acting as a kind of switchboard for our attention – shifting from pure mental activity to a consciousness capable of observing itself.

To move beyond dualism, one must be capable of slipping the chains of solitary mental activity. To do this requires not only understanding, but also self-knowledge.

 





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