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Polarity


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009

1. When I look at all the philosophies and religions of the world I find an emphasis on polarity only in The Way of the Tao and in Headless Seeing. It pops up occasionally in other places. Nicholas of Cusa wrote about the Coincidence of Contraries, which is an elegant and compact way to express it. I haven't read widely in any of the traditions except Headlessness and ancient Chinese traditions, especially Taoism. Maybe someone can point out other traditions that emphasize opposites and polarities.

2. There is such an emphasis on Non-duality in modern spirituality that speaking of polarities is often seen as dualistic. There are numerous teachers of Neo-Advaita (as some call this view) in Europe, America, and Australia. I have read many of these teachers. They all seem to emphasize that this is it. You are already what you are looking for. Obviously this is true in headless seeing too. There is only one presence. Yet headless seeing recognizes a polarity in our awareness of this single presence.

3. The polarity is visible if we care to look. All of the experiments point to polarity. Sometimes Douglas called the whole enterprise Two-Way Seeing. Why isn't that dualistic? Because we take it in all at once! Because there's no separation or boundary between the two! We don't see just undifferentiated sameness or no-thingnes. We see that only as one pole, one side. And we never see that pole alone. It's always accompanied by its polar opposite. Emptiness is always full.

Douglas used to say that what I am at center is not just different from what I thought it was, it's the exact opposite. I used to think that I am what others make me out to be. I was the same as everyone else. I was my human appearance. I ignored the bare awareness of the center.

He also sometimes likened the paper bag in the Tube experiment to a centrifuge, where all the stuff of the world is thrown to the periphery and all the consciousness remains at the center. It's just an analogy. Both are always present. But it shows how seriously he took the two-in-one design of Presence. Obviously, Lao Tzu took it seriously too. He's given us an extended vocabulary of polar opposites. And it's easy to see how these opposites are just what we see in the Tube and out of it.

4. Lao Tzu also mentions other kinds of polarity. Verse 2 mentions some of them. Finding some people beautiful automatically means that I find other people ugly, or at least no so beautiful. That's a completely different kind of polarity. It's not what I'm talking about now, but it does show that Lao Tzu was focused on polarity and opposition, sometimes to show how it unites and sometimes to show how it divides. Here I'm pointing to the polarity (using many labels) that unites. The view of the near side is a view of the same presence as is the view of the far side. It's a two-in-one design, and it's the basis of the Way of Tao and of Headless Seeing.

There is so much to say. I'd better stop for now.

Jim

PS, I'm going to post as many topics as I can think of that I think are common to Seeing and the Tao of Lao Tzu. It you have topics to discuss, you can do the same. Just post them as new topics. I'm hoping there's something in these topics I'm posting that you think is worth discussing


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Tue Jul 07, 2009

Thank you for posting Jim.
I'm back at work now and life's got busy again, so I'm mainly reading.
regards,
Steve


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009

Hi Steve,

I'm glad you're still here.

Today I came across another word pair that I think works really well in stating the relationship between this and that: subject and predicate. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Douglas used this word pair somewhere in his writings. I know he use subject/object in The Science of the 1st Person. But what's the relationship between subject and object? They seem like two separate things. The relationship between subject and predicate is clear. Obviously the predicate is predicated on the subject. The subject proclaims the predicate. That's pretty close to saying the subject is the source--but not quite. To me it sounds more like saying that a complete statement needs both. A complete visual statement consists of both subject and predicate. But the subject proclaims the predicate.

I still have an open question for anyone to answer. Do any traditions beyond Taoism and Headlessness put such an emphasis on this kind of two-in-one design? (I think Gnosticism might be a candidate.)

Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009

hi jim,

very much enjoy your writing. yes, two directions, at once, and the view is made whole.

i don't know any other traditions with the two in one design. mostly what i have found is an image of what god or heaven is, which doesn't leave space for much else.

thats what i find profound in seeing who i really really am. its nothing like what had ever been described. it literally is no-thing. its design is perfect. how else could it be filled with the view out, if it were not itself -emptiness.

jim, thanks for all your insights. love to you.

steve -glad to hear your are better and working again. much love!

janet


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009

Thanks for you answer, Janet. If there are other traditions that talk about this empty/full design, I'd like to know about it. I believe the Gnostic tradition may be another one. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner.....then you will enter [the kingdom]." I don't know how much it's mentioned elsewhere in Gnosticism. Of course, most Gnostic literature was burned in the 4th century by the literalist Church. I don't remember seeing it in Buddhism or Adavita or Zen or Sufism. Maybe someone else has.

Thanks again,
Jim


From: van der spiet tom
Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2009

In the gospel of thomas one of the hidden logia speaks of this 2-in-One design

50. ...If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to them, 'It is motion and rest.'"

this reminds me of a poem on this site:

Swings

Swings are fun,
swings are free,
swings go high,
swings go low,
swings go high,
and never I.

Rosemary, aged 7.
_________________

"That 'I am' is just a translation by the mind of that sense of presence, the awareness of presence or the presence of that awareness."
-Sailor Bob Adamson


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2009

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the quote from Thomas. Motion and rest. That's perfect. I still have Timothy Freke's book The Laughing Jesus. I'll have to read it again. He has a chapter called No Reality Without Polarity. In it he says: "The two poles of a polarity are irreconsilible opposites, yet indivisible one because they can only exist together." In his book Taoist Wisdom he writes: "Although Yin and Yang are irreconsilible opposites, they are also indivisible complementaries. They only exist together." Just the fact that he is interested in the two traditions of Gnosticism and Taoism tells me something. I had some email communication with him a few years back. He told me he had attended a workshop with Douglas and that his ideas owed a lot to Douglas. I shared some verses I had written on the theme, and he liked what they said. I know one of them was this one:

Look in and see the yin.
Look out and see the yang.
Look in and out and see the Tao,
And now you see the whole shebang!

I don't know enough about Gnosticism to say what other similarities it has with Tao and Seeing. I imagine there are others. If you have any ideas on where to look for more on the subject, I'd like to hear them. It would be fun to find more connections.

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009

Hi All,
well, I take a break and now there is lots to catch up on!
As regards other traditions, the Vedic (Upanishads et al) are full of references: perhaps the simplest being a shloka that prefaces (interesting word in headless circles!) many ceremonies - sometimes called the "perfect prayer"
This is perfect,
That is perfect,
perfect comes from perfect,
take perfect from perfect
and the remainder is perfect
(may) peace, and peace, and peace be everywhere
I find this links seamlessly with pointing - but with 2 way pointing there are no seams anyway!
or so it seems to this one...
I'll dig out some more once time allows,
love to all,
simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009

"...with 2 way pointing there are no seams anyway! "

Hi Simon,

I like that comment. No seams anywhere. I can't find any either.

I would like to know more about polarity in Indian traditions. If you discovery any quotations you'd like to pass on, I'd love to read them.
Jim


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2009

Hi Jim, Janet, Simon, Van der spiet tom, All

I post this on a Taoist discussion board
and thought some may enjoy it here too.

Direct Spirituality and Jean-Pierre De Caussade re translated with a Taoist eye.

Just for fun I changed a few words.
It reads like direct spirituality here.

SECTION IX.€The Tao of the Present Moment is the Source.

O, all you who thirst,
learn that you have not far to go to find the fountain of living waters;
it flows quite close to you in the present moment;
therefore hasten to find it.
Why, with the fountain so near, do you tire yourselves with running about
after every little rill?
These only increase your thirst by giving only a few drops,
whereas the source is inexhaustible.
If you desire to think, to write, and to speak like the Sages you must give yourself up, as they did, to the inspirations of The Tao.
O unknown Love! it seems as if Tao wonders were finished and nothing remained but to copy The Sources ancient works, and to quote The Tao Te Chings past discourses!
And no one sees that Tao's inexhaustible activity is a source of new thoughts,
of fresh sufferings and further actions:
of new Sages who have no need to copy the lives and writings of the others,
but only to live in perpetual abandonment to The Sources secret operations.
We hear of nothing on all sides but €the first centuries,€ €the time of the Sages.€
What a strange way of talking!
Is not all time a succession of the effects of the Tao's operation,
working at every instant,
filling, sanctifying, and harmonizing them all?
Has there ever been an ancient method of abandonment to this Source which is now out of season?
Had the Sages of the first ages any other secret than that of being
from moment to moment whatever the Source willed to make them?
And will this power cease to pour forth its glory on the those which abandon themselves to it without reserve.

O Love eternal, adorable, ever fruitful, and ever marvellous!
May the divine operation of The Source be my book, my doctrine, my science.
In it are my thoughts, my words, my actions, and my sufferings. Not by consulting The Sources former works shall I be what Source would have me to be;
but by receiving Tao in everything.
By that ancient road, the only royal road, the road of the Sages shall I be enlightened,
and shall speak as they spoke.
It is thus that I, would imitate them all, quote them all, copy them all.

The original Jean-Pierre De Caussade can be found by clicking on the link there.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/decaussade/abandonment.ii_1.i.ii.ix.html

See Jean-Pierrre De Caussade's
The Joy of Full Surrender- translated by Hal M. Helms with some gems on trust and surrender
but also some 18th century christian stuff I can't recommend.
Some parts just might be of interest to a Taoist. I'm not sure.
Often i change the word God(and Your) to Source
and the word Saints to Sages, as above, when reading De Caussade.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2009

O, all you who thirst,
learn that you have not far to go to find the fountain of living waters;
it flows quite close to you in the present moment;
therefore hasten to find it.
Why, with the fountain so near, do you tire yourselves with running about
after every little rill?
These only increase your thirst by giving only a few drops,
whereas the source is inexhaustible.

This is very beautiful. Christian and Sufi literature is very energetic and enthusiastic. This passage is full of images of nature. "Living waters" reminds me of the water metaphors in the Tao Te Ching. Taoist writings usually seem sober and matter-of-fact to me.

Why, with the fountain so near, do you tire yourselves with running about after every little rill?

Same idea in Lao Tzu:

The path is wide and easy,
But people prefer the sidetracks.

new Sages who have no need to copy the lives and writings of the others,
but only to live in perpetual abandonment to The Sources secret operations.

I can see why Douglas liked De Caussade so much. Thanks for sharing the Taoist translation, Steve.

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009

Hi All,
sorry for the delay, alot of work on!
I accepted a role in a film (playing a Pastor!!) and this does give a whole, new slant on polarity (for me, anyway!)
Having a camera pointed at this clear space is most strange - throws me back to early childhood, having people so attentive to the face they see there, while I see... amid the clear space, the emotions rising and falling, the little fears of not supplying what the role requires and of what everyone expects of the "me" they see before them...
and a huge, quiet but all engulfing love for all in view... that sweeps all fear before it.
So what "should" be a polarity (I find it hard to imagine a more flagrant difference between the space here and the face for the screen) turns out in fact to be a whole, indivisble one that even includes imagination and invention of a persona that is born of other people's needs and desires.
Awe-full, impressive and nothing at all, all at the same time!
How wonderful, the effortless creation emanating from the source, always accompanied by love that dissolves fear and includes - as Douglas put it so neatly - "leaving nothing whatever outside"!
Its almost an experiment that links what I understand by "surrender" in De Caussade (sorry Steve, haven't had time to get into the French!)
Anyway, love to All
simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009

So what "should" be a polarity (I find it hard to imagine a more flagrant difference between the space here and the face for the screen) turns out in fact to be a whole, indivisble one that even includes imagination and invention of a persona that is born of other people's needs and desires.

Nicely put, Simon. I have to see the poles first, then I can consciously see the whole.

I hope you let us know more about how it feels to be a first-person actor. Does it feel like you're 'making faces' for the camera? I imagine it's more like getting lost in the role of the Pastor. I can see how it would be odd to need to present the right face to the camera and director--after so many years of letting the face take care of itself. I'll bet you get some new insights into face and facelessness from the experience. It makes me wonder what effect the job of acting in films has on the actors. I wonder if there are first-person acting techniques.

I hope you have fun with the role,
Jim


From: simon
Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009

Well, Jim, you asked for it !
The director is using a €ken Loach€ approach: we get outlines of the dialogue about 10 minutes to 1 hour before shooting the scene, lots of improvisation, not €acting a role€.
All the scenes we shoot are in disorder, no beginning, middle & final scene, none of us know how the film ends yet!
The pitch is: the story of a young woman (22 years old) who is torn between her sensuality and her spirituality. She is very gifted in both extremes. She comes from a religious family with lots of tensions in it. 2 uncles, both pastors, play a part in her life: 1 is hell-fire & brimstone, damnation etc, and I play the kind, loving one. She is in love with me and dreams of replacing my dear wife who died tragically 5 years ago. I see her as €the beautiful sunset of my love-life€ and have an ambiguous relationship that never arrives at consummation, so to speak.
We are a far cry from pulling faces: it is all emotions and the only way I can play is to €become€ the person. This throws up all the heartbreak and desire that I thought had been cleared out for ages (Ha!) but it throws it up as a role, born of and dependant on the role & situation € which is interesting€ sort of €the un-classifiable€ experiment, but very much based on the desires & emotions of €being in love€.

Everyone seems very happy with the result, but I have been finding it quite hard to come out with some of the things the role requires me to say (a might too €Jesus-based€ for my taste € the truth is so much simpler!) it is like a return into the past, creating a personality by plunging into the €little one€ and €being€ that little one in the most convincing, ie honest and sincere way possible.
One thing that stands out is the fact that we all have everything, every emotion like seeds inside and given the right conditions, the seeds sprout: we are all capable of any/everything€
So the only way I can play is to fall in love with the girl, which isn€t difficult, just dangerous. And the only way I€ve found so far to avoid heartbreak is to let that love enfold everything, not just the person (ality) in front of me, but the whole of human nature, with all its warts, deceptions and idiocies. Which is what love is all about, or so it seems!

If there are any €1st person acting techniques€ I€d love to hear about them!

Without claiming anything special for me, I am convinced that without first hand experience of the first person, this way of acting would be a nightmare: all the usual certainties of €who you are€ are thrown to the wind and I€m not surprised there are tantrums and drug-taking among actors, not to mention rabid egoism, and lots of €sleeping around€ as my mother used to call it!
Identity crisis? Heavens, yes!
But just being or appreciating the space in which all this is taking place is a vast grace!
The camera is just a black box in the room while the maelstrom of the €tragedy of life€ unfolds and enfolds the persons€ as in the experiments, there is no €consciousness€ in the camera, or anywhere else than Here. THANK GOD!
Finally, the €face€ I have for the camera is the whole scene with all the actors € the whole screen so to speak € rather than little old me pretending to be another €little me€. (Doesn€t work 24/24, sometimes the tensions appear in the body and I know the attention has slipped! But this clarity and space is nearer than near, and (t)here for the taking, so to speak. It is a place of refuge from the whirlwind of fear and tension.
I recommend the exercise, if the film is not too silly!
Thanks for the occasion to get this €off my chest€, putting it down on screen clarifies things nicely!
Love to All,
simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009

Thanks for sharing your experience, Simon. You related it beautifully--and with so much detail. I appreciate that. I could feel myself into the situation.

Finally, the €face€ I have for the camera is the whole scene with all the actors € the whole screen so to speak € rather than little old me pretending to be another €little me€.

That approach must help with acting. I wonder if all the good actors use something like this to forget their everyday identity. It must be something like that.

But just being or appreciating the space in which all this is taking place is a vast grace!

Indeed! A grace available to everyone.

I remember seeing Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Do you know how your film will be released? It would be great to see it. The situation sounds very interesting.

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009

Hi Jim,
Thanks for the support!
I have no idea when the film will come out, editing and post production is to start in september. It was supposed to be a 'short' - around 20 minutes, but seeing as how some scenes scheduled to last 4-5 minutes have evolved into 6-7 minutes long and the director doesn't want to edit them, it could well run to 45 -48 minutes long. I'll let you know when it comes out, it'll probably end up on dvd anyway (very small independant company; it's not MGM!)
Sometimes I'm as curious as a kid at Christmas to see the final cut!
I saw the wind that shakes the barley, too. Powerful film! The sensual-spiritual struggle approach is another 'battle' (really is a battle for some people, too!) and this is what interested me ... Yes, polarity again!
I'll let you know when it's finished: you probably have just enough time to learn French, (I suggested we turn an English version at the same time, and the general laughter cleared alot of tensions on the set!)
One thing to add, everyone sees an old man when looking in "my" direction, which was rather unsettling at first. I just couldn't understand why they were behaving like that! I'm not old, dammit! "I" don't even exist!!
But its all part of the play... the love that accompanies Seeing accepts the view that others have, even if it is all rather comic!
love to all,
Simon


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009

Hi Simon

It's interesting to read about your film making experience.
From one ever fresh, awake void to another.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Thu Jul 23, 2009

you probably have just enough time to learn French

Hi Simon,

I'm hoping for subtitles.

You remind me of Douglas saying that the faces out there are not spooked up. I always had some trouble with that one. I knew that there wasn't consciousness behind those faces. It was for them as it was for me. All consciousness, no face. They had no face to be behind. I had their face. I realized after reading you description of you "acting method" that I don't see faces as spooked up any more. They're just faces. That's something that came about without my noticing it coming. The results of seeing sneak up on you.

I see there's no consciousness behind my face. What face? The "trading faces" idea is right on, but it takes time for it to sink in. At least it did for me.

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009

Thank you Steve & Jim, for bringing your light to this situation,
it has been a very curious experience, putting this space on stage in the public view.
as regards the subtitles, "hope springs eternal" as they say, (although with another slant, the saying rings true: Here - the spring or source is eternal...)
Have you any bi-lingual Canadian friends who could translate? Perhaps I'll have time to do some...
As regards the "spooks", this 'movie camera' experiment is very rich, it is intense and will probably throw all sorts of things up - so to speak.
The consciousness 'behind' every face - that belongs to none of them - is a place of rest: and yet each individual creates their 'own' "ten thousand things", their own interpretation on what they see, which is curious...
My friend Paul (Springer) who introduced me to Douglas once said "we create the world by telling ourselves stories" and this has been brilliantly clear during this experience.
All the different views on/of what is taking place during the making of this film - each one being the 'authentic/accurate' reading of events according to the participant... and yet..?
A line from the accoustic version of George Harrison's song 'while my guitar gently weeps' springs to mind: "I watch from the wings at the play you are staging..."
Today is due to be the last day of shooting for me. I will be glad to stop. Constant attention on an 'invented little one', which I sometimes perceive as a sort of pressure is not really to my taste; While having the "attention on me / being the focus of attention" so to speak, is what dominated my early life and seems to be the favourite drug of mankind, it is a tricky situation,
I will be happy to return to invisibility, and just be space for all without having to pretend to have "someone" here - if that make sense to you (!)
As regards
Quote: The results of seeing sneak up on you.
Oh my God, YES! Sneak up "from behind" and pull me down below the bottom line!
And that is the best news of all!
This character, this film has been almost a whole lifetime, it seems...
The other actors are such close 'members of my family' now, it will be strange to leave them - trading 'false' faces creates strong, "real" ties.
Paradox again!!
love to all
Simon


From: Janet
Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009

fun reading!

love to all,
janet


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Jul 24, 2009

While having the "attention on me / being the focus of attention" so to speak, is what dominated my early life and seems to be the favourite drug of mankind, it is a tricky situation. I will be happy to return to invisibility, and just be space for all without having to pretend to have "someone" here - if that make sense to you (!)

It makes perfect sense, though I hadn't thought about it before. It's not fun being under scrutiny. Or else it's too much fun. Either way, it throws us off center. I can see that it creates addictions. One could be shyness. Another could be showing off to be the main attraction.

I will be happy to return to invisibility...

The Tao Te Ching in the first verse talks about the nameless, in other words, anonymity. I think you have seen the value in it, Simon, through your experience with the eye of the camera.

Thanks for sharing it.


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