No Such Thing as Source?
Let me start this article by saying that I am admittedly someone who likes to push the buttons of commonly held new age beliefs and dogmas, and this feature of my personality is probably as pathological as anything I ever take the time to call out or pick on. Nonetheless, if I had to describe my spiritual path in this lifetime I would say it has been that of the mental and intellectual exploration of the opposites. I read everything I can of world religions and philosophy, astrology and metaphysics, and I take time to see both the similarities and the differences in various metaphysical systems of thought. I also try to see these similarities and differences in myself and in my everyday life.
For the past few years I've resisted the common urge to reduce all world religions to oneness, and I'm instead interested to understand the very real differences between metaphysical dispositions. I have found that by doing this I am resisting the urge to get trapped by my fiery protestant, Christian upbringing, and instead I am opening myself to truly consider many different ideas about God, the Universe, evolution, the soul, etc. After all, it's just so easy to make everything about oneness, package it like a sticker with all the religious icons spread out in a circle like a 1970's smiley face, slap a few posts about unity and wholeness on my facebook wall, and get nice and comfortable in yet another version of the same old evangelical tunnel vision to save the world. In the New Age Jesus is just called "oneness," sin is now called "separation consciousness," and salvation is called "awakening to the source."
In recent weeks I've come to something like a working hypothesis about the Sun and the Moon in astrology that has helped me to understand the two major spiritual/metaphysical types of dispositions that I've come across both in my reading of other popular astrologers and thinkers in the metaphysical fields and in terms of the major ways in which spiritual people end up polarized within their own practices of spirituality.
The Solar Spiritual Philosophy
From the solar point of view, spiritual life is about linear evolution. We originate from a non-dual source energy or singularity point. Some people go so far as to say that the source energy point is God (and God doesn't have to be an old Man in the sky; God can be a more evolved singularity or source point). This view closely relies on (and popularly explicates) the Big Bang and expansion theory of the universe, where the Universe began with a kind of non-dual singularity point (which defies the laws of physics) and explodes outwards. As the universe appears, duality appears. Duality, as source theorists explain to us, is the manifestation of seemingly separate systems, bodies, and time and space itself, all of which have their essence in the creation/explosion of an original, perhaps non-dual "source."
From this point of view, duality has its origin in non-duality. This is of course logically problematic. How can we say that non duality is the "source" when the very concept of "source" implies the notion of something extending from the source? Non-dual enthusiasts will tell you that you have to let go of the logical mind and embrace paradox in order to grasp their thinking about source. Similarly, scientists will tell you that the singularity point cannot yet be explained by the laws of physics.
Should we really put our "faith" in a non-dual source that we can't quite talk about in a logically cohesive way? And why do we keep trying to do so anyway?
A case in point is the hyper solipsistic New Age tome "A Course in Miracles." Insisting that God or the true, non-dualistic self is the only truth, the book, which claims to be the channeled voice of Jesus, struggles on for hundreds of pages, like Plato on a bad acid and cocaine rant, trying to say that there is only one truth, one reality, one higher self, and that we should do away with all dualistic ideas of selfhood. The course does this, of course, while always simultaneously doubling back to say that these non-truth dualism delusions are also the truth. By the time I had finished the book, which I read in earnest, and even performed all 365 of the exercises, my largest question for the transmitted text was, "so how does it feel to have the world's largest case of linear thinking denial?"
Joseph Campbell aptly summarizes the masculine or patriarchal solar philosophy in his Masks of God series, "The Patriarchal point of view is distinguished from the earlier [lunar] archaic view by its setting apart of all pairs-of-opposites--male and female, life and death, true and false, good and evil--as though they were absolutes in themselves and not merely aspects of the larger entity of life. This we may liken to a solar, as opposed to lunar, mythic view, since darkness flees from the sun as its opposite, but in the moon dark and light interact in one sphere."
Similarly in many evolutionary astrological communities, the highest levels of consciousness are imaged as those closer to the Sun, which is likened to the "non-dual" source. Of course these non-dual points of view mostly come from men, and they are, like a Course in Miracles, solipsistic and unavoidably dualistic in their logic. The word "highest" or "higher" is a word of dualism. The very words "non-dual" and "source" are both, at their worst, frustrated manifestations of the very same religiously fueled illogical impulses that led the male church fathers to condemn sin, condemn the body, and condemn women. They are the very same impulses that will always insist upon the linear evolution toward something non-dual, which is also claimed to be the only reality, which we came from, anyway. This extreme solar thinking, in all its illogical fumbling, makes a case for both the superiority and total dominance of an essence (the singular solar energy) that is always, no matter how illogically or paradoxically it tries to fight or establish itself as the sole reality, entangled with something else or something other.
At its best, the solar philosophy gives us real linear growth experiences, and it reminds us that forms have essence, both of which are real assets and undeniable gifts of the spiritual journey. At its worst, the solar paradigm forgets its dependency upon, and rages against, the lunar paradigm, insisting it isn't real.
The Lunar Philosophy
In contrast to the Solar point of view, Joseph Campbell writes of the lunar point of view, "The wonderful ability of the serpent to slough its skin and so renew its youth has earned for it throughout the world the character of the master of the mystery of rebirth--of which the moon, waxing and waning, sloughing its shadow and again waxing, is the celestial sign."
From the lunar point of view there is no such thing as source energy without the simultaneous existence of life forms in an through which the life force can be incarnated, reflected, and circulated. To the lunar, the source does not come first or beget duality, because to the lunar there was never a beginning and there will never be an end to the dance of the opposites.
There is no oneness without duality from the lunar point of view. There is no essence without form. The lunar view point is therefore, generally speaking, more readily in touch with the presence of the Sun, or source, as its equal opposite. The solar point of view tends to see itself as absolute, as all that there is, as the point from which everything generates and returns, and yet it cannot divorce itself from its oppositional, relationship to the imminent lunar.
In terms of a spiritual philosophy, the lunar point of view is quieter about any transcendent mission. The lunar philosophy is about imminence. This is it. There is no evolution toward something. There is no awakening. There is no grand design that we're heading toward. There is no source/god. There is no problem of evil or free will. There is only the infinity of time and space and the flowing dance of the opposites. Progress and growth and evolution toward the non-dual are to the Lunar as transient as the breath in and the breath out.
To understand the lunar philosophy in terms of a popular theoretical physics standpoint we might invoke the recent Cyclic universe theory of Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok. Imagine two infinite membranes and imagine space between them. They have been and always will be colliding with each other. Each time they collide the membranes create big/bangs or universes on their surfaces. The universes expand and then contract and then the membranes collide again and the process repeats. There is infinite time and space. Infinite duality (meaning the presence of the opposites as real but interconnected is infinite and without origin). Singularity, from this point of view, is just an illusion of a never ending process in time and space. The source is not an origin point, and it's not a return point, it's just one aspect of an endless dualistic fluctuating.
Of course the view is no less spiritual and no less capable of imagining or experiencing what we might call divinity; it's just that we don't need to imagine "source" as beyond or behind the dualistic "illusion" that we're trying to "evolve through" right now. And we don't have to fight endlessly against our common sense trying to imagine oneness without using contradictory dualistic logic. From this point of view all of the "source" conceptualizing of the universe that we do is merely like one half of the brain, the half that works with linear understandings, gently and occasionally colliding with the other half of the brain (the one that understands the flow of the opposites) to create another new process that doesn't have beginnings or endings.
Utopian Thinking and the New Age
Many new age thinkers want to transcend the ego. But from the lunar point of view the ego is also just the presence of divine imminence. There is no need to transcend it. In a similarly illogical move, non-dual proponents will tell people that the "ego thinks it's the center of the world, absolutely separate and distinct, in no way involved with the world 'out there. It will do everything it can to maintain its illusion of sovereignty and avoid the oneness of all things.'" The irony of this point of view is that the ego is cast as a separate part of the psyche or selfhood, and it is done so from a position that doesn't believe in such distinctions to begin with. This is like saying that the ego is a real illusion. It's nonsensical. Non dual thinkers will also tell you that we each have an internal observer, and that that observer is what's real. This, again, is just another way of valuing the objective, dissociative faculty of the mind over and above the subjective sense of "I." Both are real and dependent upon each other.
From the lunar point of view transcendence is just one part of the dialog, and from the solar point of view there is nothing but the solar. The two, it seems, remain in their distinctness and yet relate and cooperate with one another seamlessly. The easiest example is to think of the pattern of each day. We rise and focus on our work or sense of destiny, like the Sun, and in the evening we rest, play, participate, and share in a non-goal oriented sphere. Some of us do this anyway!
None of this means that we don't live with a sense of self that sometimes forgets the interconnection we all share in, that sometimes has to wake up to something transcendent, and none of this means that linear evolution isn't an aspect of our spiritual reality. What it does mean is that we should try to imagine no source, no origin, no awakening, and no return, perhaps as often as we offer any spiritual answers based on this kind of thinking.
Here are 5 Ways to Spot the Infiltration of Extreme Solar Thinking
1. To imagine that the main project of human life is to awaken from separation consciousness (this is the same view as original sin).
2. To imagine that the ego is an undesirable thing related to separation consciousness (let's not forget that the transcendent oneness drive or the awakening drive in us can be just as separate and deluded).
3. In astrology: to see the presence of this incarnation as a result of unresolved separation desires, to view incarnation as a result of desire, or to view the south node of the moon as a karmic past you are trying to evolve away from, as you move toward the north node.
As the nodes of the moon represent the intersection points between the Sun, Moon, and Earth (the points where eclipses are created), we can just as readily see the south node and north node as a balancing between the solar and lunar properties, like the breath in and the breath out. We don't need to see the Moon as the "separation jailed" Ego and the Sun as the non-dual enlightened destiny, and we don't have to keep creating linear evolutionary stories about awakening to higher self when we interpret the birth chart. We also don't need to imagine source and returning to source. Those concepts are sometimes simply meaningless religion.
4. To talk about the battle for love and oneness or any kind of holy war we are waging toward a higher vibration. To stare down non-love with love.
5. To talk about having to work hard toward something on your spiritual path. To talk about the need to purge, clean, or continually heal yourself from negativities, astral attachments, lower or crossed energies, etc.
Let's make clear the useful aspects to the things we've mentioned
1. Awakening to larger, shared realities and essences is a wonderful part of life. Evolution and linear growth are also great parts of life, and it will be great if we all grow and evolve toward something more peaceful and kinder, etc. On the other hand sometimes awakening is nonsense.
2. Thinking we are the center of the world is of course silly. We each have done this. But to make the struggle with the ego the center of the world is also silly.
3. To see real growth work in the birth chart is good, to see the "awakening" potentials in the birth chart is good, but it's not the only way to do astrology. We can also use the birth chart to describe the perfection of what's already here. There is not always a need for evolutionary levels. The concept is void of meaning half of the time!
4. Sometimes spirituality is about psychic warfare and holy war, but just as often it's not.
5. Sometimes spirituality is hard work, and cleaning and purging from negativities is very real, and sometimes it's not at all.
In Conclusion--Toward a Solar/Lunar/Earth Balance
In my opinion (which, like I said from the start, tends to change all the time), those of us who consider ourselves "spiritual" people are learning to carry the solar/lunar paradigms equally. We're all learning that reality is absolutely-relative. Mostly we have no idea how that works exactly, or why, or where it's heading if anywhere at all. Suffice it to say there have been just as many holy people saying there are no answers, there is no source, there is nothing to return to, as there have been spiritual masters who say we're all emanations of god, going out into the many, only to return to the one. The two ways of conceptualizing reality are dependent upon one another it would seem, as dependent as two hearts, or like Steinhardt and Turoc's two membranes perhaps, beating together as one or colliding endlessly in time and space in order to create universes upon universes.
For the past few thousand years we've been solarizing our consciousness. It's provided us with a great story of linear growth and evolution. We discovered that the Sun was the center, not the earth, and we transcended. It was like a fresh breath in. Perhaps what's next is to surrender the conceptualizing of "centers" or "sources," in the first place. Like the breath out. Who knows what might happen when we surrender at least half of our solar source and singularity talk and come back down to earth!