You know how everything’s dual and stuff? Life’s got death. Known’s got unknown. Light’s got darkness. I have this girlfriend.
We see dualities cracking up all around us. For every sensitive human making the world better, there’s a shithead making life difficult for everyone. For the angelic truth-teller, there’s the lying devil. For an Einstein who apparently died a virgin, there’s a Genghis Khan who not so apparently is responsible for your existence on earth. At some point in the last 1000 years, we were all brothers are sisters in the literal sense. If that’s entertaining, try hard to forget this fact: we still mated.
From gender, religion, politics, and sport – all the way down to the Bella twins, we love our divisions. I prefer Brie.
During the unfolding of the last century, these divisions attained the fecundity of rabbits. Until the end of the 19th century, divisions were still regulated by power and religion. With the shooting of an obscure Serbian archduke, all that changed. It wasn’t about power anymore. It became about individuals and their need to live up to their delusions.
How else do we justify a guy with a toothbrush mustache and his ability to convince half of humanity that an entire race must be wiped out because they are interfering with man’s ability to become God? At one level you could argue this is all still religion and power deep down or go even further and say Adolf had mommy issues. But at a more reality-for-dummies level, you can see the beginning of something more consequential.
Divisions serve man’s malcontent. Divisions are our salvation. Divisions give us identity. Divisions give us something to unite over.
A hundred years ago, Hitler propagated an idea any sane society would have rejected without much thought. Yet he managed to convince entire countries to fight for his idea. Below the façade of tribal instinct, something dark was brewing: For the first time, everyone had an equal shot at eternal glory. A shot at having their need for love fulfilled through the most hateful, vile-filled, piece-of-shit means.
With the proliferation of this idea, every discourse started to resemble beliefs. Not just in the depth of its divisions, but in the fanaticism of its convictions. Before the Internet, divisions were concentrated locally. See Jonestown. The Internet changed all that. Anyone could start a cult. Social media became the application form.
No article is complete without taking a piss on Social media. As if the level of absurdity weren’t enough, we are now divided not just inside social media but amongst it too. Twitter for the sexually repressed, Facebook for the geriatric and Instagram for the answer to the question: “what if everyone were made of botulinum toxin?”
We pick the platform which feeds our delusions the best. Which is what divisions have extended into. Social approval.
For a while, I was a part of the few who swore by the iPhone. I got my brother to stand in a long line at the NY apple store when one of the earliest iPhones came out. It was how I showed my love for Steve Jobs. Who am I kidding — it was about the status.
Whenever a division becomes about an individual’s need for attention, you can be sure s/he will do some lame shit to get it. I would remove my phone cover every time I got a call so people could see the Apple logo at the back of the phone. As Saint Batman once said: It’s not who you are underneath, it’s the graphic designer that defines you.
If all this weren’t enough we are even divided within ourselves. And the divisions are all moronic: Morning person. Introvert. Non-fiction only. Am I still dating her?
All this has made us more neurotic and judgmental. How else do I explain my long-cherished belief that anyone who stays up late or eats meat must have anger issues? The last part despite knowing Hitler was vegetarian.
These divisions are useless. And I want to get out to the way. To the middle path. So the point I have been trying to make all along is that you should all convert to Buddhism.
Well no. The middle path is not a religious commandment. The middle path is a path that’s perpetually new. Because it is pathless as it is endless. It has no goal or purpose. It is a way of understanding. It’s when divisions are not defined by their opposites but by their complementaries.
It’s not sadness versus happiness. It’s whether you choose to fight your feelings or accept them. It’s not good versus bad. It’s about your capacity for compassion and hope. It’s not right versus wrong. It’s about transcending the right and wrong in order to make space for listening.
The middle path is not about balance as much as it is about contradictions and living with these contradictions. It’s why taking the middle path is hard. Because it means changing your mind. It means being wrong. It means being immune to organized bullshit. It means finding your individuality.
Our polarizations are as fictitious as our geographical divisions. To feed divisions is to constantly be in a fight with human nature. But for some reason, we have come to enjoy that. Sadomasochism is now a popularity contest.
Winning the war against human nature means losing the war against yourself. This is the final duality. To take the middle path is not holy as much as it is healthy. It’s not enlightened as much as it is empowering. It isn’t indifference. The highest form of trust the ability to accept differences. That’s what the middle path is.
There’s no eternal glory in the middle path. But there’s an eternal flowering. Each time you veer off the path, look for those who share the fragrance and you will find your way back.