“You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake” – Fightclub, 1999
What do you believe? I’m asked that question often about my spirituality, especially since I live in a very Christian part of the country. My beliefs and I are not easily labeled or explained – we defy a simple categorization. Often, though, I don’t want to get into a protracted dialog with some mooncalf about my very personal theories and convictions. Consequently, I began classifying myself as “essentially subscribing to the Buddhist theory, although not a practicing Buddhist”. I agreed with general Buddhist ideas and believed this was as overarching theory that would encompass a good portion of my beliefs – simply put; it was an easy answer to a difficult question.
Recently, I began studying Buddhism more ardently and realized that I cannot continue to proclaim that I subscribe to Buddhist thought. Buddhism possesses some powerful, truthful tenets – and I still have a high respect for Buddhism and Buddhist thought, but the ideas of reincarnation, non-dualism, non-suffering and non-attachment do not settle well with me (You’re probably wondering at this point what’s left).
Nondualism, in particular, has caused me much consternation. My understanding of nondualism (My beloved Buddhists out there – please correct me if I’m wrong) is that it can be viewed as the understanding or belief that dualism is illusory. Some examples of dualisms include self/other, mind/body, male/female, good/evil, active/passive. Most of these items on this list can be viewed as “two sides of the same coin” or two extremes on one continuum. Mind and body are absolutely the same. We cannot have good without evil. I practice a blend of activity and passivity every time I step on my yoga mat. However, I have difficulty accepting there is no difference between “self” and “other”. Are we interconnected? Absolutely! Is there an interconnectedness between all energy in the universe? Yes! Does that mean that “self” and “other” are the same? I don’t think so. Why would we be created and blossom so differently if no individuality really exists? It doesn’t make sense to be given this very human, individualistic body and mind if our goal is to transcend it. What other creation in nature is as individual as a human being? Snowflakes. A snowflake is part of the snow, but does a snowflake try to become like every other snowflake? Try to hide its particular pattern? No. A snowflake is a completely distinctive, not-another-like-it-in-the-world expression of the snow. Both are real – both have value. A snowflake is not the snow. We too, as humans, should be our own individual expression of humanity and the pulse of life. I don’t taste, smell, see or experience the world like anyone else. I believe we should value, express and exalt our uniqueness – not suppress it.