A friend who is Indian told me the following anecdote. “If you ask my brother whether he would like coffee or tea, he will always answer with the option you said last. He makes a rule of it, because of the Hindu concept that duality is bad; you avoid duality.”
A bolt of interest shot through me when she said this. I’m fairly familiar with the concepts of Eastern religions, provided that they have featured prominently in Keanu Reeves movies. Somehow, however, the practice of avoiding dualism, to the point of abstaining from beverage selection, has escaped my notice. In a perfect demonstration of Baader Meinhof-style cognitive bias, shortly afterwards I read about the concept again in a novel. It described (from memory, because it’s taking too long to find the page) a cult of people who hang out in graveyards doing unspeakable things to detach from the duality of good vs evil. I am impressed that this non-duality concept can be held superior even to that most universal moral frisson, the flight from evil to good.
If you’re in the mood to ponder morality, by the way, this video is worth a watch. We liberals don’t lack morals – we just have fewer. Actually, it’s a bit of a stretch to call myself a liberal these days. I mean could a liberal enjoy this blog? I’ll leave it to you to spot which of Haidt’s moral roots it offends. Drinking game.
So getting back to my Indian friend’s brother. He practises detachment from a preferred beverage. Australians are gagging to define themselves by their particular requirement for a piccolo latte of a certain consistency and provenance. During a period of adolescence that occasionally stretches well into the 30s, we aspire to discriminate so finely between sub-sub-genres of pop music and attribute to them such importance that we’re incapable of being friends with 99.9999 per cent of the world’s people. Most tragic of all, Tabitha’s academic prowess precluded her from participating in sport for many years.
Can the concept of resisting duality be usefully explored when one does not entirely believe that “we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us” and that “Maya is the principal deity that manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality in the phenomenal Universe” (quote from the ancient veda of Wiki)? I think so.
Coffee. I both love it and dislike it. I will list some benefits below which will co-exist with Beth’s list from the previous post. I hope that next time she is offered a cup of joe, her choice will be random.*
- Provides sense of euphoria and insight for particularly susceptible people (such as myself)
- Reduces risk of dementia (incl Alzheimer’s), gallstone disease, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, gout, dental caries, numerous forms of cancer, suicide and diabetes
- Reduces sensitivity to pain
- Stimulates conversation