Key Term: “Prior Unity” (as used in Not-Two Is Peace)
To rightly appreciate the book Not-Two Is Peace, and Adi Da’s vision of a Global Cooperative Forum, it is important to understand what he means by the term “prior unity”. By “prior”, he does not mean “previous”. He is not pointing to some past “golden age” of unity on Earth. Rather, Adi Da is speaking of the inherent, or “a priori”, unity of existence--the primal, irreducible state of being, in which the world and all things continually arise and pass away. This original state of being, is, by its very nature, one and indivisible, regardless of the apparently separate happenings that arise within it. We can understand this by looking at the ocean, which is a single body of water supporting an ever-changing pattern of individual waves.
Prior unity, in this sense, is reflected in every dimension of the world and of the human being. For over one hundred years, physicists have been demonstrating, in ever more sophisticated ways, that so-called “matter” is a unified continuum of energy, not merely an assembly of separate particles. At the same time, biologists have shown that the genetic structure of the human being is almost exactly identical throughout the entire human species, and that the apparent differences between the world’s races are very superficial.
Adi Da is saying that a clear awareness of the truth of prior unity enables intelligent collective action—action that starts from the working principle that prior unity is already so, rather than action that simply “works toward”, or struggles to establish, unity. In other words, he is saying that the “real” or “realistic” politics of our time must come from understanding, and acting in accordance with, how things really are.
But, as Adi Da points out, there is an immediate obstacle to such intelligent action, and that obstacle is “ego”, or “egoity”. What does he mean by ego? He means the false assumption that separateness is the case, and acting on that basis. Ego makes, or is, “two-ness”—the sense of “self” versus “other”. Adi Da places “self” in quotation marks throughout Not-Two Is Peace, indicating that the separate “self”, while constantly presumed, has no real existence. Human society is based on ego, or “two”--the subject and the object. Prior unity is “Not-Two”. And “Not-Two” is peace.
When Adi Da uses the terms “tribal” and “tribalism”, he is referring to ego in its collective form. He notes that human societies do not operate on the assumption that human beings are all basically the same. Rather, human societies operate based on what he calls “the presumption of ‘difference’”, or the notion of “us” and “them”. Identifying with one’s local grouping, or groupings—be it village, clan, town, religion, political party or nation-state—has an enormous amount to do with how human beings think and act. There is an instinctive assumption that those who are not part of “our group” are “foreign” or “alien”. These are key words in the common psyche and run through our social and political language.
Adi Da refers to the psychology of identifying with one’s own group first, over against other groups, as “tribalism”. He is not thereby criticizing the positive bonding between individuals in any human grouping, but pointing to the reflex of separativeness. It is said in the ancient Upanishads of India, “Wherever there is an ‘other’, fear arises.” What is true in the individual case is true also with collectives. The fear of the “other” is the age-old root of human conflict, and, when extended collectively, is the root of war.
It is obvious to all who face the facts that, at this critical point in human history, “tribalism” has been pushed to terrible, and potentially terminal, lengths. Earth-systems are breaking down, and the social, economic, and political order is under severe stress in many parts of the world. The nation-states—and the various associations of nation-states—are inadequate to deal with the urgent global realities, which cross all borders. A new human process that gives form and life to the fact of prior unity is urgently required.
Such a forum would allow humankind to become conscious of itself as one great coherent force—the only force capable of requiring and implementing systemic change that takes all factors into account. The purpose of the Global Cooperative Forum is to create the context for a new cooperatively-based global civilization to emerge, rather than the current “non-civilization” that is being imposed worldwide by exploitative, consumer-driven economics and related military agendas.
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