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  • Writer's pictureJL Nash

Not Two, The Taoist principle


It’s funny, if you had asked me this question yesterday, I’d have a very different answer but today I am reading Taoist scripture. The Faith Mind Sutra, Hsan Hsan-My by Sengsten. Third Zen ancestor.

It talks about the Taoist premise of ‘not two’. It encourages us not to set definition with things we like or dislike. These thoughts are the yin to yang, two sides of a coin, a pancake. One doesn’t exist without the other.

When I hypnotise people sometimes I get them to focus what they like and then the problem.  I propose to them that the thing they like to do is the same as the problem and as much as this sounds crazy, for some, they really get the principle of ‘not two’ and within that they find inner resources to solve their problem.

This is what brought me joy today. The realisation that without even being conscious about it, I have been leading my clients to ‘not two’. Resilience is the sum of our inner resources we have for survival. We can acquire resilience . It’s ultimately the fuel that gets us up, standing, moving forward especially after being static. It is both yin and yang. It addresses both yin and yang.

Resilience in dogs - less easy to train. Dogs, well my dog doesn’t like being alone. She depends on me to steer emotional output and apart from barking at strangers who come to the door, she’s just not that resilient.  I taught her how to knock on the door when she wants to come in so that she didn’t bark and disturb the neighbours. But when I hurt my back, Lizzy wouldn’t leave the house even to go for a pee, so attached to me she was. I called a friend over to walk her. My dog refused to go. She knew I was ill and she had her purpose, once again defined; to be my companion.

After I guide my clients through their ‘not two’ hypnotic experience, she knows that the hypnosis is finished and she gets out from under my desk, does a downward dog stretch and then goes over to the clients, I think to check on them. They are usually happy to stroke her head as she stands beside the reclining therapist’s couch.

My first dog was a jack russell terrier crossed with an english bull terrier. Short legs and big nose, she was exceptionally personable and loved people over other dogs. She had no resilience and had such deep separation anxiety she’d scale 6ft walls and break chains attaching her to concrete posts. She’d run down the road after my car when I left the house. When she died my boss, Richard, said to me that if there is reincarnation, she was destined to be human the next time round.

My second dog is with me now. Shy of strangers and attached to me she is culturally a one-person dog with the exception of my husband. She knows we are ‘not two’ and that we are equal parts of one union. There is no me, as I am without my husband and there is no him, as he is without me as his wife.

I always loved the honeymoon stage. He loves the day to day living. Occasionally he brings me flowers and often he makes me jewellery. He interjects a taste of the honeymoon each time he remembers. For every quiet time, there is always a time for action.

I used to talk with my grandmother daily over FaceTime. 40 years apart, we were not two when we spoke or were together. Born to her teenaged daughter, I was like an extra child to her, only four years younger than my uncle. We were a unit, the old and the young, not two.  When she died I lost half of me every morning when I would have habitually spoken to her.

Of course there is dark for light, there is rest for activity but yin and yang are so much more than simple opposites. Not two brings us to a sense of completion, no unfinished ends to be tied in, no gaps to be filled. There is no water without air. There is no phone without electricity. There is nothing on this earth which exists in a solitary setting. If you take the not two concept to be all encompassing then - absolutely nothing stands alone.

My grief is still raw, grated into the landscape of my heart. My gratitude for the memories I can relive at any moment comforts me and staunches the fresh bleeding. I am not two even though I have lost her. The object we became together has ceased to exist and I return to the essence of myself. Not two.

I hypnotise myself and although I want to change habits and source inspiration, the best thing I can do is to invoke the concept of not two and within that, know that I am complete. For every inspired word there is the feeling that surrounds it. Even pronouns take on new meanings. They cannot stand alone and in the very least they are not two.

Not two - I am present within the great Tao and in solitary moments, am made of such stuff that seeks and attaches itself, like a ramora on the side of a shark or ship, not two.

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