Dangers of a Divided Mind
Bill Cottringer
“Warning: A divided mind misses half of everything but deludes you into believing you have the whole truth. So, if you want to get twice as much done in half the time in finding the whole truth, rejoin your divided mind.” ~The Author.

I think I may have re-discovered some important wisdom from the earlier Human Potential Movement of the 1970’s. This movement helped us make the important transition from the negative psychology of human failures and pathology to the positive psychology of success and excellence. It was also the likely start of the governing paradigm shift from an ego-centered, win-lose, and competitive mentality to a win-win, cooperative one with selfless compromise and collaboration. And since change and conflict are as sure as taxes and death, this leads us to a fundamental difference in how to respond—with an optimistic, hopeful viewpoint or a pessimistic one fraught with fears and worries.

The wisdom I am referring to has to do with understanding our divided minds and how they came about. This wisdom can help heal the rift of the Great Divide we have going on right now between people’s opposing truths, values, beliefs, ideas, feelings, morality, perspectives, and political and religious ideologies. Or, at the least it can help reduce the harmful impact which this Divide is having on us. Either way this is more of a win-win outcome for everyone than a win-lose one for some.

Acceptance of a reality as it is, as opposed to trying to make it into what we would prefer it to be, can open the door to better understanding and knowing about things like the important details of our current Divide. And understanding the purpose of what is happening can in turn can lead to uncovering important knowledge about what we can and can’t do about the complex dynamics and growing negative impact of the Divide.

The first question is this: Is there really a natural world of Yang and Yin polar opposites in the universe, separate from our conscious awareness of them? Or do our minds just create and assign the quality of oppositeness with our experience, judgments, and words? How ever these pairs of polar opposites did come about, they are loud and clear with disturbing disruption in our minds, more than ever today. The Divide is asking us to do something about it.

Originally, we may have noticed differences between ourselves and the other objects we saw around us. And maybe even reflections in water gave us the notion of self-consciousness. Noticing the differences between night and day, the transitions between the seasons, and the harsh reality of life and death probably started the division. But then we continued to divide the whole world into this or that with quality judgments and descriptive words to represent one opposite from another, such as good or bad, right or wrong, honest or dishonest, pleasure or pain, optimism or pessimism, emotional or rationality and so on until everything had its opposite.

Alan Watts was the master at exposing the illusion of opposites in simple and clear language. He saw apparent opposites as just being different sides of the same coin. For Watts, the divided mind met its match when flutily trying to resolve inherent contradictions and ending up frustrated from not being able to do the impossible, such as moving without changing positions, picking ourselves up by our own bootstraps, or having our eyes see themselves. Some problems are solvable, some are only manageable, and some are neither.

Whether or not this is the correct perspective, it makes sense on several levels. At the very least, this possibility offers the most hope in undoing the damage and dangers of continuing thinking and having conversations with our divided minds, by paying more attention to commonalities with less focus on disturbing differences. On another level, the perspective is probably what is driving the current DEI movement in Human Resources. At any rate, the divided mind is what created the Great Divide and healing can only begin by us putting back together all the things we took apart with our divided minds.

Let me leave you with some hope for healing the painful Divide that is keeping all of us hostage, or at least offer a sound way to decrease the harm it can do. First, consider following the side of the Divide with the most appealing pull to your discerning conscience within your convictions and core values. Then have fun and get purpose and meaning in pursuing knowledge and virtue and playing your chosen role with the sole purpose of doing more good than harm by using your freedoms and rights responsibly. Letting go of assumptions and replacing them with an abundance of cooperation, collaboration and compromise will get us through this temporary detour in our evolution.

“Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin.” ~Hermann Hesse.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is retired Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, but still practices sport psychology, business success coaching, photography, and writing, living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Because Organization, an intervention program in human trafficking. Bill is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Critical Thinking (Authorsden); Thoughts on Happiness, Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.). Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away and Christian Psychology for Everyday Use (Covenant Books, Inc.). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (206)-914-1863 or ckuretdoc.comcast.net.