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Dual Unity

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Dual Unity

Dual Unity

In this state of ego development, the child is not aware of the mother or himself as separate individuals in their own right. The ego has not separated out. Mother and self are still a unity—a dual unity. In infant observation, we find that when the infant experiences the dual unity without any frustration or conflict, his essential state is that of merging love. It is a pleasurable, sweet, melting kind of love. The baby is peaceful, happy, and contented.

However, as we have pointed out before, the baby is not aware of essence conceptually or from the perspective of an observer. He is the essence, so in this phase he experiences the dual unity of the symbiotic phase as the merging essence. What he is dimly aware of is the presence of mother and himself as "one," and this "one" is felt as merging love.

How the Child Pushes Away Her Essential Identity

Here, at the end of the practicing period and at the beginning of rapprochement, both the dual unity and the sense of grandeur and omnipotence are lost, as a result of the maturation of the child’s cognitive and perceptive faculties in conjunction with increasing identification with the body-mind. Dealing with this colossal disappointment becomes the task of the rapprochement subphase and an important fulcrum in the development of the child’s self. Since the child lacks discriminated awareness of her Essential Identity, she does not understand that it is this identity that is truly grand and in a sense all powerful, but her physical-emotional-mental self is not. She never learns that she is more than the psychosomatic organism. This situation has far-reaching consequences. One of these is that the perception of vulnerability, limitation, and dependency, without the ability to discriminate these from the experience of the Essential Identity, leads to the abandonment of identity with the latter. The child loses her nonconscious self-realization. She pushes away the sense of grandeur and omnipotence because she feels it is not true, and in the process, she pushes away her Essential Identity.

Object Relations and Dual Unity

The Merging Essence is not revealed exactly by the loss of the mother's inner image, but more specifically by the loss of the deeper layers of the psychic structures. The unified mother image is a composite of images of mother remembered from all phases of ego development. The earliest, and hence the deepest, layers of it were formed in the symbiotic phase of ego development. This phase, which starts sometime in the second month of life and lasts until about the tenth month, is characterized by the infant behaving as though he and his mother were a unified functioning system, as though they formed a dual unity with a common boundary. Mahler called such behavior symbiosis, not implying the biological concept of symbiosis, but describing
“that state of undifferentiation, of fusion with mother, in which the "I" is not yet differentiated from the "not-I" and in which inside and outside are only gradually coming to be sensed as different."

This means that the infant's first object relation, the first time it becomes aware of relating to another, is in a form that cannot be strictly called a relation. There is still no separation or differentiation, in its mind, between self and other. There is still no concept of self or object, no concept of inside or outside. There is only a sense of a unity that has two vaguely perceived objects in it, what Mahler called a "dual unity."

Origin of Ego Identity

So ego identity is seen to originate in this time of undifferentiated dual unity. In fact, the deepest aspects of the personality are seen to go back to this undifferentiated state of the ego. The personality began to be absorbed particularly at that time, between two and ten months of age. In
fact, undifferentiation, or merging, is necessary for this absorption of the qualities of the personality. Personality, then, begins with the child's identification with the qualities that the child experiences through merging with the environment. During the merged condition of the symbiotic stage, the child has no conception of what is his and what belongs to the environment represented by the mother. There is still no concept of self and other. This is the meaning of dual unity. So a feeling that might originate in the mother could end up as the child's. The child experiences the feeling because of the merged condition. If in time he identifies with it, it becomes his. In fact it becomes part of his developing personality.

Soul's Need for Dual Unity

The need for a positive relationship with another is very deep, and at the deepest level for most people it is unconscious. We don’t normally feel the desire for dual unity directly. It is powerful and renders us extremely vulnerable. When you directly experience the need for dual unity, you can’t sleep for weeks at a time. You wake up from your sleep terrified, or shivering from cold and fear. It is a tremendous challenge to bring to consciousness and let go of the good relationship to the good mommy that is in your mind. It is such a fundamental need of the individual soul, and so entrenched, that we live it without ever becoming conscious of its power. When the need for the good object takes over, we are generally willing to forget everything—essence, reality, God, truth—and unconsciously, compulsively go for the dual unity. Its power is the final psychodynamic support for the ego identity itself. The following are intimately connected: the attachment to life, to existence, to love, to the good mother. It takes the state of absolute poverty to expose this deep attachment, to bring to consciousness the part of you that has not changed its mind and heart, and still believes it is going to get the perfect union with the perfect object one of these days. The soul might believe that the way to get the dual unity is to become enlightened, but she is still pursuing the perfect object.

The Child Experiences the Dual Unity of the Symbiotic Phase as the Merging Essence

However, as we have pointed out before, the baby is not aware of essence conceptually or from the perspective of an observer. He is the essence, so in this phase he experiences the dual unity of the symbiotic phase as the merging essence. What he is dimly aware of is the presence of mother and himself as “one,” and this “one” is felt as merging love. As Mahler says, there is still no differentiation between inside and outside, between self and mother. It is a dual unity, and this is his perception. However, he is actually experiencing the merging aspect of essence. The child does not know that he is the merging love. There is still no sense of a separate self in this phase. So there is the impression, right at the beginning of the ego's formation, that the dual unity is merging essence. This initial and primitive impression of the baby is faulty because the merging essence is he himself. But we see that this wrong impression lies at the root of the personality. This equation of the dual unity with the merging essence remains in the unconscious, at the root of the personality, for the rest of the individual's life.

The Source of All Attachments

To thoroughly comprehend this deep desire, you need absolute purity. Deep in the soul resides the primal longing for the good mother, where everybody feels: “I just want my good mommy and that’s it. I want to sit in her lap, have her give me a big hug and kiss my neck. Then I will feel happy and complete.” The terror of giving up this deep longing of the soul is one reason why poverty is frightening. When the state of poverty begins to arise, you find yourself running a mile a minute, terrified as if a goblin is after you, after your most cherished possessions, after your very life. To comprehend what I am talking about, you have to penetrate deep inside, in your guts, where things are stuck and held, where you are too afraid to be truly alone and truly nothing. People die not wanting to let go of this deep desire, this hope and attachment. I am not saying that you should try to find this need for dual unity, for the good object, and relinquish it. The truth is revealed simply by exposing it, by looking at your attachments in your life. All the attachments come from this source. It is the foundation of all impurities.

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