Many spiritual traditions and self-help philosophies emphasize oneness, transcending the ego, and “living in the now”. Yet a state of simply "being" doesn’t reflect the human condition. Being without knowing, a quest for Nirvana as nothingness is freeing, yet nihilistic.
On the contrary, human consciousness comes with these superpowers: the faculty to experience life as duality and the capacity to escape from the present. Most agents, from celestial bodies to plants, or the majority of animals, lack the conscious ability to detach from their immediate environment, envision a potential future, or revisit their past. Even if they possess awareness, they don't "live in their heads" as humans do. This distinction is also evident when comparing artificial intelligence (AI) to artificial general intelligence (AGI). Superintelligence is accompanied by the capability for autonomous thought and planning, and likely self-awareness. This begs the question: what other superpowers might emerge?
Being or not being is a dualist realization. The thought of death robs us of the present. Recognizing our mortality is a key factor in self-aware consciousness. Agents who don’t know they exist are still programmed to live, survive, and replicate - yet reactive in comparison with proactive humans.
Humans are part of the larger environment yet, like other organisms, they are unique, exceptional, and in our case, self-aware. What makes humans, like any others, is not only the fact that it is part of a whole, but that it is separate. Duality, self-aware or not, is what makes the world and creates variety. Even love is a manifestation of this, as it is the want to reconcile, to unite, yet it expresses separation by its longing to rejoin.
Humans are dualist. Separation, conflict, and competition are part of our nature. Could AI’s be non-dualist, or less so? Reconcile in the way we can’t, and help us on the way? Less conflict could use less energy. Engagement to resolve issues as opposed to being programmed to win? Homeostasis above maximizing. That would be at odds with evolution, which is generally about violent change and would reflect a different ethos from the gaming culture of so many of AI’s developers. Wishful thinking has less dualist synthetic intelligence, helping humans become gentler. Yet, how do you not lose passion for the future if optimizing for balance and harmony?
Humans act and react with the outside world but, uniquely, with themselves. They are both the actor and the spectator in the play of life. Everyone is the main protagonist in their own dreams. We all live in front of a mirror.
There are only levels of consciousness, going from simple sensing to agents who are self-aware and can represent things and imagine them. In all of this, there is no separation between the body and the mind, just an evolution of capabilities, therefore a comprehensive intelligence, a synergy between the physical and the mental, in essence, non-dualist. The duality is not within the person, but between the agent and the outside world, the acknowledgment of the separation of entities between each other, even if a part of the same universe. I have a sense of self, separate from others and the world. I may be part of the world, but I see myself acting as one, and others as others. That is where duality bites = Hell is myself, as opposed to “Hell is others”.
Owing to the self-reflecting nature of their consciousness, humans experience their lives in front of a mirror. The mirror is embodied by themselves, family, friends, and society. Distorted maybe, yet it also appears in dreams, featuring all the same actors, including those who played a role in one's past. Naturally, we long at times to take the reflection away and transform the mirror into a transparent glass, allowing for an open horizon, and enabling the eye to travel without being arrested, nor to see itself and its life. The clear glass is sought in religions, meditation, and some psychedelic journeys. They engage the individual to lose themself and surrender to something beyond, vaster. It’s an abdication of what makes human life, the sense of self. The dissolution of singularity, overcoming duality.
We are at once unique and separate as well as unseperated from the whole. Even if duality is an illusion, life is the experience of duality.
The way to overcome duality is to accept duality. Even if everything is one, live with the experience of separation, of opposites, of body and mind, etc. The awareness of life is through duality. It’s like a dance with a partner, together, yet separate - it takes two to waltz.
Overcome dualism - life and reality are a coexistence of opposites.
Part of the human condition is duality = I may be one, but separated mentally as me and my image of you.
We have memories, as all bodies have, including trees and animals, which in our case is in relation to others and the world. Looking at ourselves (like in a mirror) but also in action with everything else. Our action with everything else. Our dreams feature our image interacting with those significant in our lives, sometimes from a long time ago, often dead. The earth, trees, or bees may have an experiential memory, but we are the only ones we know who knowingly are acting as ourselves. When we dream or think, parents, siblings, children, and others appear, like in a play or in reality! Does the flower talk to its creators?
Dualism may come from the fact that humans had to separate from nature to survive - humans had to fight and conquer nature. It’s the same way that man is treating machines.
Humans used to remake their souls, now they will modify bodies and minds - how will it affect the concept of duality?
To understand duality you have to experience duality.
Human nature is dualist: the continuous battle between reason and desire, body and mind, peace and action, complexity and simplicity, more or less, control and exuberance.