Shifting from unhappiness to happiness, part 5: The principle of one power undoes your belief in two powers

by William R. Yoder on April 24, 2010

(Click here to read this series from the beginning) Shifting from unhappiness to happiness. That is the real question. The only time that we need help or advice or principles of happiness is when we are unhappy. In the earlier posts of this series, we say that (the story of) the belief in two powers is the underlying cause of our unhappiness. The real meaning and value of the principle of one power is that it enables us to undo the underlying belief in two powers.

Now the converse to this is also true, at least in my own experience. Whenever I am unpeaceful and unhappy, whenever I feel fear or anger or conflict of any kind, whenever I find myself in the midst of negative judgments about others, whenever I am upset in any way—I can always find an underlying core belief in two powers. After all, if there were not something bad—a real threat of some kind to me or others—what would there be to fear? What would there be to be upset or angry about? Every time I am upset, that upsetness is an implicit affirmation of an underlying belief in two powers—a power for good and a power for bad, a power for well-being and a power for un-well-being, a power for abundance and a power for lack, a power for happiness and a power for unhappiness.

This reminds me of a bumper sticker I once saw that said, “Worry is a form of atheism.” I remember at the time that one religious friend of mine was very upset about that idea. She protested that she believed in God even though she worried occasionally. But if “God” means “one power, beyond which there is nothing,” then there could never be any reason or justification for worry. Only if “God” means one half of a two-power duality could there ever be a reason to worry.

So whether or not you actually think about the ideas of “one power” and “two powers,” what you feel, what you experience, how you respond to your feelings and experiences, your effect on the experiences of others—all of these things will reflect either an underlying belief in “the one power of love beyond which there is nothing,” OR an underlying belief in some kind of real conflict between a power for good and a power for evil, between a power for well-being and a power that threatens well-being, between a power for happiness and a power for unhappiness.

The real value and truth of the principle of one power is that it can enable you to undo your current underlying belief in two powers, and thus undo the fear and conflict and suffering that such a belief system introduces into your experience.

If you weren’t already in a two-power way of thinking, then a one-power way of thinking would not have any value for you.  The two-power dualistic way is not some individual mistake that you made.  It is the way of thinking that is inherent in language, and which we find in every human culture. It is the way of thinking that mystics of every age and every tradition have identified as the cause of our experience of suffering, the cause of our unhappiness and lack of peace. The spiritual journey can be thought of as the progressive undoing of a two-power way of thinking.

The value of the belief (belief choice) in one-power is that it enables you to undo this ubiquitous underlying belief in two powers. And that removes the block to your awareness of the presence of love. The emotional reflection of the awareness of the presence of love is perfect peace and joy. The way of thinking based on the principle of one power is essentially a reparative or restorative story, which can allow your mind to experience the deep and lasting happiness that is its true nature.

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