Dualistic Thinking

The idea of dualistic thinking, that there is a good and evil way to be, that people and things should be categorized according to certain standards meets the idea of toxicity and purety of thoughts.  Dualistic thinking is the way most people think and act, it is the “us vs. them” syndrome. It brings to some the internal comfort to know that they are part of the inner circle. They then feel reassured that their thoughts are the correct ones and feel vindicated that they are right and others are wrong.


Dualistic thinking is a toxic way of thinking because it does not take into account the fact that there are two sides to each of us whether we like it or not and that we cannot deny one over the other completely. It does not take into account the fact that between these two sides there is an enormous range of grays and that some thoughts or beliefs can be changed instantly according to the perspective of the moment. How can we become more aware of the way we use our mind and be conscious of when dualistic thinking takes over and we are in a mode of not seeing anything realistic, all the while thinking we see the truth?


Dualistic thinking spells judgment; judgment that we are better than the other, that we know better. Yet, once you decide to suspend judgment and really look at what is around us, we see that everything is the way it should be, and that life is unfolding one moment , one minute at the time. We see that the flow of it is perfect and that we don’t need to interfere. There is no reason to judge or assume anything. It is when we doubt, when we want to control everything that things fall apart.


Prejudging people and events is a very toxic way of thinking because it does not allow you to see the truth. I really like Wayne Dyer’s analogy when he says: ”Prejudging thinking is treating your mind like a rental space for the thoughts and beliefs of others”. What a way to put it! It really brings it home that we don’t want to let other people control our thinking. We should be the masters of our domain like they say. So why is it so easy to let others take over our mind this way? Society sometimes put us in situations where we feel we need to be “part of the gang”. Usually, when we grow up, this dualistic way of thinking is stronger, especially in the teen years where you must feel like you are part of the group, whether the popular ones, the intellectuals, or the smart ones, etc. It is again the “Us vs. them” attitude, pushed to the extreme when bullying enters the picture. But as adults, why is there still some lingering feeling that you must act this way? Why does the bullying take on a different form but is still present?


I have observed a group of people demonstrating that dualistic way of thinking very clearly for the past few months. Their outlook is dualistic and judgmental… toxic. In their minds, there is a clear right and a clear wrong, a good and evil. I am looking at all of this with surprise and sadness. Not only is this way of thinking using a lot of energy that could be used to create and work, but this way of thinking does not lead to deep living either. All that energy used to protect, consolidate and condemn is no longer available to observe, to live, to enjoy, to love and to give.


This way of thinking only separates people, making them feel like they belong to different camps when each individual should only try to do their best without being judged. Dualistic thinking results in groups that try to eliminate and banish everyone and everything they deem is not acceptable or part of their vision. This expands into societies that are intolerant towards the weak, the sick, the unproductive, and the simply different. And this also creates self hatred when one recognizes a trait associated with the other group within themselves, as they will, inevitably.


How much time and energy are being utilized towards this end, attacking others, trying to protect a virtual territory. When we put energy into fighting, trying to feel like we are better than others, it is ourselves that we destroy. What pushes some people to act this way? Is it insecurity, is it unhappiness, is it greed?


When dualistic thinking has become your habitual way of thinking and you become aware of it, it is not too late to change. It is never too late to re-assess our way of thinking and listen to our inner voice. What we need to do is shut down the external noise and listen to this inner voice. Let it guide you and be aware of the fact that you are not your thoughts. You can change them according to your own inner truth.



    1. I believe so. It is only difficult to hear it sometimes. Meditation helps. Thanks for your comments.

  1. “Reality is Between the Dualities”…. Middle Way

    When you realize that nothing is 100% good or 100% bad, then you can understand that reality is between dualities.
    Because we have been raised to think dualistically, it is pervasive in our conscious mind. When you understand that dualistic thinking is not reality, then you can see the real world more clearly and become enlightened.

    “Between wrongness and rightness there is a field. I will meet you there.”…. Rumi

  2. Ok i fully agree wit wats said…. But im lookin at it from a religion perspective….. Ok.. So here’s tha story…. Some chick wrote a note about how christianity aint being fair on homosexuals… I suggested she googled why gomorra and sodom were burned… After she did… (realising that it was primarily because of homosexuality amongst other sins) she started 2deviate… And kinda mocked the situation o lot impregnating his daughters… Sayin a righteous man wouldnt do that….Back 2 tha point… She’s arguing that homosexuality is forbidden by god even though tha truth is right in-front o her eyes…. Ma aim was 2le her know why christianity and most christians were r against it….not 2judge…. I was highlighting it… Bringin it 2back surface so she can understand…. So its turned into this huge debate… People r missing the point…. Wantin 2be right….How can they claim 2be christian but only act like christians when it suits them? Im no perfect christian…. I try abidin by god’s laws…. And i do sin a lot… Im fornicating…. Swearin… But i do acknowledge that and spend my life really tryin and wantin 2change and be a better christian… One which could would be proud off…. While on the other hand they not so different from me… But r only ignorant o perhaps turn a blind on god’s laws but then claim 2be christian… But i aint judgin em either coz its not my place and i dont have the right 2…. So i cant help feelin like i have i dualistic mindset…..Like im committin the “original sin” all over again…. But i never questioned god… And i try 2abide by all his laws and not question him… Thats like eating from the “tree of life” only knowin wat he wants u 2know and doing wat he requires me 2do…. And spreadin his word is one o the he requires me 2…. So if i come across people who choose 2be christian when it suits their propaganda and jus be ignorant and say god loves us all…. Then wat is that called?

  3. Children are raised to think dualistically, because they need simple concepts when they are young. Most religions continue teaching dualistic thinking, because they want people to be good and not evil. Many people live their whole life thinking that is the real world, but it is not. As AV said, “I try abidin by god’s laws… And i do sin a lot”. He is not 100% good and he is not 100% evil. He is “between the dualities” and so is everyone else on this planet. Some are confused by non-duality, and they might use terms like “moral relativism” as a way to criticize non-duality. It takes a more mature mind to become enlightened to non-dualism. It takes an open-minded person. Dualistic minds are stuck in “either/or” thinking, which is close-minded and small-minded.

    There was a harp-playing monk named Sona who practiced asceticism to become enlightened. Buddha asked Sona, if you make the string on your harp very tight, does it play well. Sona said no. Buddha asked, if you make the strings on the harp very loose, does it play well. Sona said no. Buddha then told Sona that it is only when the strings are tightened the right amount, does the harp make music.

    It is the same with the Middle Way. You must try to find the place in the middle which makes harmonious music in your life.

  4. hi I was luck to come cross your Topics in wordpress
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  5. Dear Suzanne,

    Thanks for your beautiful writing. I fully agree with you that the ultimate truth is beyond dualistic thinking. The environmental crisis that the world confronts today largely comes from the dualistic thinking. The non-dualistic approach is thus necessary for our current world, as we can realize that the lives of all sentient beings and the natural world are precious and vital for humans’ survival. In that context, I believe that the concept of ‘Co-Living’ (Japanese: Kyosei 井 生) can bring peoples across the world together toward a sensible sustainability.

    Kind regards,

    Hung Ky Nguyen

  6. Hi,
    I have been reading Richard Rohr recently, and struggled to comprehend what he meant by “dualistic thinking”. Thanks to your words, I feel some of my confusion and uncertainty lifting.
    Thank you for taking the time and trouble to write in the way you have.
    Best wishes,

  7. Hey I’m having trouble understanding what dualistic thinking actually is. Can you help? I’m writing a paper on it.

    1. Hi Sarah. I am not sure how I can help. You could read Wayne Dyer and philosophers. It often comes down to the fight between the true self and the ego. Good luck !

  8. Ditto to the above (Jonathan Wheeler), it’s all down to Richard Rohr – but in a good way! Thank you Suzanne, this has been a great help.

    1. Bonjour M. Celiset, j’ai une version en français de ce site: enviroartfr.wordpress.com mais l’un n’est pas nécessairement une traduction de l’autre. J’écris parfois en français, parfois en anglais, parfois j’écris les 2 versions tout de suite. Je ne crois pas avoir écrit ce billet en français mais devrais peut-être le traduire en effet et surtout revisiter l’idée de la pensée dualistique après tant d’années. Merci du commentaire ! À suivre…

  9. Fact is there is a right and wrong.
    Fact is there is good and evil.
    Jesus came to win the battle between
    Good and evil, and He said” on the cross
    ” it is Finished” we don’t get to still do bad
    Things and be ok with it. We just don’t want to
    die to our self. If Gods Holy word says, we as
    Christians shouldn’t do something than we
    Should try hard not to do it.. Yes there is good and evil. Read the bible and don’t twist it..

  10. A well known psychologist explained it best by saying about 28% of the population is just wired differently. They do not appear to see cause and effect, only their ideals. The rest of us simply have to accept that and stop trying to explain the unexplainable or control the uncontrollable. In the end, we can only exert our control over our own thoughts and actions. Hate the act, not the actor.

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