Walt Whitman: Living the Paradox of Nonduality

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In Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, he begins Song of Myself:

I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease … observing a spear of summer grass.

These lines describe the paradox of nonduality and how to live.

The paradox is that while we are the same — “…what I assume you shall assume.” “…every atom belonging to to me as good belongs to you.” — everything is distinct: “observing a spear of summer grass.”

And how to live through the paradox? “…celebrate…” “…lean and loafe…” leaves-of-grass_mm

“I … invite my soul,” Whitman says. The soul is the paradox. It is who he is. Paradox is “myself.” “I celebrate myself.”

Read the second part of this treatment of Song of Myself.

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