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‘The Centre will not hold’: The lightning bolt of disruption and the invitation to yield

Updated: Mar 24

The phrase “the centre will not hold” has often been associated with the idea of chaos, dissolution, and existential uncertainty. Coined by the poet William Butler Yeats in his poem “The Second Coming,” it evokes a sense of disintegration and fragmentation.

Yet, within this lies an invitation to explore the nature of reality — and to switch modes into a self-revealing and opening to the world beyond concepts (duality), and our deeper sense of inherent wholeness and sacred safety.

"The real is simple, open, clear and kind, beautiful and joyous. It is completely free of contradictions. It is ever-new, ever-fresh, endlessly creative. Being and non-being, life and death, all distinctions merge in it"

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, 'I Am That'.

During times of great disruption and existential crisis, should we take the invitation to yield, a heartiness and dynamism beyond our built world in mind (3D reality) can be discovered. In what appears to be chaos often accompanied by incredible pain, the potency of disruption, should we pay attention, is an invitation to a new dawn.
Spinning out - A World in Disarray
In his poem, Yeats paints a vivid picture of a world in turmoil:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

This portrayal of a world spiraling into chaos and disintegration resonates with our human experience. It reflects the feeling that the structures and certainties we once held dear are slipping away, leaving us adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Exploring this from the nondual perspective, we can see this as an opportunity to recognise where we, awareness, identify with mind generated patterns forming how the world appears to us and expresses as us - and the natural movement towards our inherent freedom within and from these patterns of seeing and relating.

'The way out is through' - The illusion of dualistic thinking and perceiving

One way to interpret “the center will not hold” is through the lens of dualistic thinking, through which we perceive reality as a constant battle between opposing forces — good and evil, poverty and greed, light and dark, this or that. In the minds’ attempt to take position as one or the other, the world appears to us as a tumultuous and frightening place where we must battle, fight, and believe to survive - as the self-confirming mode becomes increasingly wound in its holding, whilst inevitably perpetuating the spinning coin in a world of apparent opposites.

This is a movement that is experienced through a vertical, upward downward appearance – ‘the heavens are above’ and ‘hell below’, as well as a horizontal inside-outside experiencing of ‘the self and the world’ – ‘I am in here, you are out there’, ‘I am the victim, you are the perpetrator’.

When we experience directly “the center cannot hold”, (appearing as collapse, disordered, and disorganised) it signifies the breakdown of this dualistic framework, and the felt sense of chaos that so often accompanies this. We see the falsities in how we try to position our sense of security (self-concept) ‘in the world’ through apparently balancing on concepts. Its a revealing of the movement of dynamic equilibrium. (see blog post 'The clown and the unicycle: the self organising principle in the dynamism of the self).

And so, in recognising and experiencing through life, if we can bring to this apparent chaos and breakdown a sense of deep presence — we find that we are being pointed towards a deeper truth —

 a truth where we come to the deepest solace.

Dropping through Opposites

In our direct experience of the present moment, reality naturally appears through it’s self-revealing mode of engaging with itself. This is a natural recognition of the nature of ‘this’ - experienced through transcending dualistic thinking. This is not a negation of life, but a deepening into life. We are invited to recognize that the apparent opposites of existence — order and chaos, creation and destruction, war and surrender  - are two sides of the same coin — an expression of the minds constant attempts to access a deeper quality that holds, allows, and absorbs this experience of spinning on opposites in the sea of life’s chaos. In our times of great disruption, this false sense of security (of our built world in mind) is revealed, which can appear to us as both terrifying and devastating, yet should we pay attention at the level of sensation, a sacred safety and deep peace beneath and beyond this experience can be revealed, and heal.

"It does not matter much what happens, for ultimately the return to balance and harmony is inevitable. The heart of things is at peace"


Nonduality asserts that there is a deeper, unifying reality that embraces ‘both’ aspects of our dualistic thinking (it should be this, not that), and it is in this realization that we find profound wisdom.

And so when we apply the lens of nonduality to “the center will not hold,” a renewed interpretation emerges. Rather than seeing it as a lamentation of chaos and dissolution, we can view it as an acknowledgment of the impermanence and fluidity of all things.A revealing of the layers and fabric of reality and the built world in mind, from that space where such patterns do not exist yet fully allowing all patterns 'to be'.

Always here.

Always available.

Unconditionally loving.

In this perspective:

- “The center” represents the illusion of a fixed, unchanging point of reference.

- “Not hold” signifies the recognition that such fixity is an illusion.

With earnest inquiry it can be seen that all patterns of the built world in mind are bottoming out perpetually as the natural movement of freedom in form.

Nondual Integration

Nonduality, in the face of feeling the sense of disintegration and chaos, invites us to embrace the paradox of simultaneously integrating into a deeper sense of the self beyond identification with the appearances of patterning, where we can take seat from the space of True Nature to engage more fully in life as the whole. It points us towards true unity — a deeper knowing beyond knowledge that arises when we transcend the dualistic notions of order and chaos, stability and dissolution, inside and outside, here and there. Through the felt sense, we cann identify the unifying quality from which such notions of apparently opposing forces (grounded in perceptions of time and space and subject-object ways of being and perceiving - seeing through the lens of patterns) arise.

It is in the dissolution of fixed concepts and identities that we discover the profound interconnectedness and unity of all existence and resource The Self, as the Self, in being. No longer do we consider ‘God’ or ‘The Universe’ as ‘out there’, but instead we experience directly that our very awareness is That — our True Self — always unified, eternally whole.

Embracing the Nondual Perspective

The phrase “the center will not hold” serves as a poignant reminder of the impermanence and ever-changing nature of reality. When we let go of our attachments to fixed centers and rigid dualities, we open ourselves to a deeper understanding of the oneness that underlies all of existence.

Nonduality challenges us to move beyond the limitations of dualistic thinking and embrace the inherent interconnectedness of all things. It is a pathless path of awakening that invites us to see the unity that transcends the apparent chaos, revealing a deeper and more profound truth about the nature of reality and our identity as the unified field, our shared being. This is a journey into the heart of experience, not to be mistaken for more conceptual understanding and intellectualising, but to invite us, during our experiences of disruption, to delve into the visceral experience of this truth and the incredible pathways to healing it offers.

In the paradox of “the center will not hold,” we find an invitation to explore the limitless depths of nondual awareness and a direct experiencing of the infinite.  In this sense, we can live life and explore the experiences of chaos and destruction in the world of appearances, and in so doing, harness the energetic forces of experience to access the ‘peace that surpasses understanding’.

POINTER: During times when there is a sense of conflict or confusion in the field of experiencing, instead of trying to 'work it out', FEEL into the sense of the conflict or confusion itself - drop into the middle of the sensation.

THERAPEUTIC VALUE: Nondual Therapy provides the unconditional sacred safety and peace to allow the flow of experiencing in the sense of chaos of the built world in mind, as well as an open invitation to explore the world of concepts and access the deeper unifying principle, wisdom, and energetic quality that is coming into its own self-revealing through existential chaos.


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Mar 13
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Amy Ward
Amy Ward
Mar 14
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