The duality present in physical life seems especially intense these days.  We see it in partisan politics, in civil wars, in social inequality and even in our own personal lives where we find ourselves criticizing and feeling estranged from those we once thought were “like us”. images

 

Although duality often takes the form of conflict and strife, it is essential in physical life for two reasons.  The first is because it helps us distinguish what is “good”, or life giving (an apple) from what is “bad” or life threatening (a rattlesnake).  Without being able to make these distinctions we would not remain long on Earth.

 

Unfortunately what is physically good and bad for us is easily transferred into our emotional life, so that good and bad become judgments about other people and other things that often have nothing to do with our actual well-being, but rather reflect our belief systems and our need to validate ourselves by being surrounded by those who are similar to us.

 

Duality is also important for the growth of consciousness. It is only through absolute opposition that we are able to bring new things into our awareness.

 

A small child raised in a house with a small, short-haired pet soon learns this animal is called a dog.  One day he visits a neighbor’s house with his mother where there is a cat.  The child points at the cat and says “dog”.

 

What is the first thing the mother says to him?  Most likely she will not say, “That is a cat”.  First she must say, “That is NOT a dog”.

 

Absolute opposition, that is, “dog vs NOT dog”, is first necessary for the child to discover a new concept.  First he must understand that what he thinks he is seeing is not what he thought.  Only then can he begin to process the new information.

 

Ironically, the growth of consciousness is not only a product of duality, it is also the way to move beyond duality and grasp its true nature.  Although a small child must first process the difference between dogs and cats as absolute opposites in order to integrate this new concept, once that concept is internalized, the child is then free to conceptualize the oppositions, that is to realize that this opposition is only a relative opposition or concept, not an absolute.  Before long he realizes that dogs and cats are both mammals and are really more alike than different, given all the other animals on Earth.

 

When we conceptualize opposition we realize we can use this ability to organize and categorize in order to find either opposition or similarity in just about anything.  This ability to organize by opposition or similarity also allows us to see how things can be both opposite and similar at the same time.  Through this realization we can begin to use conceptualization to take the emotional impact of duality out of our personal lives.  Conscious awareness enables us to seek similarities where before we only saw differences.

 

Consciousness can help me realize that a friend’s path to spiritual growth may be different from mine, but we are both seeking the same thing in the end.  It helps me understand that black people and white people,  immigrants and citizens,  believers and atheists  are all just people, with my same desire to grow and evolve and be respected and valued by others.   It helps me realize that despite the nasty rhetoric, politicians on both sides of the isle have more in common with each other than with most of their constituents.

 

When we focus consciousness on duality we understand opposition as a functional tool.  Then we no longer need to be victims of our emotional reactions, even though we may still have them.  Consciousness allows us to see opposition and similarity at the same time, and discover how they complement and enhance one another.  It gives us the full picture rather than a partial image.  Consciousness takes us above and outside of ourselves.  It expands our awareness to the Soul level, where compassion and blessings for all creation fill our hearts and open our minds to insight and wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

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