Monday, April 20, 2009

The Dying Concept of Duality

I first became aware of the origins of the concept of duality when I read Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. The subject of duality became important through his search for the the meaning of quality. He stated, that quality existed in both Classic and Romantic realms of thought, which in his terms defied the concept of duality.

I am now reading a book called Hands of Light by Barbara Ann Brennan, that picks up this concept and puts it into reference. Which has caused fantastic revelation for me, that I would like to share.

The concept of duality, in Western civilazation, dates back to the early Greek philosophers. Then Issac Newton reinforced this existence with his work in physics, due to his view that everything was solid objects, or said more simply, everything is separate. This has been our existence since his concepts were presented.

Then, in the early 1900's along came Albert Einstein, and his theories shattered Newton's Law, by stating, space is not 3 dimensional, and time is not a separate entity. Both are connected and form a 4 dimensional continuum, space time. Connected is the operative word in the last statement.

If you are not a Physicist, you probably react to Einstein's theories, much like I do, "It's way over my head!" In my opinion, this is because we have no way to apply it in our everyday lives. Where as Newton's theories, could be applied every day. Newtonian thoughts are "that is a rock", or "that is a tree" and "that is the ground". Those thoughts reinforce the concept of everything is separate. This where duality is reinforced through the concept of either/or.

In the 1920's, as scientists began to explore quantum physics they also began to confirm most of Einstein's theories. The term quanta is name given to sub atomic particles called energy packets. The more scientists began to explore, the realization became quite clear, things are not either/or, they are both/and. Take light as an example it is both a wave, and it is individual energy packets. It is not either a wave or a packet. It is both and!

So, what does this all have to do with you and I, in our everyday world? It's really pretty simple when you boil it all down. Everything is made of energy, to include us and our thoughts. We exist in a field of energy known as the universe. Energy is a continually flowing through us and from us at the same time. Through this energy field we are all connected to every thing in the universe!

When we actually understand this concept, the duality disappears. There is no good or bad, right or wrong as an example. There is both good and bad to all situations, and there is both right and wrong. Using those concepts as examples can be quite difficult to get our heads around in the world we live in now. I am sure if we try to apply this concept to say a really hot topic like terrorism, the concept becomes much harder to apply.

I can hear you thinking terrorism is bad, terrorism is wrong, and yes on the surface it is, but within those acts of terrorism there are seeds of good. I now hear you gasping! (GRIN!) If we dig deep enough and long enough, and if can keep our opinions separate from the facts, then we will be able to find those seeds, as they do exist, they must. It is the Law of, both/and.

By the same token, all good acts contain seeds of bad. Your not gasping this time, but your internal dialog is starting to tell you I am completely nuts, and that is okay! Again if you dig deep enough you will find the seeds of bad, however tiny they are they are still there.

Now think of the Yin/Yang symbol, with in the black realm there is a white dot, and with in the white realm there is a black dot. If you apply the concept to the whole symbol, it begins to take on new meaning.


  1. Just a quick correction. The concept of duality dates back to about 5000BC with the advent of the Taijitu symbol painted on walls.

  2. Thanks Jaia, I did not know that, I will try to correct that today!

  3. what about Reality and Nonreality? : )

  4. I was surfing aroud and landed on your shore. So far I have been to Australia, Africa and New York and Hoonah.Gotta love the internet. Thought I'd leave a comment since I was in the neighborhood. First, graet fresh thinking.
    One thought that occured to me was the parable of eden and the apple-often people get all hung up on the idea that that was the moment humans learned about bad-but they forget that people learned about good and the seeds of good can be bad--from an Alaska POV, I can tell you much bad has been done to the native people here (and in other places of course) because they have endured horrible injustices, all in the name of good-on the other hand, they have enormous benefits because of this history. You were talking about duality so that was my small (slightly view askew) response on the subject-Have a great day.

  5. It is the silence which makes us feel connected to the vastness of the space and time. Silence quitens and subdues our thoughts. It is by practicing silence that we are able to observe first -our thougths and then our actions. Our actions are result of our thought process. By observing silence we observe our throught patterns which could be carefully guided to achieve more serene and peaceful existence. It is only though constant observation of our mind and thoughts that we are able to establish some connection with the universal existence of living and non living material around us.

    Pure thoughts originate only in silence. The turbulence of our daily life disturbs the thought patterns by diverting our attention more towards mundane and wordly matters. This distracts our iherent ability to cultivate silence ,seek peace and develop compassion.