Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dueling with Duality by Louis Evan Palmer


Duality is a natural state for people. We learn that basic "fact" early on and never quite seem to shake it. Typically, we never have reason to. It is a state where we feel, without obvious effort on our part, that almost every thing we sense has something which stands opposite to it or in opposition to it or apart from it in some relationship.

Duality seems to have aspects of a "state", aspects of a "relationship" and also to merely reflect the presence or absence of something where we often feel that the absence is a force or substance of equal stature to the one we sense by its presence.

For example, cold is the absence of heat. Heat is the presence of energy, cold is its absence. Yet, we feel cold as a force on its own even when factually it's nothing, it's the absence of heat.

Another clear example, darkness is the absence of light. Again, we usually feel darkness as a force on its own but it's an absence we detect and to which we react.

It's a perfect incarnation of the binary concept where 1s and 0s are the substance and 1s are the presence and 0s are the absence. However, this concept presents an interesting twist whereby position and relation give meaning to the absence beyond just being nothing.

Another idea to think about - if we looking at either a presence (say, heat) or an absence (say, cold), we may never notice it if it didn't vary. It is the contrast which allows us to observe many, perhaps all, phenomena. If, in fact, we cannot perceive things which do not vary then who knows what myriad of "things" we co-exist with but not not perceive because they do not vary. ..... like the source of everything.

We must also remember that context is part of the equation: we apprehend something like heat in a universe of space and time and mass and energy; we detect the presence or absence of one thing while situated in a realm on other things in which the presence or absence manifests itself.

To touch on the variance theme, we can go one further, if something exists which we cannot perceive in any way (to date), then we are not aware of its presence or absence. If that element were significant then our whole definition of reality would become suspect.

Thus far, we have a presence or an absence; we have a state which varies; and, we have a relationship wherein an absence or a presence gains additional meaning; we have context; and we have that which we cannot apprehend.

Some of the common things that we consider to be related in a dualistic relationship: love versus hate - hate seems to be more than the absence of love, where an absence of love seems to imply a frigidity, a lack of emotion, a lack of interest or empathy for someone; hate draws to mind, an active force directed at someone but with malice and ill-will. Is coldness and no feeling the opposite of both Love and Hate? It is if we want to maintain duality as a balance of presence versus absence. However, that's probably not how most people think of it.

Other potential dualities are more of the type where one thing stands apart from some other thing in some kind of a relationship. "Here" versus "There" or "Now" versus "Then". These are more of the measuring kinds of dualities - the one thing is located at a different point on some measuring standard versus another thing - in one case, it's a measure of space as in "here" versus "there"; in another case, it's a measure of time as in "now" versus "then".

"You" versus "Me" can be looked on in this way but it's really more than that though - it's one type of being versus another instance of that type of being.

"Motion" versus "Stillness" is an absence versus presence duality. "Conscious" versus "Unconscious" may be this type unless we use the more common meaning of "Unconscious" as a type of consciousness of which we are unaware - then it's two types of consciousness.

Some would argue that "Evil" is the absence of "Good" and in a similar manner that "Hate" is the absence of "Love" but it doesn't seem that way.

Reaching into the physical world again, we have a "Particle" versus a "Wave". Here is where an interesting thing happened. It was regarded for hundreds of years that phenomenon that exhibited these characteristics had to be one or the other and it was up to us to figure out which one a given thing was. At the turn of the 20th century, it began to be realized that a photon, for example, was actually both a particle and a wave. How it was both became the focus of another profound debate which is still going on today.

The Wave - Particle debate can be considered similar in some ways to the relationships a given person may have with other members of one's family - say for a male: son, brother, uncle, nephew, father, grandfather... we don't consider it an either-or proposition and yet it's the same person who has these very different relationships - is it also a duality of sorts? Maybe a photon has a "wave" relationship with certain physical aspects of reality and a "particle" relationship with other physical aspects. If so, a photon, or any other particle of this type, may have other non-wave non-particle relationships that affect its interaction with the physical world.

Is duality a lesser reality, a circumscribed version of the real thing, which allows us to navigate this universe but never actually apprehend it directly? Is it possible to adjust, or un-adjust, the observer so as to see the reality from which the duality emerges? Since it appears that the final arbiter emanates from consciousness, it would lead us to conclude that we can apprehend the reality in which duality is embedded.

What changes would ensue from this type of breakthrough? Or, perhaps "breakthrough" is not the right word as it implies something new when, in fact, it's something prior - maybe something like "unbirth" is a more accurate way of phrasing it.

It's reminiscent of sages who say we live in two realities - the dualistic one and the one from which it emanates. The feeling is that it can only be a "good" to see beyond duality.

Dueling with Duality, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,

Copyright Louis Evan Palmer 

He lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications. 


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