Duality... it is an ancient concept, and one that is intimately linked with the number two. Humans have recognized duality all throughout nature for thousands of years, many classical examples of which have been delineated in Figure 2 below this paragraph. We cannot conceive of our world without duality, but what is it exactly? It is the fundamental connection between one and many, because the number two is the gateway of plurality. Any whole can be arbitrarily divided into two parts or duplicated into two wholes, and it is possible to take any given thing and extrapolate two things from it: i.e., a thing and the lack of that thing. Two is what makes differentiation possible, and also what makes unity seemingly impossible, although this is never truly the case. No matter how contrasting or contradicting, there is always a unity of opposites which together form an indivisible whole. This is because of two things: "opposites exist, precisely because of the existence of the other", and all opposites necessarily contain a part of the other within them. Symbiosis, "the living together of unlike organisms", stems from the "yokings together" of two or more spirits, meaning that opposites will always share an intimate connection and therefore transformation between them will always be possible. Even duality itself can be understood as the interplay between dualism and nondualism. There is perhaps no better visual representation of this doubleness than the ancient Chinese Yin-and-Yang symbol (Figure 1), which perfectly embodies the basic unity of opposites in a handy pictorial icon. While the yin-yang symbol illustrates this concept for us with only two disparate parts (represented by the colors black and white), in all actuality this concept holds true for any whole composed of any number of parts— two just happens to be the simplest number possible to illustrate plurality, since it is our first (integer) pit stop on our way from singularity to infinity and beyond— for the interaction of the two is what gives birth to all of the many things we know in this world.
|land/sky or land/sea
|reality/imagination or reality/fantasy
It is easy to see, looking at Figure 2 above, that there is much wisdom in understanding how all the varieties of duality shape our world, literally defining our existence and paving the way for even greater variety in the future. Let us examine these dualities much closer and meditate upon their meaning in our lives!
One of the most compelling of all dualities is the essence of existence itself: what is and what isn't? The answer is simple, but the explanation for it is complicated. From our human perspective, some things exist (e.g., horses) and some things do not exist (unicorns). But existence is truly one of those rare all-or-nothing kind of things: either everything truly exists (even the non-existent), or nothing truly exists (even the existent). Because we are able to reference non-existence, it is logical to assume that it must have some sort of being, otherwise we would not be able to reference it at all. It's not that non-existence doesn't truly exist in some way, but rather that non-existence so transcends our human understanding that it is practically (to us) non-existent. This suggests an essential duality of beinghood as understood from our human perspective: "manifested" being refers to what is currently manifested in the reality any given being currently has access to (i.e. "here is something") while "pure" being refers to all that exists in totality (i.e. "there is something"). This distinction is very important because it enables the spiritual electricity that creates worlds.
The origin of the word "existence" comes from the Latin existere/exsistere meaning "to stand forth, come out, emerge; appear, be visible, come to light; arise, be produced; turn into; cause to stand, make or be firm". It may seem strange, but as a matter of fact existence and non-existence are inextricably linked in that the former "stands forth, comes out, emerges, & arises" from the latter. A reality is a unique instance of physical existence, and emanation is how all realities instantiate, or manifest, from a nonphysical state of non-existence. Every reality is naturally born along with its existential inverse, which ontologically stands in equal yet opposite proximity to the Void. It is this very proximity that determines the properties of any given reality: worlds existing farther away from the Void are considered more material (specifically defined, materially tangible), and worlds existing closer to the Void are considered more spiritual (generally undefined, materially subtle); in other words, existence becomes "more firm" (more physical) the farther it exists from its own origin. While pure being always exists in the Void, only certain things are able to exist within any given reality; e.g. a horse has a manifested being in our reality while a unicorn has no such manifested being in our reality (but may possibly have manifested being in another reality). A unicorn does, however, experience pure being within the Void, regardless of its ontological status in any given reality.
And somewhere within this great ocean of cosmic being lays planet Earth, where we currently exist as human beings contemplating the essence of existence itself.
If nonexistence exists, then where is it and what does it have to do with us? Well, that's an interesting couple of questions. It has everything to do with us because we owe our very lives to it, and it exists in the deepest crevices of reality wherever we are unable to observe it: in the center of atoms themselves, beyond the sight of every microscope we create. From our cosmic perspective we experientially understand that we exist, and it has been rather difficult for beings like us to conceive of nonbeings (who perhaps have a difficult time conceiving of us as well). We that exist can only contemplate non-existence as a thing that exists, because we have not yet formed a schema that enables us to understand nonexistence on its own. Who would expect a fish from the deep sea to accurately conceive of what lives in the deserts of dry land? While not impossible, it is highly improbable for us to be able to accurately conceive of the complete opposite of all we have ever known. A creature that lives in the desert may not be able to accurately conceive of the deep sea, but it can do so to a tiny extent by striving to imagine the opposite of the desert it has always known. Imagination is what makes it possible for us to conceive of things which do not have a manifest existence in our own reality, and plays an important part in the processes that transform the unreal into the real.
Of all things, I've found that numbers themselves can explain dualistic expansion quite beautifully.
When the number two dawned in our universe, it came from the number One, which in turn came from the oldest number, the radix number Zero. If Zero symbolizes a sentient nothing, then One symbolizes a sentient something, and Two symbolizes a pair of opposite yet complementary sentient somethings. When Two was born, Three did not yet exist, but its potential did. With the dawn of Zero came the potential for One, and from the dawn of One came the potential for Two, and from the dawn of Two came the potential for Three, and the same goes for every number ever afterwards. Along with the dawn of One also came the potential for One's opposite: no-one, otherwise known as Negative One.
Just as every reality is born with its existential inverse, every number is born with its existential inverse as well, which is how we obtain the domain of negative numbers. Not only did One give literal existence two the number Two, but but Negative One gave existence to Negative Two. Three and Negative Three came about the same way from Two and Negative Two respectively, and this is how we obtain both Infinity and Negative Infinity.
As the sole source of all other numbers, Zero is the fundamental connection between the positive and negative domains of numbers. No matter how many numbers dawn into existence, Zero always exists in the exact center of the number line and signifies the true neutrality that is non-existence. All nonzero numbers, whether positive or negative, signify the totality of existence. Each number necessarily forms a connection between elements in the great chain of being. One is the connection between nothingness (the Void) and the gateway of plurality (the origin of existence); Two is the connection between singularity and plurality; Three is the connection between the origin of plurality and plurality itself (the rest of the numbers, all the way to Infinity).
Thus far, the only numbers that have been discussed are Real Numbers, but there is another important aspect worthy of serious consideration: the Imaginary Numbers, which share the same kind of existence as unicorns (discussed earlier). Despite being imaginary, these numbers are considered to be real and they are essential to our human understanding of existence. Zero is unique in that it is considered both real AND imaginary. Every number, whether real or imaginary, can be expressed as a Complex Number in the form a+bi, where a and b are rational numbers and the Imaginary Unit i is equal to the square root of Negative One (if a is Zero then the number is considered purely imaginary, if b is Zero then the number is considered purely real). By extending the numerical possibilities to include both imaginary and real numbers, complex numbers allow solutions to ALL polynomial equations, even those with no real number solutions. Thus it is so that even in the realm of numbers, the only truly non-fuzzy things in existence, imagination expands the availability of solutions.
|"the universe/our universe"
|"The Universe/ THE UNIVERSE"
|Existence & Anti-Existence
|"The Tao That Can Be Told"
|"The Eternal Tao"
|Body Of God
|Mind Of God
(including positive & negative Infinity)
|Zero (only Zero)
|Creation, Dream, Manifestation
|Creator, Dreamer, Manifester
|Began with the Big Bang
|Existed before the Big Bang & has no actual beginning
|Both created and destroyed
|Neither created or destroyed
|Emanation of consciousness
|Source of consciousness
|Will one day die
|Is eternal, immortal
|Unable to experience other timelines/dimensions except through transcendance
|Naturally experiences all timelines/dimensions always
|POV: something came from nothing
|POV: nothing came from something
|Contains only itself
|Contains all universes
|Lack of True Knowledge, Not True Knowledge
|Ayin, Ein Soph
|Pure Potential Energy
|"the Vortex", the Void
Our world is not the only world, but one of a great many worlds— infinite worlds, actually. The interplay between being and non-being is what gives rise to them all, each one with an existential opposite. Our world started with what we call the Big Bang, the same way countless other universes began their lives. Everything we'v ever known instantiated during that special moment and grew like a tree from a seed into the universe we now call home. Prior to our Big Bang our little universe was just an idea, pure potential energy amongst the aethers of the Void, and nothing more than a fantasy, a twinkle in the eye of God. It has become natural for us to refer to our own universe as 'the universe' despite there being many other universes, just as we refer to our planet's moon as 'the moon' despite there being many other moons. This distinction is necessary for us because in order to speak meaningfully about our greater environment we have to define our current cosmic perspective in spacetime, otherwise known as "here" and "now". A set of universes is known as a multiverse, and the set of all universes is known as The Multiverse— or, to emphasize the oneness of it all, The Universe. It has been given many different names by many different cultures over the millennia— names such as Tao, ParaBrahman, Monad, Ein Soph, Ultimate Reality, Supreme Personality Of Godhead, the Absolute— because people with different perspectives define It in different ways.
All things exist on a continuum, and The Universe has only one rule when it comes to manifestation: Anything Goes. Anything can happen and anything can be, because there is enough space and enough time for every single thing to become something. There are no absolutes in all of existence, because absolutes purely exist only within The Void. For better or for worse, all things are allowed to exist, somewhere, sometime. Because no thing is disallowed or thrown to waste, there is an existential need for everything to become sorted somehow, and the simplest way this sorting occurs is via what Abraham-Hicks calls the Law Of Attraction: "that which is like unto itself is drawn". This is how The Universe gives birth to the infinite universes.
IRRATIONALITY & THE ABSURD
Some would say that the concept of nothingness itself, and especially the idea that all existing things are somehow created from it, is irrational and absurd— and they would be right about that! Many things in The Universe are inherently absurd, and exist naturally beyond the gamut of rational understanding. The rational is a subset of the irrational just as existence is a subset of non-existence. Human rational understanding is a system of belief based upon chosen axioms, and different axioms will yield different reasoning systems built upon different values, each of which define the irrational in different ways (e.g., some systems of belief posit that ghosts are incapable of manifested being and therefore their manifested existence is considered irrational, while other systems posit that ghosts are naturally capable of manifested being and therefore their manifested existence is considered rational). Because truth itself is relative to one's perspective and all things exist in some way, it can be said that existence itself is absurd— which is an inconvenient and sometimes frightening facet of reality for many humans, particularly those devoted to believing in the omnipresence of rationality. Acknowledgment of an instance of irrationality helps us define the limits of a rational system in the same way that acknowledgment of a wall helps us define the limits of a room, and there are many who do not wish to acknowledge the limitations of rational understanding. It is easier for some, especially those whose livelihoods depend upon traditional logic, to simply assume the correctness of their chosen axioms and treat them as dogma than it is for them to explain the illogical in a logical way. Our contemporary systems of logic cannot sufficiently handle conceptualizations of the absurd, and they may never be able to do so. That kind of knowledge cannot be reached fully via rationality alone— something more essential is necessary to complete the understanding and achieve the power that comes with such understanding. The closest science is currently able to get to this understanding is via the study of quantum mechanics, because at the core of every subatomic particle is the engine which transforms an irrational nothing into a rational something (which is why things get weirder and weirder the deeper we dive into the subatomic realm). Like the existence/non-existence duality, it is impossible to fully understand our world without also understanding the necessary interplay between rationality and irrationality.
Rationality emphasizes control of belief, while irrationality emphasizes freedom of belief (two crucial dualities). Without freedom, existence becomes stymied, and without control, existence becomes cancerous. Rationality is subtractive in that it selects & cuts out certain possibilities (manifested being), while irrationality is additive in that it allows all beliefs to exist, adding them all together and getting rid of no possibilities (pure being). As with vegetation, in our universe there is time for growth and time for pruning, and so there is a time for rationality and a time for irrationality. Duality reminds us there is a reason for the unreason because, as stated earlier, no matter how contrasting or contradicting, there is always a unity of opposites which together form an indivisible whole.
Few things embody the strangeness of absurdity better than our conception of Division By Zero, something we all know remains undefined within the mathematical realm. Most rational people simply do not allow division by zero because it leads them to conclusions they cannot understand, but I personally believe this is a poor excuse for neglecting to contemplate the subject further. Like the unicorn, the number(s) we get when dividing by zero have a pure being within the Void but no manifested being in our reality. Division by zero leads to algebraic absurdities because it necessarily defines the boundaries of rationality. Division by zero is the mathematical equivalent of creatio ex nihilo. Our system(s) of logic cannot define it because by its very nature it exists beyond the boundaries of logical definition. It does not make sense to our rational mind because it isn't supposed to. Division by zero IS absurd, but this doesn't necessarily make it meaningless or futile because it is still a part of our world, and anything that advances our understanding of our world is something I consider to be worthwhile. Every thing is a piece of the great puzzle, after all.
This essay was too much for one article! DUALITY: Part Two will speak on the topics of axiology, belief, conflict resolution, gnosis, transformation and more ♥