Understanding the Duality
This is a topic that has been touched upon before but I am here to tackle it once again. Anyone that understands this idea very well, please feel free to contribute.
[What is the Duality?]
Simply put, the “duality” of all things is the nature in which anything and everything holds opposing truths: all of which are true. The infinitely small is also infinitely big and vice versa. Our Earth is an enormous planet but also a mote of dust suspended in space. The murderer or hero are both each other: it is all perspective.
[Why is understanding the Duality significant?]
Understanding the duality of all things is important because it allows us to see from other perspectives. The more important part of seeing the duality is knowing that all perceptions are RELATIVE and that is separate from the inherent, physical reality. There is the distinction that the mind is not the body and vice versa; we can perceive the world but we will never know it.
[Examples of Duality in Perspective]
1.) I see a flower, it is turquoise. A colorblind man sees a flower, it is light-green. A dog sees a flower it is dark blue. A blind man doesn’t see the flower. A woman born with more cone photoreceptors in her eyes can see a spectrum of more colors: she says it’s “_____” (not yet identified color). All relative observations, who is to conclude on the color of the flower? Nobody; not a single one knows the true color of the flower but at the same time they all know the color of the flower. The flower is all colors, and it is but one. One must understand that they are all looking at the SAME flower.
*A key point to the duality: it is the same flower and at the same time it is not. The key is that the perception of the mind has distorted their reality. The colors they see are real and false at the same time. The world can only be perceived so how are we to find real truth without perception?*
2.) A person is shot in the head, killing him instantly by a random passerby. There are several witnesses and this is what they say. A woman says that it happened quickly and that what happened is horrible. A child says that it was the longest happening he has ever seen, he wonders why no one saved the person. A man says this is a tragedy and that “random” violence is reflective of the dark side of human nature. A man says he saw that man earlier pacing back and forth near a bus stop, like he was planning something. One last girl says that she knew the man that was shot: it was an ex-boyfriend that abused her; she says it was good riddance. They are all right and none of them are right. The perceptions they have made are both resolute and relative: true and untrue.
*A man is shot dead on the streets. It is both random and not random depending on perspective. The perspective makes your personal observation true and untrue. It is random if you believe it to be but it is also not random. The tragic nature of the killing is also a perception. Something is tragic only in relation to one’s own beliefs. Is is tragic that the man died? It is all perspective. The variable of time also comes into play: time just is, but it is also perceived and measured. To say that something happened quickly or slowly is a perception of time. Time only flows at one speed but is perceived on infinite different levels.*
3.) A have a house. I say the house is worth $100,000. A real estate appraiser says it’s actually only worth $90,000. A monk says it’s worth nothing. A monopoly owner says it’s worth $300,000 and he’s willing to pay cash upfront for it. A bird flies by and shits on it and doesn’t consider its worth whatsoever. A kid, who is the son of the previous owner, thinks that there is no price that can match the value that it means to him because he has lived there his whole life until his family moved out. Who is right?
*They are all right and none of them are right. The house has no inherent value because all the values given to it are relative to the person ascribing the value. The relative nature of values means that there are no true values for anything because everything is based on perspective. This is the separation of mind and matter. Because these values are relative, the house itself has no set value: it can be changed at any time. The significance of this very liberal nature of values is covered in my last point below.*
[The Relative and the Absolute - The Nature of Duality]
The duality of all things is what separates truth into two parts, two parts of the same whole: the relative truth and the inherent, absolute truth. If something is perceived, the absolute truth cannot be understood. Absolute truth is beyond the perception because perception is one filter that life or something is viewed from (it is merely one angle and not all angles).
The true significance of understanding the duality is the further understanding that nothing we perceive is set in stone: this means that old perceptions and ascribed meanings and truths can be overturned and rewritten. We as beings of perception are free to change our perspectives and ascribe new, relative values to things. We can overturn old traditions and ways of living and running society and install newer ones that we “see” fit. The duality makes us more humble when we understand it: all distinctions are relative to something. To say we are “intelligent” is to be relative to something else, but this relativity goes both ways: in relation to ants we are more intelligent but in relation to the rest of the infinite universe we are likely not that intelligent (infinite possibility of more intelligent life in an infinite universe). To say money has value is not a real truth: it is not absolute but relative.
To say anything has value is to be on one side of the coin: one side of the duality. True values cannot be created because a true value would already exist and be inherent in the object. Relative values are “created” but a better word is perceived: we perceive the values of something, we don’t really create a value. All perceived values are “false” in this sense because the other side of the coin cannot be perceived but merely understood.
The nature of duality is what makes society as a whole a collective “illusion”, a collective perspective or angle of looking at something. It is a true angle but it is not all the possible angles. It cannot be all the possible angles; perception is limited to one angle. This is important to understand because it means that we can collectively view everything from another angle, a possibly better angle. To say that money has value, or that this is taboo, or that this race is better than that race, or that men are better than women, or that this distinction and that distinction… is to be seeing things from one angle. These are all relative truths, they are far from absolute. Although these perceptions are true and false at the same time, it is the false nature of them that allows for the redefining of all things.
That is all. Thank you very much for your time.
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@egarim, Duality and objectivity can lead to an understanding of Nihilism. Nihilism is a pretty freaky thing to encounter if you are not ready for it and I will advise you: Nihilism applies strictly to concepts and it is very important to remember that there is so much more to a human being, life and the universe than just concepts. Nihilism is only a step in the disolving of attachment, it can leave you free of the conditionings of experiences and observations.
At that point you can order reason according to what makes sense to you, not what life long impacts of education and culture have installed. As I said, there is a very important stage after Nihilism, it is not the be all and end all. Things such as constructive relationships and destructive forces, the Yin/Yang universe, things beyond concept, what has began, survived and prospered all before the first concept was concieved.
A human as a result of these factors and the duties, responsibilities and liabilities of being a constructive being that has resulted from constructive relationships. The tasks of protection and liberation of constructive relationships as well as the control and focus of destructive forces toward purpose, all with their logical benefit.
Seeing the dynamic power of concept, knowing its place in these tasks, and never submitting to it as your identity, it is your tool subject to you, never the other way around.
But all these are things are a ways off, most people never achieve these understanding, even if they persue them, so know your strengths and weakness.
I just posted this almost exact same reply in response to another topic on HighExistence…so forgive me if that breaks any etiquette here…but it seemed very pertinent to this thread and I’d like to share it:
The more I read about Einstein, the more I come to believe that he was a HEthen and chasing the philosophical concept of duality. I think his pursuit of quantum dynamics was a metaphysical pursuit and his medium for discussion and enlightenment was mathematics. There is an AMAZING transcript of a dialogue between Einstein and a Indian Philosopher named Rabindranath Tagore that just blew me away and I think is germane to your topic . I used to think Einstein was a mathematician with a whimsical look on life, but now I think he was at heart a philosopher on the quest of understanding duality with a natural ability for mathematics. Makes me rethink my world view. Lovely! Thanks for this discussion ;-)
Link to Einstein/Tagore transcript:
edit: rereading this, its not very well written… :)
I can assure you that I have passed the stage of Nihilism. I have see beyond human concepts and have returned to find a balance between existence and non-existence. I understand that concepts are merely concepts but I appreciate both sides of the duality. It is like learning to counter one with the other (Yin & Yang); fire trumping water, and water trumping fire. I am not sure if it is a sane manner of doing things but I am pretty sure I am not insane.
It is a weird place to be able to see beyond labels and still live in a world of labels.
Just my thoughts.
Nice post:) It seems that we are discussing different types of duality: I am speaking of the duality of truth (nature of relative and absolute truth), and you are speaking of the duality of the physical and metaphysical (and the duality of positive and negative).
“the physical and the spiritual don’t mix – they are like oil and water. They both can exist, but they do not interact substantially”
Very good point. I agree that the inherent nature of the two makes it impossible for them to mix or coincide, as physical beings interacting in the physical world, we are incapable of proving or disproving the spiritual (but that does not mean it is not there). As for the positive/negative duality, it is very similar to my post: everything is perspective, so make of something as a good thing or a bad thing, it is entirely our choice.
@arenotlost, Nothing wrong with directly quoting yourself from other posts, just as there is nothing wrong with making the same point over and over again, even if it is just re-phrased or in a different context. I do these things all the time. The thing is, each thread draws the attention of people primarily on name sake, I don’t know about others but I do not read every thread, every OP and responses. Even in threads I am interested in, I don’t always read every response. This is because I am not, and never have been, commited to anything that much in my life.
@egarim, I very much so enjoyed the post but I must say that we can achieve a sense of Truth outside of the duality. The very affirmation of a duality (of anything) means there has to be something that can observe the duality. While duality is a perspective, existence is the source of perspective. At least, in the sense that regardless of how you view the world, there has to be SOMETHING viewing the world. For something to participate in a dualistic nature, there has to be the third (and also objective) element of perspective which is existence itself. (How does this existence view the duality vs. that existence?) And as far as spiritual and physical things interacting, they have to if they are going to be apart of the same essence. Everything in the physical world is a reflection of the spiritual world. Whether this plant is alive in the 1600s or 2000s, the essence (dare I say, the hypothetical “soul”) of that plant has to exist prior to the plant coming into existence. If it’s essence, its very nature, didn’t exist, then we couldn’t have that type of plant at all. While we can think of a perfect image of man, there is no one physical instantiation of it. However, that doesn’t mean that all of man doesn’t participate in that image. There are things that Man deems worthy of exemplifying such as ethics, virtue, and love. These things are grounded in Absolute Truth and are good regardless of WHICH man participates in them. They 1) have to exist 2) have to make logical sense for man to participate in them and 3) have to be goods that perfect human existence to be truly deemed Good outside of their existential properties. If it exists, it is True and Beautiful and Good BY NATURE of existence. These are the 3 transcendental properties of real being. They apply to everything that has, does, or will exist. This applies fundamentally to the concept of God. When we talk about God, conceptually, we’re talking about the standard all-benevolent, knowing, and capable being that is the source of everything. God doesn’t participate in evil since He is all that is Good. He is all of existence. God participating in Evil would make him less than all benevolent which is contrary to the nature of God. A God that’s even a little evil is not worthy of truly being called God. When Man participates in evil, he performs actions less than what he is capable of. He uses goods for less than their intended and perfected nature. You can see this in fire. You can use fire to sanitize and cook your food, heat your homes, and forge your metals or you can use it to burn another person alive. You can’t perform evil on something evil. To use something in a selfish or evil way, it has to exist first. If we all think its ok to kill each other, then we wouldn’t consider murder as something evil. However, even if that’s the case, it still doesn’t take away that we have to exist to think or do those things and our very existence is in a small part the exact same Truth (which is also Beauty and Goodness) that God exemplifies in His nature. Taking the life of someone removes the potential for them to actualize their nature. You privatize the good of life when you kill someone. And the fact that we have an objective standard for Right and Wrong furthers this point. You couldn’t say that this or that is good or bad unless you have a standard by which you can judge it. And yes, I know that our standard of Good and Bad runs into gray areas, but that’s fine. That just means when you judge something, the sum won’t be 100% good or bad. It might be 55% good and 45% bad or any other ratio. We see this all the time in court cases where something bad like stealing is done for a good reason like hunger. But to even call something good or bad, there has to BE something making the judgement. We can all take the perspective of something that exists. That’s what it means to think objectively. To participate in thinking outside of particular views, biases, and perspectives. However, we all exist AS something, meaning we ALL have a general nature of our genus and a particular nature of species. I am a man but I am not a 75-year old man or a girl. No science could be done unless their is a standard by which you can judge the physical world around us. Its true that psychology is one branch of science and engineering is another, but to say they are 2 different things, there has to be an objective perspective to make the distinction. I think at this point I’m rambling and repeating but I hope I made my point. I’m not looking for a fight or troll or anything but I think its important to understand that we can participate in acquiring actual Absolute Truth since we are examples of it. Thanks again for an insightful post.
I understand and admire your take on the duality. But you cannot be “outside of the duality”, as you put it, everything is within the duality. The duality is two sides: relative and absolute (it covers everything). You cannot be outside of it.
You say there is inherent “good” and that it is a state within itself. I disagree. Good is a perception, there is no true Absolute Good. If there was who is it that can recognize it? Is it you? Are you our new prophet who can interpret Absolute Good? No, and neither am I. Your perception and idea of absolute good is another relative perception, another angle to view morality. It is a relative truth, one of the two sides of duality.
Absolute truth cannot be perceived because to see it we must be unbiased… and to be truly unbiased you need to see life and morality from my view, as well as your own, as well as from the next person’s, the homeless man’s, the rich man’s, the poor man’s… all possible views.
“God doesn’t participate in evil since He is all that is Good. He is all of existence. God participating in Evil would make him less than all benevolent which is contrary to the nature of God. A God that’s even a little evil is not worthy of truly being called God.”
Without evil there would be no concept of good. The old ways of viewing god as an all-loving being and pinnacle of “good” is outdated. At least, in my opinion. A true God perceives no morality. He is so infinite that all things are one: no bias, takes no sides. Life and Death become one in his/her/its perspective and evil and good are but human distinctions. When you say that “god” is only capable of “good” or that he/she is the zenith of good virtue, you are effectively romanticizing a concept of something that may or may not exist whatsoever.
If there is a true god, who is the ultimate form, he must not be split in a duality. He cannot merely represent the good, he must be all things so he is the devil as well.
Everything is duality. The universe IS duality…. something else I’ve always known also.. Perception is reality.. And ALL realities exist. They only exist in the now. What I perceive to be real, is not what anyone else could perceive as real, does not mean for one second that it’s not real. You make your own reality..believe it.
Exactly. But what’s real to you is only real to you. It is still very real and it means as much as the absolute truth, but regardless your “real” and my “real” are forever only relative truths.
Universe is duality: what’s real to you is as real as the ultimate truth. Two contradictory things that somehow unite cleanly together.
@egarim, I love love love this stuff.. if I told you the entire story of my spiritual awakening you would either wouldn’t believe me.. or would know EXACTLY what I am talking about. It’s a very very very strange story and I thought I was literally crazy for like 3 days.. I thought I was the reincarnation of jesus christ.. until I meditated, read..and researched until my eyes were basically dead.. I have awakened to the ‘solar consciousness’… I thought for 2 weeks I was nuts.. that I knew things that just weren’t possible.. that there is an endless web of knowledge that you just have to tap into and can access.. And one day my friend who has his masters in quantum physics listened to me speak about my awakening, and he told me that I have to accept the fact that I am as enlightened as Buddha.. and you know what my response was? “I know”… lol arrogant I know.. but it’s the truth. He then told me I had to love myself as a god and accept EVERYTHING I’ve ever done and be alright with it.. and I said.. “I have”.. I don’t where to even take this gift to help people.. but I know that I have the direction now… I get to choose which path I want to take. Loving every single day of my life since this has happened.
“Beyond these things we will be wise to scrutinize our perceptions, thoughts, and words of choice in the coming weeks. Second looks will be helpful and mysterious “glitches” of all sorts and flavor will become common. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself asking, “did I really just see that?”, “did I really just say that?”, or “did I really just type that?” If you do then you will know that life on Earth is as it is in Heaven. ”
@bearacleitus, The truth outside of Duality.. is you only have to play whatever part of that duality that you perceive yourself to be.. and since I know my part.. I am either neutral.. or radically good.. I don’t have a choice but to be anything but me. <3
“and he told me that I have to accept the fact that I am as enlightened as Buddha.. and you know what my response was? “I know”… lol arrogant I know.. but it’s the truth”
Buddhist enlightenment revolves around the idea that the world as it is is already perfect. That the enlightened make no changes in their lives because happiness is within. Common things are sacred, and sacred things are common. We are all Buddhas awaiting our awakenings: you do not need to be told that you have awakened if you have indeed awakened. As much as I admire your words, I must honestly say that you do not sound the least bit enlightened (but you seem to be very far on the path as you have understood your own ability to create your own reality). You are too excited, enlightenment isn’t a high pillar to stand on and look down on people. Buddhist enlightenment is shocking and humbling. It makes you appreciate your own suffering. I wish I could say I was enlightened but I am not yet. It’s a long path to walk and it only ends where you are ready.
“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water” – Zen Proverb
Enlightenment is merely a change in perspective.
@egarim, And that sir, was the last lesson I needed learned.. and I learned the hard way. I am excited.. and I wasn’t looking down on anyone at all.. I know it seems that way.. but my brain was not understanding how to deal with all this new information that was being “downloaded” so to speak.. and so I reacted with the ego, and tried to find outside explanation, when every answer is inside.. it just takes time and understanding. I apologize if it sounded like I was putting myself above anyone.. that’s not the case.. I just need a way to express the positivity that is coming from this.. and it needs to be put in my own expressions, not reached from someone else.. it has to be my own interpretation. =)
I am glad you have found your way and I hope you remain on this new found path without getting lost. I cannot say if you are anymore enlightened than you were yesterday, only you can know.
I will make no more judgments from here. I hope you do not regress (as I have many times as have many other people). Sometimes we walk in the right direction only to lead or be led astray.
@jjj333, @egarim, Ok. Just saying, nothing here is new and its all ideas that have been covered (and logically disproved) in history by people like Descartes, Kant, Hume, Hegel, and many others so while I know you guy think I’m full of shit, its cool. Also, jjj333 you had said something in another thread about religion. I couldn’t load my response at the time but here it is.
@jjj333, If you look into Christian Humanism and Buddhism (which is a philosophy but has religious features), you’ll see that it’s not all about control. If you want even more references to the logical grounding for Christian Humanism, check out St. Thomas Aquinas.
I never said you’re full of shit. The problem is you seek to be “right”. You are right if you yourself believe to be right. Fuck my opinion.
I am saying your truth is only a relative one. It is true for you. If you read my post you would understand that much. And my idea cannot be disproved… because my idea takes no sides. I am saying there is relative truth and absolute truth.
Nothing more. And please, you took offense to my words but I swear I meant no harm. In the end, all offense taken lies with you. You choose to be offended, you choose not to be.
There is no one else to blame. Words do as much damage as you allow them.
@egarim, Oh i read your post, but you, good sir, don’t seem to understand that this is something already gone over in history. As in, the people that came before us talked this subject over. And yes, we all DO have different perspectives but we all have to be on the same playing field to share in our different perspectives. As in, there has to be something (objective) that allows us to have and share different perspectives. If you actually read MY post, then you would see that we’re all looking for RIGHT (see what I did there?) answers. As in answers that are TRUE regardless of other perspectives. Your offering none of that or at least affirming that if it’s possible, we don’t have access to it.. I’m saying greater men have covered the issue already.
I did read your post. Your passion is bleeding through your words. Passion clouds judgment.
Please do try to understand what I am saying here:
“don’t seem to understand that this is something already gone over in history. As in, the people that came before us talked this subject over.”
This is very self-righteous. I don’t care how many times it’s been talked over. Science makes progress when new evidence is introduced and we REVISIT old conclusions. You make it sound as if since this has been “talked over” I am NOT allowed to argue against you. As if your words hold a “higher authority” because you deem it “true”. I don’t care if the most intelligent humans have discussed something over and over… we as intelligent beings are allowed to revisit things. Question everything. If we just accept things because other, possibly more intelligent individuals, have thought it over… we becomes mindless drones.
“As in answers that are TRUE regardless of other perspectives. ”
There is absolute truth as I have said. I do not disagree.
“I’m saying greater men have covered the issue already.”
This is subjective. I agree that there is an objective truth that we can possibly discern… but saying there is “greater men” is clearly related back to the concept of duality. With your attitude I should just throw my hands up and surrender. I choose to learn and question regardless of what these “great men” have thought.
I would like to think these great men would appreciate my capacity for questioning and learning more than your very passionate refute of my ideas and passionate acceptance of theirs. We must learn to question and hence we become great me ourselves. If we accepted the conclusions of the past like the “world is flat” or “flight is impossible” we would make no progress.
But I am going off topic. I appreciate your insightful thoughts.
@egarim, The feeling is mutual and I agree that we should continue to question and revisit subjects like this but where I’m coming off as arrogant (and I know that isn’t your word but I’m just trying to put myself in the worst perspective to hopefully redeem myself. If not, whateves), I’m making the point that as a principle, if it has any merit, it applies universally and historically, this has been something that comes up and doesn’t quite capture everything. If my relative “truth” is my opinion, then it is my opinion that this is something that has been settled fundamentally in the past. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine but knowing that we don’t have to struggle with duality makes it a lot easier to continue living. And I must say that out of all the people that I’ve encountered on this site, you sir are the most enjoyable so if my backhanded posts mean nothing else, I at the very least enjoyed your electronic company.
There is no need to redeem yourself. I enjoyed our discussion very much even though I feel as if we had multiple misunderstandings.
In all honesty, I believe deeply in the duality so your words made me think a lot about my own beliefs. Nothing is ever concrete for me: if over time I decide that your thoughts ring more true than we may have future discussions where we are on the same side. But for now, I admire your way of thinking (it is equally as viable as my own) but I remain a believer in the duality of the world.
” If my relative “truth” is my opinion, then it is my opinion that this is something that has been settled fundamentally in the past. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine but knowing that we don’t have to struggle with duality makes it a lot easier to continue living.”
I agree that without the duality our goals and sense of direction (in terms of learning and progressing our collective knowledge) would be more stable and efficient. We would be more accepting of the truths we learn as absolute rather than relative and that would allow much progress. But with the duality I feel that we can still learn but at least we can be humbled by the things we may never know (again, this is my opinion that the truly absolute may never be perceived through sense experience alone).
@egarim, its interesting that you bring up purely sense experience alone. I’ve been thinking Descartes problem over because he says the same thing. He can’t trust his senses so he tries to find an irrefutable principle and method by which he can figure out the rest of his life and help others. The problem is that since he negates sensory information as valid, he disconnects himself from the rest of the physical world. Fundamentally, it makes to avoid sensory error within a method you think will work for everyone but I think he neglects something vital within the senses. I’ve been knocking around a thought in my head for a little bit (couple days) that while you may be tricked by your senses, your senses are still picking up SOMETHING that exists. Your mind can trick you, yes, but it doesn’t trick you all the time. Whether your rationality is developed enough to properly interpret the sense is another thing all together but I think even if your senses get something wrong, their still telling you something. I still have to do more research and refinement on the idea but I think rationality is what need to be disciplined so that the senses are as accurate as possible. This is all for the most part common sense but the point I’m trying to address is that by perfecting rationality, you increase the potential and ability your senses have of picking up information that was previously undetectable. It’s like (and I know I’m treading dangerous territory) training yourself to see that which was previously unseen or hear that which could be heard before like infrared light or frequencies past 20 some thousand Hertz. I’m pretty sure someone has already brought something else similar, if not this idea, up and maybe you could even find it here. I just think that by this point in history, considering everything else that has come up, this is a potential direction humans could take. Now whether or not we’ll get there in this lifetime or ever is affected by many different factors (most of which I would like to alleviate) but I still think it would be an interesting path for humanity to take.