Navigating the seas of duality

By Ashwin Jose

(Disclaimer: The contents of this article are based on personal opinion and philosophy. Accept what you can hold and discard the rest.)

This article was jostled by a deep conversation I had with a friend about conflicting ideologies and choosing a side. The concept of “either/or”

The human condition requires our mental makeup to choose between conflicting ideologies and positions.

The choosing a position would essentially put you in conflict with the other. (And if you do not naturally choose you fall into the other category by default.)

Is there a middle path? A way where the endless play of duality can be reconciled?

Duality is perceived to be at the core of all aspects of life. Here are some from an almost inexhaustible list.







Capitalism/Communism etc. etc. etc.

Is choosing a side the best option available for our growth and expansion as a human being? Will choosing a side essentially bring forth happiness, love, joy, reconciliation, service, contentment and bliss?

The obvious answer according to me is “NO”. It is this “us/them” mentality that is the root of a lot of dysfunction prevalent in our psyche and the external world.

It is important therefore to understand how the human psyche operates. The human being is characterized by its need to judge. To evaluate possibilities and choose internal and external stances which best serves the survival of the being and its identity.

All identity constructs require this constant evaluation of reality and choosing mental constructs that supports and validates the identity construct.

Judgment is essentially conflicting thought currents. It is the constant grappling with the reality “I” am experiencing and the reality “I” would like it to be. This “I” is identity constructed by multitudinous interpretations of reality based on the past.

There is an incessant feverish attempt of this “I” to generate worst-case scenarios in an attempt to protect itself. The way out of this cyclical world of “I” is the recognition that there is nothing to protect. The “I” is a construct and will pull all sorts of smoke and mirror games to prevent you from observing it.

The identity and the thoughts the “I” hold, as reality is merely an interpretation of life. Life is beyond explanation, and conceptions and any description of it falls short from the actual experience.

To be with it completely without judging it requires surrendering to existence. Surrendering to what is truly present — right now. Surrender does not mean submission but not being in resistance to what is arising due to the mismatch between internal expectations and external reality. Having a vision, striving for it and having indomitable faith that it will happen… also being being okay when all the striving does not produce expected results.

Bringing awareness to it and accepting what is present — helps one integrate and move past it.

Getting caught up on something happens when there is an incessant needs to be getting a “WHY?” from experiences. For instance, Why did _____(fill in the blank) happen to me!

Instead of Why, ask “WHAT?” What am I truly experiencing right now when I strip away all interpretations of it. What am I experiencing in the mind through the constant influx of thought, how is the body responding to this and what actions am I taking based on what I think and feel?

Most essentially — what am I not confronting right now? What will be available when I penetrate what I have been avoiding?

Acceptance involves surrendering to the present moment. A faith that what is present is perfect the way it is and the way its not. Experiencing the conflict, the ambivalence and bringing love and acceptance to it.

I feel love but I am selfish sometimes. I take risks in life yet I am petrified sometimes. I am responsible for my life, yet I act like a victim sometimes. The integration of these seemingly endless flavors of duality is our internal work.

Duality is essential in experiencing the physical dimension. Without pain, pleasure is not valued. Without experiencing turmoil, we would not sanctify peace. Seeing the results of hatred and selfishness brings us closer in love and acceptance.

Without the endless sea of duality, we would not be able to experience the unity that underlies all.


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