It has been known and stated for at least two and a half millennia that the impulsive desire to seek for that which is unavailable and the instinctual desire to avoid that which is unavoidable is the continuous source of human suffering.
Like the search for monopoles within a magnet of any magnitude, our impulsive search for a one-sided reality or outcome will become a lesson in utter futility, for freedom is equally and simultaneously paired with constraint, and reward with the price of service.
“Equanimity within and equity without is nature’s way of calling us to expanded greatness.”
Equanimity within and equity without is nature’s way of calling us to expanded greatness. But, to inwardly appreciate the necessity of all such complementary pairs of opposites is to liberate us from constraints of our id and animal-like behavior. From the ancient teachings of the Buddha to the more recent transcendental principles of Ralph Waldo Emerson, this compensatory message has been sustained in the minds and hearts of the wise men and women for centuries.
Just as our genetic code consists of complementary opposite strands of gendered DNA to carry out our embryonic development from our single cell beginnings to our many specialized cells today, and just as our physical body demands an autonomic and metabolic balance of anabolism and catabolism as well as mitosis and apoptosis to continue to evolve, adapt and grow, so, too, do our lives require the pairs of complementary opposites to continue to achieve and fulfill our most meaningful aims.
Within each of us is a yearning to make a difference and to contribute to the world in our own unique way while fulfilling some meaningful cause that inspires us to some level of greatness. In pursuit of this unique mission, we repeatedly become confronted by various pairs of complementary opposites, living within us and existing around us, whether they be the pairs of support and challenge, ease and difficulty, pleasure and pain, or the labels of hero or villain, good or bad, and virtuous or vicious, each pair becomes our essential and constant companion along our journey of transformation and achievement.
“It is wiser to embrace life for the true and balanced magnificence that it offers than to strive for a fantasy of what it idealistically should be.”
When we live congruently with our most important values and highest priorities and are therefore purposeful, mindful and resilient, such complementary opposites are recognized and wisely viewed as our essential and synchronous companions. We embrace them wholeheartedly and see them as our feedback loops to authenticity and continuous concentric expansion. When we are feeling impulsive and polarized, we view these pairs as sources of frustration and angst. We are constantly being lead to appreciate the complementary pairs within and around us.
From the pairs of opposites in business management of over-worker and under-worker and the empowered and entitled employees to the pairs existing within family, social and economic dynamics, these complementary opposites reign true to our daily and living existence. Whether they be the nomadic wanderer and traveler and the homebound, the risking ambitious and the overcautious, or the extrovert and the introvert, these pairs keep our journey inspiring and enlivening. Maximum growth and development occurs at the border of order and disorder, and the boundary of any such pair of opposites. The more we seek the one side within the pair, the more the other finds and follows us. If we seek control, we find ourselves in events that curiously overwhelm us. Just as we do not need to get rid of half of our lives to be fulfilled, so to we do not need to get rid of one side of life’s balanced equation to fulfill our most meaningful aims. Our purpose calls us beyond the pairs into greater and integrated actions more than reactions, and wisdom more than illusive folly.
Maybe it is wise for us all to reflect deeply upon the synthesis and synchronicity of all complementary opposites that continuously provide us with our inspiring existence. Love has been considered just such an integrated pair and when we awaken to its presence within, we feel grateful for the day. Could the very message that our intuition is forever revealing to us be this essential balance and symmetry of nature? When we are up, our intuition attempts to awaken us to the downsides; when we are down, it nudges at us to look upward. When we listen wisely, it brings us to the truth of the center where we are neither proud, nor shamed, only inspired and our most authentic selves.
Yes, it is these many pairs of complementary opposites that turn ordinary individuals into managing leaders and our degrees of ignorance into profound wisdom. The admonition of the heart and the inner and outer balance that permeates and surrounds us is guiding us to our true and most profound awareness and achievements. It is the marriage of opposites that make the forces of conscious evolution work. Without them, we would strive for the illusion of monopolar existences, which would split us up into dissociated parts that disempower our objectives. Our extreme bipolar conditions are due to such monopolar addictions. By embracing the two sides of life equally and at once, we can transcend the prey seeking and predator, avoiding the animal nature that lies reactive within, and enlighten our pathway with the resilient path of wholeness and stillness. All areas of our lives then become enriched by such states of being and doing.
“Of all relations, the most universal is that of contrast of opposition. Every condition of thought or of things — every idea and every situation in the world — leads irresistibly to its opposite, and then unites with it to form a higher or more complex whole . . . The movement of evolution is a continuous development of oppositions and their merging and reconciliation . . . Thesis, antithesis and synthesis constitute the formula and secret of all development and all reality.”
It is wiser to embrace life for the true and balanced magnificence that it offers than to strive for a fantasy of what it idealistically should be. It is our unrealistic expectations that breed our depressions and it is our philias that bring about our phobias. Homeostasis is the great calling within. So, may we become fully aware of the freedom that our complementary pairs of opposites bring us, and may we continually honor such evolving pairs from within ourselves and all others.