II  THE LAW OF THE PROGRESSION OF CONTRARIES

 

 

This traditional yin\yang symbol represents complementarity, male/female, in/out, joy/woe, ebb/flow… When the formless void takes on form, it always does so by creating balanced contraries.  These contraries are intertwined and some of each is embedded in its opposite, ad infinitum.

 

This world progresses by the interplay of contraries.  Without contraries is no progression.  Male and female, interacting as equal but opposite, constitute the dynamics of life, intertwined strands of DNA.  In the physics of cosmology, energy and matter flow and interplay. 

 

When the universe began in a blast of energy, pure light from the vacuum, it eventually separated into particles, divided into precisely equal parts of matter and antimatter, ‘congeners,’ born together.

 

There is another ‘world,’ the world of abstractions, where things have no contraries, absolutes such as aesthetics, algorithms, archetypes, certainties, essences, ethics, experiences, humanity, ideals, laws, logic, love, mathematics, and proofs. 

 

These absolutes have negations, but a negation is not a contrary.  A negation is rather an absence of something.  We need the dark along with the light to make a picture.  Painting, photography and music are arts of light and shadow. 

 

The universe is 99.999% dark, with only a few hundred billion galaxies twinkling here and there, mere points of light on a pure black velvet background.  For every yin we need a yang. Nature must love the dark, she made so much of it!

 

The process of the philosopher Hegel is based on this principle – thesis, antithesis, and then synthesis – female, the male, then baby (synthesis).  Biology is based on it.  “It takes three to make a child.” – cummings


An interesting set of contraries can be formed from Western and Eastern concepts of self:

 

                                        EGO        ANATTA

            The social self of Freud           ‘no self’ of Buddha

 

                              abstract           particular

                                     accident           synchronicity

                                   ambiance           events, scintillae

                                  categories           not-two  /  advaita

                                        charity           goodness

                                         chaos           order

                                     compete           synergy

                                  competent           passionate

                                     complex           simple

                                 conditional           un-conditional

                 (as in healing)           (as in grace)

                                 conforming           creating

                                   consistent           paradoxical

                                  continuous           episodic

                                        diction           notion

                                   document           myth

                                       dogma           flow

                                        drama           emblem

                  earthy colors (Blake)           clear (LaTour)

                                   education           learning

                                                        ego           id

                                                  essence           actual

                         excluded middle           four logic

                                                        fact           truth

                                                      fancy           plain

                                           finite           infinite

                                     formulas           principles

                                          fuzzy           crystalline

                                       general           particular

                                      glamour           beauty

                                             ice           fire

                             indeterminacy           proof

                         karma(memory)           dharma (inspiration)

                                 knowledge           wisdom

                                           local           non-local

                                           love           romance

                                      material           spiritual

                                        mercy           grace

                                   metaphor           idea

                                         moral           loving kindness

                          mundane world           Pure Land

                                        muzak           toccata and fugue

                                 nomothetic           idiographic

                                    objective           subjective

                                   observing           experiencing

                                    orthodox           heterodox

                         people are equal           no two are alike

                                     personal           entangled

                                photograph           snapshot

                              pornography           eros

                                professional           amateur / folk

                                         prose           poetry

                                                   rational           intuitive

                         rational numbers           irrational (i, e, p)

                                      reactive           pro-active

                                        reason           intuition

                                    reflective           luminous

                                     religious           gnostic

                                     schedule           rhythm

                                       smooth           grainy

                                         social           individual

                               store bought           home made

                                      survival           eternal

                                   sympathy           empathy

                                         trial and error           certainty

 

Each attribute is in harmony and in balance with its complement, each is in proportion to the other.  [For developing my concept of anatta, thanks to my friend David Galin for many long, pleasant and fruitful conversations.]

 

Some of these dichotomies may seem to be reversed.  One might ask several questions, such as:

Isn’t the ego mind more particular, rather than abstract or general, and so thinks in terms of my good rather than the good of all?

 

I see it just the other way around.  Ego is concerned with others.  ‘How will others see me?’  ‘How will I relate to others?’  ‘What is my self image?’  Ego is self conscious.  ‘Anatta mind’ is experiential, in the moment, Zen mind, without regard to any considerations of any sort.  Ego self is a social overlay.  Anatta is pure being, just awareness.  Annata is the most particular because it exists only in this moment!

 

Ego, as used by most folks, seems to have a bad connotation, but it actually has as much good in it as bad.  Charity and loving kindness come from ego.  Impulse comes from anatta.

 

And certainly the ego mind does not see all people as equal. It is my ego mind that sees differences, that sees me as better than someone or allows me to have an inferiority complex or to have a lack of self esteem.

 

I agree.  The ego does make differentiations.  You can (will) overestimate yourself and underestimate yourself, both at the same time.  (Both cases will turn out to be wrong!)  But it is a perception based on ‘other.’ Anatta has no sense of ‘other.’ At the anatta level, you and the world are one.

 

‘Love’ and ‘romance’ should also be switched, shouldn’t they?

No, romance is carefully in the anatta column, in the experiential side.  Love is the substrate that holds the universe together.  ‘Love thy neighbor,’ a feeling that applies to the whole world.  Romance is in the moment, where you are caught up in the experience of cosmic beauty and ‘rightness.’

 

And ‘essence’ and ‘actual?’

I think they are in the right place.  Essence is the integral of all experience – from you and others.  Society knows the essential pine tree.  Botanists write monographs about pine trees, as abstractions.  You will never find one!  Your anatta experiences the particular ‘actual’ pine tree, not the abstraction.  You are facing this pine, just now, just here.

 

The synthesis of these two opposing columns is summarized in the ancient Vedic wisdom Advaita Vedanta, the perfection of wisdom by the principle of ‘not-two, and in the Sutra of the Third Patriarch, Seng Ts’an.  Heaven and earth are not two.  I and thou are not-two.

 

In the Gospel of Thomas –

 “Jesus said to them ‘When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the primordial state of perfection]. – Thomas 22:4-7

 

And perhaps e. e. cummings says it best in his sonnet –

 

one’s not half two.  It’s two are halves of one:

which halves reintegrating, shall occur

no death and any quantity; but than

all numerable mosts the actual more

 

minds ignorant of stern miraculous this every truth

beware of heartless them

(given the scalpel, they dissect a kiss;

or, sold the reason, they undream a dream)

 

one is the song which fiends and angels sing;

all murdering lies by mortals told make two.

Let liars wilt, repaying life they’re loaned;

We (by a gift called dying born) must grow

 

deep in dark least ourselves remembering

love only rides his year.

         All lose, whole find

 


 

 


Cosmic Law Home Page  
How This Book Came to Be III   The Law of Concealment VII  The Law of Dissolution
Introduction IV   The Law of Revelation VIII The Law of Return
I    The Law of Nothingness V    The Law of Emanation Epistemology
II   The Law of the Progression of Contraries VI   The Law of Sustenance Bibliography
     
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