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Peace and polarity

We live in a world of opposites. Black and white, male and female, hot and cold, yes and no.

And then there are the secondary opposites such as here and there, now and then, me and you.

Opposites seem to have a love-hate relationship, for they seek each other, find themselves oppositional and then isolate or dominate. Sometimes they idolize the other, sometimes they demonize the other, and sometimes they are completely indifferent to one another.

When opposites can see each other as polarities, they are taking a step forward in awareness. Then they seem to be complementary rather than oppositional, and they seek each other all the more in the hopes of completing themselves, and yet the other also feels foreign. Even when they come into a sense of balance, they want to hold on to a perfection that never stays. Then the whole matter might be questioned and dismissed as an illusion.

The polarities can come to see a bit of themselves in the other, and a bit of the other in themselves. This is represented in the tai chi symbol in which yin and yang contain some of the other within themselves. Now there is more balance in the dynamic imbalance.

But we will never find the peace we want on the level of polarity. Polarity is itself in polarity with the non-polar, better known as the nondual. Yin and yang, after seeking each other endlessly around and around, come to awaken to the Tao, the circle or context in which they were held and in which they arise eternally. The peace is in the Tao, and then the dynamic peace is found in polarity when it is held within the awareness of the nondual.

Becoming more deeply present with polarity, going beyond knowing them as polarity, you can awaken to their nondual context. A simple way of experiencing this is to come eye-to-eye with another, not in the context of something else, not in passing, but just being present with the experience. You will be aware of another, and yet you might also become aware of the nondual context, as the being or presence within which both are.

Becoming aware of the nondual context, you are implicitly aware that it did not arise through the polarity, or as a result of an exercise or experience. You are aware that it always was, always is, as the presence that is, always already. You can close your eyes and rest in the prior presence, in the being that is.

Then when you open your eyes, the context does not disappear. You are still aware of the polarity, and you are also aware of that from which the polarities arose. You might be aware of yourself and the other as unique expressions of that ground. The two are expressions of the one.

Now instead of opening to the nonpolar through polarity, you can open to polarity through the nondual context. You can be aware of the nondual in itself, as well as the nondual in expression. Each alone is incomplete, and together they seem to be a polarity in a way greater than yin and yang.

Most people explore the world of polarity and do their best to live their lives in it. They seek their dreams of love and peace within it, and that is what they are — dreams. They think they will realize their dreams by landing them in physical reality, with the job, the home, the partner, and so on. They are not mere illusions, they are props through which we have experiences and develop qualities of character. It is a way in which consciousness evolves.

Another way is to explore the world of polarity through the nonpolar context. Find the peace that is always already and explore that within the realm of polarity. The nondual does not eradicate polarity but generates it, evolves it, harmonizes it. The nondual is the nonduel, which is peace.

That is the mystery, the play of exploring the formless in form, the timeless in time, the perfect in imperfection, the nondual in polarity. What sort of world might that create?

Ed Hirsch conducts free, drop-in weekly groups in The Practice of Presence at a local Ashland residence. Contact him at presenceofone@yahoo.com for information.