Caught in Opposites
The illusion at the root of our psychological suffering.
I am envious.
Someone got access to an opportunity I was working towards for a while now, and it just doesn’t feel fair.
Do they really deserve the role more than me?? No? You’re damn right they don’t! How on earth did things turn out this way? Why universe, why??
I step back.
I say to myself that this envy isn’t healthy. That it’s wrong. That I ought not to be envious. That it goes nowhere. That it only causes harm and distress.
In judging my envy, I look to the opposite of envy—A state of mind that is not envious.
Of course, this idealised state of non-envious being isn’t currently present. It's a thought. An image. A concept. A story about how I should be, which is different to how I actually am.
AN OPPOSITE CREATES ITS OWN OPPOSITE
Okay… this is where things get tricky to explain, so bear with me.
That opposite I have constructed—the image of being non-envious—of being free of envy—it must have its own opposite. An opposite which is NOT the state I am in right now. Yet without awareness, this opposing opposite sneaks in front of experience and becomes a story of what I am. It’s a story of lack. Of partiality. Of incompleteness.
I am a puzzle missing a piece.
I then need to deliberately move towards some constructed ideal that has this missing piece in place— a state of mind where I am not envious.
Do you see the confusion that opposites create?
Feel into it.
There is no way to appropriately communicate how important this realisation is. It is worth taking the time to fully understand, I promise you.
Okay, so again... I am feeling envious, and instead of being with that envy, my mind constructs an opposite. An ideal. A state of being that I am not in right now.
And, in order for that opposite to exist, it must have its OWN opposite… which is envy!
BUT that envy is not the true feeling of envy I am currently experiencing—it is a conceptual outcome of wanting to not be envious.
OPPOSITES ARE THE ROOT OF ILLUSION
Careful observation of opposites reveals the fact that they do not exist anywhere outside the conceptual mind. They are what give birth to illusion. To Maya. To falsity. There is no true opposite to what you are currently experiencing.
But we live in opposites because we live in thought. We live in mind. The habit of thinking runs deep, and this habit runs the show for most of us, most of the time.
The problem is that as long as we live in opposites, there must exist a constant duality. Comparison. A conflict between what we want to become and what ‘we think’ we are now—which again is just an illusion born out of that need to become something we are currently not...
Living in this illusion of duality, comparison and conflict, we invite in psychological suffering and the suffocating belief that the present moment should be any different from the way it is.
And the more we suffer, the more we think that the way out is through pulling ourselves towards a constructed image of what we are currently not. This feeds the cycle and affirms the belief that the thinking mind is the way out of our sorrows, our confusions, our inner conflict.
God, it is a poisonous game once you see it.
“Neither knowledge not ignorance is real; what lies beyond them, as beyond all other pairs of opposites, is the reality.” ~ Ramana Maharshi
In understanding that opposites are nothing more than the movement of thought, you will see what all the saints, spiritual teachers and mystics throughout history were on about when they spoke of our true nature as having no opposite.
The meeting point of Atman and Brahman. The non-dual. The uncarved block. The Dao. Aikyam. All!
It is what Jiddu Krishnamurti was on about when he spoke of freedom as a choiceless awareness:
“Freedom is not the opposite of slavery. Freedom is an ending, not giving continuity to what has been. Freedom, in itself, has no opposite.”
It is what Eckart Tolle often points to in his description of true love:
“True love has no opposite. If your “love” has an opposite, then it is not love but a strong ego-need for a more complete and deeper sense of self, a need that the other person temporarily meets.”
It is what Rupert Spira is describing when he talks about the essence of happiness:
“Happiness is simply to allow everything to be exactly as it is from moment to moment.
To be beyond opposites is to be fully attentive to whatever is with me right now. The thoughts, the feelings, the perceptions, the sensations, the actions, all of it. To not judge them as good or bad, better or worse, inside or outside, mine or others.
If I feel envy, then I feel envy. Let me open up and hold it fully with great sensitivity. Let me be with the feelings. Learn with them while they are here. And if it all gets too difficult, too uncomfortable, too heavy, and I feel myself wanting to blow my top or seek shelter from the storm, let me be with that too.
In moving with the flow of things as they are, there is an unravelling of the oughts, opposites and the need to become. An indeliberate letting go. A meditative state. A unity. A place where nothing is everything, and everything is in harmony.
Share the love: If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing or forwarding it to family members, friends and colleagues. Are you that family member, friend or colleague? You can sign up for free here.
Let’s start a conversation: If you have any questions or thoughts on the content discussed in this post, let’s start a conversation. If you’re in your inbox, you can reply directly to this email. If you are on the Substack post, you can add a comment below.