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Duality: What It Is and Why It's Essential to Appreciate Life

Duality refers to two sides of the same coin. If people stretch their imagination sideways regarding anything, they will find advantages and disadvantages. Anything can suffice, but to use democracy as an example, with one hand, it extends freedom and, with the other, takes it away subject to circumstances and human conduct. In this manner, duality represents a discernable fact of life.

One importance of duality is protecting our mental health. People who understand duality can’t be affected by the praises and criticisms of others as they know that there will always be people affected positively and negatively by their conduct. They will unlikely develop neither pride nor self-pity and maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul balance.

Duality is also key to living harmoniously. Once you’ve established that everything in life exists on a continuum with opposite extremes, you have a bird-eye view with which to move appropriately. Understanding duality prepares you for uncertainties because, in any situation, you are alive to the possibility of the opposite happening and can adjust your conduct to prevent fallout.

As we know, the lotus is born in muddy water. Here, the lotus represents happiness, whereas the muddy water represents the state of suffering. With this beautiful metaphor, life teaches us how we need to be in darkness to welcome a glorious daybreak. I have been there; thus, I know how it feels to dwell in sorrow for a long time. Everything seems aimless, and life becomes a never-ending struggle. But the moment I realized the hidden messages within my suffering, I started believing that this suffering is nothing but the process of discovering the extraordinary power in me and unlocking the door to miracles of the universe. The nightmare gifted me a new dawn, and thus I found my purpose in life. I believe in the duality of life because I have realized that you need darkness to shine brighter with your own light.

Duality is a concept that illustrates that balance is experienced between two opposing forces. Too much of one breaks the balance, just as the absence of one breaks the balance. This concept teaches that understanding and appreciation of anything (life, nature, etc.) are never complete till the two sides of the proverbial coin and the synergy between their relationship is understood.

Duality is experienced in everyday life. For example, no one would be truly rich or poor if everyone had the same level of wealth, and peace would never be appreciated if wars never existed. Nothing will be valuable if there is nothing to compare its value to.

People often pray, wish, or hope for the best outcome in any situation, but they can only do so because they have either seen, experienced, or heard what the alternative is like. In general, only the elderly appreciate youth, and rarely do we consider good health a blessing until we are ill or bedridden. Just as no one can be happy if they have never experienced a sad moment. The good moments would just be, without holding any value, and would never be appreciated. The bad memories make the good ones appealing, while the good memories make the bad ones appalling.


There is a great deal of symmetry in the universe. For example, an atom's number of protons and neutrons are always equal. This balance is also seen in the rhythms of our lives. We experience light and dark, birth and death, joy and sadness. This balance, called duality, is one of the most important aspects of life.

Too much of one thing can be harmful. Too much light can blind us, too much heat can scorch us, and too much love can suffocate us. We need the darkness to rest, the cold to keep us healthy, and space to breathe. The same is true for emotions. We need sadness to appreciate happiness, anger to appreciate peace, and fear to appreciate safety.

These two extremes create a spectrum that allows us to experience life fully. Duality teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. It helps us to understand that everything has a price, that nothing is perfect, and that change is inevitable. Without it, life would be dull and one-dimensional.

A key concept I learned about dealing with duality is “Both/And” thinking. Our society is caught in a cultural divide, and we generally only hear one side of an argument.

Jonathan Haidt says that when we don’t consider the other side, we become stupid – literally, we lower our IQ.

That means we don’t consider that there are kernels of truth in what the other side has to say. But both sides have some truth in them, and if you can take both sides into account, you can help bridge the divide, become smarter, and help to solve wicked problems.

Another way to say it is that you can have a thesis but examine what the other person has to say (antithesis), then you can synthesize the two (or more) viewpoints into a view that more closely represents reality.


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