For centuries, people have sought to understand the concept of duality, famously referred to as Yin and Yang in ancient Chinese philosophy, which states that duality can be found throughout nature in opposing forces such as night/day, up/down, hot/cold, life/death, etc. Despite appearing contradictory, duality plays a crucial role in maintaining equilibrium in life and the Universe at large.
Why is duality critical for balance in life?
Everything in life is made of opposing forces that work together to create balance. Without balance, the earth's ecosystems would collapse, and life, as we know it, would cease to exist. We see balance in the natural world through the water cycle, day and night, and the constricting and expanding of the lungs and heart. Therefore, balance is not only necessary but also essential for the survival of all living things.
However, as human beings, it seems we are always looking to separate ourselves from the rest of the universe. Our species has constructed, spread, and accepted an ignorant ideology that we are superior beings because we can reason. And yet, we are arguably the most destructive and unaware species on the planet—driven by a force that goes against the balance of nature, the ego.
How having only positive experiences leads to negative outcomes like entitlement, lack of purpose, or lethargy due to not having challenges to solve:
While it is human nature (ego) to seek out pleasure and avoid pain, it can be extremely detrimental in the long run. When we seek out pleasure and avoid pain, it can become detrimental in the long run. Positive experiences such as success, wealth, or comfort without challenge can lead to feelings of entitlement and a lack of purpose. Not being presented with challenging tasks that require us to use our creativity and problem-solving skills can lead to complacency and apathy. We also tend to take things for granted when everything is always good. This can result in a lack of compassion, empathy, and respect for other people's feelings and needs.
A common phenomenon with entrepreneurs who sell their business to go “live the good life” of relaxation and leisure often find themselves very quickly (within weeks or months) becoming restless and feeling unfulfilled. This highlights the significance of balance - avoiding overwork and complacency.
How can suffering lead to positive outcomes—IF we take advantage of it?
Accepting that suffering can lead to positive outcomes is hard for many people to grasp because we tend to live our lives through our ego, and the ego sees any discomfort as "bad" or "evil." We might think, “I must have done something wrong to deserve suffering,” instead of perceiving it as a teacher in life and, sometimes, even a gift. When we take the time to reflect on our suffering, it allows us to gain insight into ourselves and our lives.
Suffering forces us to grow and learn and builds resilience, or it can ‘break’ us if we choose to remain rigid and resistant instead. For instance, when we experience failure or when things do not go as planned, we can either learn valuable lessons that can help us to grow and become more aware and compassionate individuals, OR we can choose to blame others, pity ourselves, or become angry at our self-declared victimhood. If we experience pain, loss, or trauma, we can either allow that to foster empathy, compassion, and understanding for ourselves and others, or we choose to follow the bitterness of our ego and allow it to turn into resentment, envy, blame, and victimhood.
These experiences, as painful as they may have been, can help us appreciate life more, develop a greater sense of purpose, and be more compassionate towards ourselves and others who have experienced similar circumstances.
Duality and the Yin and Yang of life are a paradox. Still, they are critical in maintaining balance and harmony in life. By understanding them, we can better appreciate our successes and failures without attaching too much significance or meaning to either one. This allows us to remain grounded in the present moment, enjoying what life has to offer while also being prepared for any challenges that come our way. By having an open mind and heart to the ebbs and flows of life, we can find true balance and fulfillment in the journey.