Reconciling Opposites

The mental consciousness which is generally predominant for human beings, tends to see things as distinct and separate and it thereby creates what are known as a play of “opposites” that are in conflict with one another. Whether it is the battle of the forces of Light and Darkness as described in some of the ancient religions, or the opposition of God and the Devil, Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, we find these distinctions throughout human history and in virtually all religious and philosophical traditions.

At the same time, we expect that one will “triumph” over the other and we develop concepts that imply that good can exist without evil, or that darkness may be banished forever. Others recognize that these pairs of opposites are somehow inextricably intertwined with one another and take the position that we can never have one without the other.

Some have recognized that what appears to us to be “evil” in many cases eventually yields “good”; and on the contrary, what is considered “good” may yield evil. The Chinese symbology of the yin/yang implies that light and dark are part of one larger inter-relationship and are contained within one another and move between each other.

One potential solution is to recognize that the opposites are actually complementary aspects or poles of one spectrum, and that another form of solution is possible whereby one transcends and embraces. Sri Aurobindo describes this approach: “And it is said too that on the other side of the human being and beyond its struggles is a serenity of the high and universal spirit where the soul transcends sin, but transcends also virtue, and neither sorrows nor repents nor asks ‘Why have I not done the good and wherefore have I done this which is evil?’ (Taittiriya Upanishad) because in it all things are perfect and to it all things are pure.”

Sri Aurobindo,, Section I, Chapter 9, Karma and Freedom pg. 75