Life evolved to perceive its surroundings in a way that promotes survival in a competitive environment. In animals with a nervous system, neurons fire on – off. Given this, it is not surprising we see reality in an on – off light. This on – off process influences how humans label their perceptions: good – bad, yin – yang, life – death, active – passive, go – stop, hot – cold, up – down, before – after, hard – soft, heaven – hell, male – female, and what have you.
This dynamic dipolar perception is essential for survival in the wild. It boils choices down to the simplest level — yes or no. The human ability to think and remember makes this both a blessing and a curse. Chapter 1’s, These two are the same coming out, yet differ in name hints at the curse. Not only do we see things with a ‘yin yangy’ falsely named simplicity, our dipolar memories nag our moment-to-moment awareness constantly. For us, dipolar perception hinders feeling “these two are the same” aspect.
A view of Oneness informs the core of most religions, even though each expresses it differently. The funny thing is, even this Meta view (1) of a Oneness versus the many or what have you, arises out of the brains dipolar perception. This feels like a house of mirrors. Watching moment-to-moment is the only way to Use the light, But give up the discernment, as chapter 52’s advises. Chapter 56 adds, Block the openings; Shut the doors. Blunt the sharpness; Untangle the knots; Soften the glare. Eventually, all that is left is a nameless, wordless ‘light’ of consciousness — This is known as following the constant as chapter 52 puts it.
Here ‘oneness’ and ‘many’ blend like so much dust. When you don’t define what is, you perceive the ‘original’, not the dipolar labeled copy. The more literal Word for Word Chapter 56 puts it this way:
Knowing not speak; speaking not know. — 知者不言. 言者不知.
Subdue its sharpness, untie its tangles, — 挫其锐, 解其纷,
Soften its brightness, be the same as dust, — 和其光, 同其尘,
This is called profound sameness. — 是谓玄同.
‘Profound sameness’ is simply an attempt to describe how the non-dipolar ‘original’ feels. This description can serve as your ‘canary in the coal mine’ of your mind. When we see differences, we know we are seeing an illusion projected by our dipolar perception and narrow self-interests. When we see similarities, we know we are seeing more of the ‘bigger picture… nearly rising beyond oneself as chapter 16 says. Certainly, we can’t help feeling a dipolar reality; the trick is to resist thinking and believing that reality is dipolar.
On a personal note:
I was dumbfounded when my brother died in the early 60’s. His death made death real for the first time in my life. This caused a life versus death quandary that occupied my every waking moment for months. Why, what, how was life and death? One day, sitting on the bus coming home from work it struck me that life and death were two sides of the same reality. Later, I came across the Tao Te Ching which stated in chapter one, “these two are the same but diverge in name as they issue forth“. I was hooked. A dozen years past before I could write anything to reflect this experience. Speaking about ‘it’ took the form of me being a devil’s advocate on everything. Every issue had its dipolar twin.
In the early 80’s I really found myself in a quandary again. I don’t exactly know why, although I suspect it was linked to my initial quandary. Realizing that life and death were the same never really solved my original quandary; it just took much of the steam out of my overwhelming puzzlement. I now needed to see ‘reality’ from a pre yin-yang perspective. This drove me to work out a ‘correlations’ process as a practical way to return my mind to a pre “but diverge in name as they issue forth” point of view. It worked so well that within six months it had blown apart every cherished bias I held. I couldn’t take sides.
I couldn’t understand why this process appealed to practically no one for quite a while. Then it dawned on me, we are most attracted to that which support our preconceptions, beliefs, and biases, not to something that blows them apart. That is precisely the main effect of correlations – they weaken word meaning and thus any subsequent biases and beliefs that depend on dependable word meaning.
This brings me to wonder why I post my observations and links to the Tao Te Ching and the correlation process. It is a futile undertaking after all. I assume the social instinct drives me to communicate and to help others to soften the glare of distinctions — the futility of it notwithstanding. Just call me Don Quixote!
(1) Meta view: Meta (from Greek: “after”, “beyond”, “with”) is a prefix used in English to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.
I am using this term to indicate the idea of stepping outside the box, to step outside the box, to step outside the box… ad infinitum… to see the box (the view “beyond” the view). In this vein, I imagine a Meta view of balance must include imbalance as integral to ‘perfect’ balance. Imbalance ‘balances’ balance. Seen together, balance and imbalance compose an all-inclusive whole. Thus, whether I’m balanced or imbalanced makes no difference for I will need one or the other to counterbalance circumstances. I suppose that explains why nothing ever resolves itself. If it did, the universe would end… or begin. Poof!