In the dual realm we are constantly confronted and often challenged by opposites. In the physical world we have the obvious two sides of the coin: night and day, hot and cold, in and out, up and down. We generally relate to these on a practical level. On the psychological side of things we have joy and sorrow, love and hate, peace and anger, hope and despair, good and bad.
But the biggest of all the opposites, the one that is at the root of most psychological suffering, including depression, addiction, and failed relationships, and often, in turn, the cause of much physical suffering, such as all forms of abuse, war, and terrorism, is the notion of self and other – that there is an individual self ‘in here’ relating to a world of others and things ‘out there’.
We have been conditioned to identify with ourselves as the center of attention, as the subject, with the world outside the object of our attention – self and other. This is an entirely false view of reality – there is no self and there is no other. If this is understood, all resistance, animosity, tension, jealousy, fear, and anxiety falls away and in their place stand compassion, acceptance, relaxation, and all-embracing love.
To investigate this relationship closely, assume your well-known and felt position as an individual self, or subject, and simply look at someone else. You look upon them as an other, an object of your senses. You see yourself and you see them as other than yourself. Now turn it around and realize that from their point of view, they are now the subject, or self, looking upon you as their object, or other.
Self, subject, becomes other, object.
Other, object, becomes self, subject.
Both everywhere and nowhere.
Therefore, I am self and other – a mirror looking in a mirror.
A reflection reflecting its reflection.
If we are both self and other, where can we possibly look to find the real us?
At the convergence of everywhere and nowhere.
The instant these two placeless places collide, the mirrors shatter, reflections scatter, the universe sighs, and our true nature is revealed as . . .
As Wei Wu Wei so eloquently and concisely puts it:
Having found no self that is not other,
The seeker must find that there is no other that is not self,
So that in the absence of both self and other,
There may be known the perfect peace,
Of the presence of absolute absence.