Archive for November, 2011

 three

Here, I will share my conceptual outlook at the numbers One, Two and Three.

To understand that well you will need the foundation built in the two previous posts, one on Polarity and the other one on the Principle of Rhythm. Please read them first.

Imagine you are the only Being that exists.
There is you and nothing else.
It is a likely boring existence.

Say, you are a cell in the World which is the cell itself.

You are the White on the White canvas, including the canvas as well.

You are both a Thought and a Thinker of that Thought.

Anywhere you reach, through the medium of yourself, of course, there is only you. In fact, you are a Presence permeating yourself.

You are.

You cannot discriminate because there is only one Sameness expressed in what there is. There is no Difference yet.

The concept of One is Totality

You can also perceive One as Unity, or Sameness.

Metaphorically, you can understand One as God. You may also consider One as the Whole universe, or total Power.

Or, you perhaps remember your experience of One when you were a fetus developing in your mother’s womb for whom everything was a complete Whole. Even though you might have explored the boundaries of Self, there was no reference for you to understand what they were, simply because you had no experience of the outside. For you the boundaries was also the Self.

Totality may be both, the Conscious Presence such as Active Intent or the Unconscious Presence such as a Potential or Power to be exercised. In both cases, Totality is the Essence from which everything originates.

If Totality is unconscious it expands by practising the basic awareness until it develops the intent to think.  Thanks to this intent it will develop further on until it will become conscious. At this point, Totality will possibly become bored by being so same, homogeneous and All that is.

Totality will want to make a further progress by discriminating a part of itself. It may distinguish an aspect of Self from the rest, or it may distinguishes an aspect, such as Love, Sound or Matter.  By doing so, everything but this aspect will become distinguishable as well.

Polarity is born.

The concept of Two is Polarity

You can also perceive Two as Duality or Difference.

The act of bringing one aspect forward is the act of setting everything else in the background. It is the same as naming a feature or characteristic. It allows us to recognize it and distinguish from the other things.

Metaphorically, you can understand Two as God who establishes a companion for His higher feelings when he discriminates into the Loving Father and the beloved Son. Or you may consider Two as the Universe which becomes both Matter and Spirit. Or, perhaps you experience Two as being a child born to the World.

As such, Two is experienced when an opening is created or a difference is to be emphasized. It does not provide an interesting diversity as such. Although the task of Two is to notice the differences, their integration is difficult as it requires an extra step.

It is the movement between the polarities that gives the basic structure to our existence. You can think of it as of the swing between the opposites or,  you can perceive it as a threshold experience when you move from one polarity to another. Duality through action gives birth to Three.

The concept of Three is Active Diversity

You can also say Creativity.

It is both the action and the expression of a state between the polarities.

Metaphorically, you may consider Three as God who becomes Trinity. Holy Spirit is now introduced as the Active Person expressing Love between the Father and the Son. You may also consider Three as an Intent and/or Active Consciousness to move between levels from the Material to Spiritual Worlds. Or, you experience Three as a child interacting and playing in the outside world.

Three is an interesting phenomenon. Two expresses duality, polarity or difference. It is often passive. Three comes into existence through the act of interaction between the Two.

Three is something that is being created when the Two opposites become involved and act.

Three describes Stability

Three is a powerful concept. Three reflects not only diversity, but also stability and support.

A triangle is created by three sides and is the most basic geometric figure.
A three-legged chair is going to work well, while a stable two legged chair is impossible.
Three dimensions support the existence of life and complex systems.

The meeting point

Three is an expression of diversity. Three is an expression of novelty and creativity. Three is a direction.

Birth, life and death.
Past, present and future.
Beginning, middle and end.
Positive, neutral and negative.

Three allows us to introduce a meeting point, or a place in between. It can be the moment of Now being experienced between past and future. It can be the flow between beginning and end. Or it can be intuition arising as a creative act between emotions and rational thought.

Three simply allows us to experience the middle or in-between.

Three is completeness

Once you start paying attention, you will find triads or triplets cropping up everywhere – in language, in myths, in fairy tales, in Scripture, in culture and in society.

Three people are seen as suitable to make decisions, because they will have enough diversity to cover different points of views and when necessary to apply the majority vote. Three people are enough to form boards, commissions or crowds. Even statistics likes to see “three” as a container for “many”.

Not surprisingly, many laws, rules or ideas come in triads. Just to mention three laws of thermodynamics, the motto of France: liberty, equality, fraternity or the motto of Poland: God, honor and fatherland, or three virtues: faith, hope and love.

Many things in writing or storytelling are structured in threes. There are sayings or curses that have to be repeated 3 times before they become active. There are three trials to achieve a certain goal. There are three wishes to be granted. There also also three days or nights for an event or transformation to take place.

Examples of triads in stories include Three Wise Monkeys, Three Little Pigs, Three Musketeers, or Three Bears. In fairy tales there are usually three brothers, sons of a peasant or three daughters of a king. Two are often either stupid (boys) or ugly (girls), while one is smart / beautiful. And it is the third one that makes a difference: he will endure many tests to have finally become a new king or she will go through trials to be finally married by a Lovely Prince.

Summary

Three can be perceived in multiple ways. It can be a threshold experience between the Two polarities, a meeting point, or a new creation by the interaction of Two. Such a creation bears characteristics different than its ingredients, similarly as water is something completely novel in comparison to both oxygen and hydrogen.

Three offers a high-level synthesis, not by summing the Two components but by creatively designing something new. Three doesn’t negate polarity. Rather it accepts duality and represents a new element arising from the action between the opposites. And in this way, Three enables us to transcend duality.

Three is an experience of consciousness.

***

Photo credit CLeopold73 available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

***

Other posts on consciousness:

pendulum_rhythm

Up and Down.
Left and Right.
Forward and Backward.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
An everlasting swing between the two opposite patterns.

Rhythm.
The basic principle that governs our lives.
Yes. Rhythm.

Not only is the existence of two opposites important, but also the act of moving between them. We can experience a flow between Day and Night, Inbreath and Outbreath, Giving and Receiving, or Rise and Fall.

Have you ever wondered why you need some rest after a hard work?
Exactly. This is the principle of rhythm.

The principle of rhythm

You cannot go against it even if you try hard. Pushing too much towards one polarity will ultimately force you to go back to the other one, whether you want it or not.This time, however, perhaps under less favorable circumstances than you would like to experience.

For instance, you can work hard for months, or even years, juggling multiple projects and responsibilities, while skilfully balancing on the edge of depletion. But when you don’t regularly incorporate the necessary rest, it will be forced upon you. You will become ill.

Have you ever wondered why politicians, sportsmen, CEOs of the companies, singers or actors rise high up to only collapse soon after?

Indeed, for any great success, there is a great failure. If there is a rise, there is a fall. And oftentimes the rise you observe at the life of others follows the falls you haven’t. Simply because they were not brought to your attention.

The principle of rhythm governs the working of our universe. You cannot simply avoid that. And neglecting this principle or pretending it does not exist, is not going to help either.  The swing is always at work.

The measure of the swing to the left is the measure of the swing to the right

Let us consider an imaginary pendulum. Since symmetry is a natural phenomenon, the pendulum swings between the two opposites in the same degree. So, the swing of a pendulum in one direction determines the swing in the opposite one. And this is metaphorically reflected on all levels of your life, including your mental states.

The higher your ambition, the bigger your challenges and failures.
The greater fear you have, the greater courage you can summon.
The more you give, the more you will receive.
The greater your experience of joy, the greater your capability of feeling sadness.
The more understanding you have, the better realization of how little it is.

And so on.

Cycles

All the phenomena we observe and participate in are governed by cycles. We function in an amazingly orchestrated mechanisms of cycles. These include cycles nested over cycles, even at a deep level. Proper timing becomes essential for making all these cycles work.

For example, we have a cycle of birth, growth, adulthood, maturity, late maturity and death. And within this cycle we may consider a cycle of 7-year development stages, but other cycles are possible as well. Then we have yearly cycles of changing seasons as well as weekly and daily cycles. In addition, there are cycles of our personal and spiritual development, work-related development or about the roles we take into the society, not even mentioning similar cycles for our family members or friends.

All these moderate and high-level cycles rely on the basic rhythm. This is the everlasting swing of ups and downs, lefts and rights, or forwards and backwards. The potent swing between polarities. (Or in an analogy that suggests itself, it is the binary number and the freedom of choice between 0 and 1 that enables us to build more and more complex structures and complicated computer programs.)

Going with the rhythm

The existence of such a rhythm suggests that the best strategy is to become conscious of it and use it intelligently in your life. The key understanding here is the act of balancing between the two sides. No matter which direction you choose and how far you go, you know that you will need to turn back and swing towards the opposite.

Going with the rhythm is the phrase here. Think of the rhythm as of a strong current in the river (of life). The most effortless way to swim in this river is to be either pushed or carried by the current instead of fighting it. This leads you towards the practice of wise men – taking an optimized action with respect to the journey – by paying attention and carefully observing the rhythm.

So instead of being led by circumstances that will accommodate the pull in the opposite direction for you, you act consciously. You are prepared.

This means that in any direction you are currently going, you have already planned and prepared for the movement in the opposite one.

You basically optimize the tasks which coincide well with the benefits of the given polarity, but you still view them from a perspective of the complete system of polarities. By paying attention you will notice the moment in which the pendulum approaches the threshold so that you may begin adopting your actions and strategies accordingly.

For instance, you maximize your work schedules and collect successes when you have a strong wind behind your back, while  you restore, energize and re-structure when the decline comes. For sure lean years will follow the fat ones.

You don’t push for success in the Down-movement or party extensively during the lean years, but you collect your learning points, reflect upon them and draw conclusions. Then you plan your strategies for the Up-movement or plant seeds for the fat years to come.

Understand first

People who fall drastically simply don’t understand this principle. They are the ignorant ones who push far beyond the limits as if they could have risen forever. Or they are the ignorant ones who sit in the depression pit while contemplating the fall as if the circumstances could have gone adversary forever. Nothing further from the truth.

When the fall is on a horizon or lean years ahead, neither the drastic experience of the fall nor famine are necessary. You can perfectly accommodate for the fall and diminish its effects to minimum simply by being prepared (beforehand) and by taking care of what is needed to be done in such times.

Swing, swing, swing

Let the swing become a conscious act of balancing in your life.

Work when you feel passionate and energetic. Rest when you are tired.
Collect your successes when on rise. Restore and energize when the decline comes.
Make your key decisions when you feel positive and joyful. Avoid them when depressed or sad.
Give willingly and receive with gratitude.
Buy stuff and get rid of stuff.
Teach what you learn. Learn what you are going to teach.

Follow the rhythm.
Prepare. Pay attention. Optimize your acts.
You will master your life by mastering the swing from one opposite to the other.

***

Photo by Misko13, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

 

In our world for a thing that exists, also its opposite exists. This holds for qualities, concepts and physical things.

So we have, Day and Night, Black and White, Inflow and Outflow, High-tide and Low-tide, Rise and Fall, Up and Down, Inside and Outside, Spiritual and Material, Tall and Short, Dumb and Smart or Dirty and Clean. And we have all the degrees of variety between the opposites.

This sounds obvious you may say. Nothing new here.

But it goes further on.
There are opposite perspectives to every challenge.
There are opposite views to every problem.
There are opposite lenses to every solution.

And it is up to us to learn from multiple views and incorporate partial knowledge into a whole.

The principle of polarity is basic in our lives.

Polarities

We live between polarities. We live between Morning and Evening, Summer and Winter, Love and Hatred, Passion and Indifference, Giving and Receiving, Joyful and Sad, Simple and Complex, Cold and Hot, Inbreath and Outbreath and so on. In all walks of life we define ourselves somewhere between the opposites.

The key understanding is that the opposites are merely the same concept but vary (perhaps even hugely) in degree.

Light and Darkness describe the level of clarity / visibility on the two ends.
Dumb and Smart measure intelligence on the two ends.
Joy and Sadness express the level of happiness on the two ends.
Cold and Hot measure temperature on both ends.
Rise and Fall reflect the vertical direction of movement.
Fear and Courage describe the level of (in)ability to endure or continue in face of adversity.

Even more, opposites are identical in nature but vary in degree.

As a result, the opposites and everything in between are expressions originating from the same nature or the same concept.

Equivalence classes

Abusing somewhat the formalism of set theory, we will assign the expressions of the same nature (as defined by the two opposites) to a single equivalence class.  Given a set of elements (say concepts, notions and physical things) an equivalence relation is a binary relation (i.e. between two elements) that partitions the set into cells such that every element of the set belongs to only one cell and each two cells are disjoint. The cells are called equivalence classes.

E.g., we can define an equivalence relation E as =, i.e. ‘equal to‘. So, we will write that x is in relation E with y, that is x E y, if x = y. In this context, 1 defines an equivalence class consisting of all individual objects you can think of, an apple a book, a stick, a ring, a wall, etc. So we have,  [1] = { {apple}, {book}, {table}, {car},…} and many more. Then 2 defines an equivalence class consisting of all the pairs, say [2] = { {apple,apple}, {book,apple}, {apple,table}, {table,car},{apple,pear},…}. And so on.

As an another example let us consider a set of tables. We can define an equivalence relation E on this set as ‘is of a given color’. Then all tables can be partitioned into equivalence classes such as [green-tables], [yellow-tables], etc. You get the point.

We use equivalence classes in daily life. Even if you are visiting a tribe whose language is alien to you, you can make yourself understood. In order to communicate, say 2, you can show your two fingers, or present two sticks, two bars or two bears. It doesn’t matter what you choose to refer to as long as you keep pointing to two elements. It works because we all have learnt the concept of 2, that is, its equivalence class.

Opposites-driven equivalence classes

Coming back to the nature beneath the opposites, we will define the equivalence relation as T :=  ‘can be transformed into’. So x T y, or written differently, T(x)=y, means that x can be transformed into y.

An example equivalence class is [Intelligence], where both Dumb and Smart belong to the [Intelligence] class and, obviously, a dumb person can become smarter, T(Dumb) = Smart(er)[Deep affection] is another equivalence class where T(Dislike) = Like or T(Hatred) = Love. Or, finally, [Intricacy] is an equivalence class in which T(Simple) = Complex or the other way around.

Transmutation

The consequence of the above is paramount. We can transform one polarity into another by raising / lowering consciousness or changing the degree of involvement appropriately.

It means that you can transform one thing into another as long as you stay within the same equivalence class. That is, Fear can be transformed into Courage, Hot into Cold, and Darkness into Light. But Love cannot become Tall, Blue or East simply because Love and the other qualities belong to different classes. Love, however, can become Like, Dislike or Hatred, instead.

Knowing that the opposites are two extreme expressions of the same nature and by understanding and embracing one opposite, you will learn how to master the other one.

You become Courageous by embracing Fear. You start to shine Light if you tame Darkness inside yourself. You begin to Rise if you have learned from a Fall. You gain Peace of mind by transforming your Anger. You become Holy by consciously recognizing your Sin.

In all this, the essence lies in becoming conscious about your own power to transform or transmute one polarity into another.

What is the consequence of all this?

If you struggle with a quality that you are unhappy with or which is holding you back, you need to first understand the nature (i.e. equivalence class) beneath this aspect.

Let’s say you are fearful to make a change. Since you know what fear is, your task now is to move to the other spectrum by changing the degree of your ability to face unknown.

It starts by accepting your fear and learning from it. By learning how fear serves you, you will learn about courage. Then you follow your conscious thoughts and feelings and keep taking conscious action. By doing so, fear is shown in different aspects. And by such new exposures, a part of fear is willing to explore the other side.

A transformation follows in the same way as you would approach muscle training. You start easy and you keep growing by handling progressive difficulties. In all this you know that courage is there for you. It is not an absence of fear but fear transmuted consciously towards the other polarity so that action is possible.

Fight not, transmute instead

We often choose to fight a problem, or reject what we are unhappy with. Such strategies are hardly effective and usually bring nothing more than tons of frustration. If you choose to fight a quality or aspect of yourself, let it be your disorganization, your shyness, your lying, your fear of moving forward or your anger, you will be fighting a part of yourself. This very act will make you sabotage a profound change to happen. You cannot fight yourself, reject yourself or hate yourself and still make a significant progress in your life. So you will end up running in circles or being stuck.

Transmutation is the key.

It is a process that starts with acceptance, followed by conscious thoughts and actions towards an inner transformation. Keep it this way. It is simple.

Attraction

Coming back to the original question.

Do opposites attract?

In a sense they do, as they tightly define the two extreme borders of the same thing. We perceive the attraction merely as the recognition of the direction in which we feel pulled to develop.

If your attraction is present, it is a sign of your consciousness being ready. It’s a high time to trasmute your qualities into the ones you wish to have.


no_giver_without_receiver

When you give, you are in a position of power and control. You have something to offer. But perhaps the act of giving is not of a pure intention.

When you receive, you are in a position of humbleness. You have something to welcome and accept. But perhaps what you are receiving is not what you really like, want or need.

The smallest gift

Can you receive the smallest gift possible, a complement?

Imagine your colleague says “You look great in this outfit!” or “A great presentation, indeed”.
What is your response?
Do you diminish yourself by saying, “Oh, I bought it really cheaply” or “Well… I guess it was fine.”
Or, you simply answer “Thank you. It’s nice you are telling me that”

How to receive

If somebody offers you a gift, express him/her gratitude for the time and effort spent to organize your gift. Pause for a moment, look into the eyes of the giver and say “Thank you”. It will make a difference.

Allow yourself to accept gifts from others. Appreciate what is coming. If somebody offers you a lift or paying your bill, say “yes” and be happy about such a lovely surprise. Forget about being vulnerable or owing them something in return. If you don’t like the gift or don’t need it, pass it on to someone who can enjoy it. Barter. Give it to a charity. Sell on ebay. Whatever.

As you do this, you support the flow of life going effortlessly. Everyone gets to win. When you refuse a gift, in that moment you block the flow of blessing in your life, and perhaps also in the lives of others.

True giving is always out of love. Accept the gift if it comes this way. Remember there is something majestic about receiving. A queen receives ambassadors or prime minsters. A noble man receives honors. A hotel receives guests.  Begin to see the act of receiving as an act of welcoming and accepting something special. Because it is so.

When not to receive

You may choose to decline the gift, if someone is giving for the wrong purpose. This means givning in order to make you dependent or force/expect you to do something in return that is not to your advantage.

“How do you know this is the case?”

You’ll simply notice it or sense it. There is a perplexing feeling that something is not truly all right. The best is to show appreciation while rejecting the gift. You may say something like that  “I appreciate your thinking about me and the effort you put to buy/make this gift. I cannot receive it, however. I feel this will create an extra pressure on me to do X [whatever X is in this case] which I don’t want. I am sorry if this is hurting you. I hope you can use this lovely gift for another person”.

You may also choose to accept a gift when the person is giving for the wrong reasons though. If your heart is pure, you can still help the blessings come.

How to give

Are you a joyful giver? Are you giving freely, with the purest intention possible?

True giving comes from the heart.

You give because you want to express gratitude.
You give because you want to help someone.
You give because you want to enrich the other person.
You give because you want to bless yourself and the other person.
While this may all be true, ultimately, you give because you want to grow as a conscious being.

Give and forget about your gift.

Release any expectations. In your mind set the person free to do whatever he/she wants with your gift. They are free to use it, abandon it, throw it away or give it away. The gift serves you as an outlet for your love, for sharing what you have.

Give with joy and the intention of blessing the other person. It will transform you.

Where to give

You should give to a person, place or organization where your giving is going to contribute the most.

Give to support a meaningful goal of the people you know. This may be an education of a kid.

Give to your friends to help them go through difficult times. This may be money when they desperately need it or teaching them a skill while they are looking for a new job.

Give to support where you are personally involved. This may be your local quilting club or climbing club. Give where you receive the most joy.

Give where you receive the spiritual growth. This may be your local community or your local church. Give where you receive guidance.

Give where you learn a lot. Give to people who inspire you, help you and love you. This may include your parents or siblings, your neighbours or friends, teachers, mentors, schools, universities, and so on.

Giving and receiving

If you give something to others, you should also allow them to give something back to you if they desire to. But you can perfectly receive from another source 🙂

Giving and receiving are a part of an ever-active circulation of value exchange and blessings. You cannot give that what you don’t have. When you give, you need to receive something in return to continue to give more. When you receive, you need to give something to continue to receive more. And so on.

Remember that what you give may be totally different than what you receive. You may give your efforts to teach a person a skill and receive a life-transforming book from another. You may give your knowledge and receive a place to live. You may give your laptop to a child and receive a dinner invitation from friends. Simply give and receive.

You contribute to others and you are supported by them. You bless others and they bless you. You enrich others and they enrich you.

Giving is a skill of conscious outflow. Receiving is a skill of conscious inflow.

The key is to live a life of balance and be happy with yourself. Then from that place you can reach out and help others even more.

And the final message is …

Giving and receiving are the two opposites of abundance. Your task is to maintain the flow.

{Give → Receive} × REPEAT

***

Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

 

A beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See www.ingeduin.nl.

When I was a student I was working in Germany during the summer holidays. Some years I worked on farm fields. It was a hard, physical work, usually 11-13h daily, six or seven days a week. My goal was to earn money so that I had enough to cover my expenses during the following 9-month study.

No doubt, working on field abroad was a life changing experience. Not only tested it my weaknesses and hardened my Spirit, but made me deeply appreciate the luxury of learning (instead of doing the mundane work, of course). I have never forgotten that.

Every year I had a big challenge though. It was accommodation. A basic hotel room was very expensive and although I could have afforded it after the first month of work, I still did not have enough to pay in advance. Money was tight. So, I usually borrowed the money from the farm owner after the first week of work.

This was the time when Germany only started to accept legal workers from East Europe. It was unsure how much trust they had. In addition, spending 1/3 of my earnings on accommodation (and another substantial amount on food + gas) was an inefficient strategy to maximize the savings.

There were better solutions.

One year my boyfriend and I met a German family who was renting a small flat at that time. They offered us a beautiful room of their 1-year old daughter in exchange for the basic utility costs. It happened because a co-worker we had met the previous year simply inquired by this family whether they would be willing to help us. Amazingly, they were. So, they hosted us that year and the following year – the last year of the study.

They did not know us, yet they welcomed us, complete strangers, to live in their small flat and to spend the little free time we had with them. It is true we were mostly out, but when we were in, we were a disturbance. We were bringing smells and dirt from the field. We were cooking dinners in the late evenings. We were making noise. And we were no entertainment, whatsoever, as we even felt too exhausted to talk.

They had trust. They had love. And they had a strong sense to share what they had. I find it remarkable to this day.

When at the end we asked them how we could return the favor, they simply said:
“Help one person in need.”

And this was a powerful moment in which I learned about giving and receiving.

I have practiced that ever since. I’ve learnt to appreciate gifts that come my way and to value them. I say “Thank you” and I mean it.

I’ve been taking initiatives to help people in need, offering books, time, advice, attention, accommodation, money, and so on. I challenge them to give back what they can offer to another person who is yet to cross their life path. Kindness is contagious.

There is a natural flow of value exchange we want to maintain. We may want to reject a gift when we feel we have nothing to offer in return. No need for that.

The key understanding is that you can perfectly give to one person and receive from another. As long as you maintain both inflow and outflow, you stay your healthy and balanced Self.

Give with joy and receive with appreciation.
Give and receive.
Maintain flow.

***

A sequel post on giving and receiving is here.

 

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