Everything can be seen as a this;

Everything can be seen as a that.

The that depends on the this;

the this mirrors the that.

One follows from the other;

each is inseparable from both.

You can’t have right without wrong,

life without death,

the true without the false.

The Master is not trapped in opposites.

His this is also a that.

He sees that life becomes death

and death becomes life, that right

has a kernel of wrong within it

and wrong a kernel of right,

that the true turns into the false

and the false into the true.

He understands that nothing is absolute,

that since every point of view

depends on the viewer,

affirmation and denial

are equally beside the point.

The place where the this and the that

are not opposed to each other

is called “the pivot of the Tao.”

When we find this pivot, we find ourselves

at the center of the circle,

and here we sit, serene,

while Yes and No keep chasing each other

around the circumference endlessly.

– Lao-tzu


The nature of duality is that as soon as we define something as “right”, something else becomes “wrong.” Simply by creating one, the other must exist. If we create a Heaven…there must be a Hell. 

The brilliant opening of the Tao te Ching (also by Lao-tzu) reminds us:

The tao that can be told

is not the eternal Tao.

The unnamable is the eternally real.

Naming is the origin

Of all particular things.

When we are zoomed in to a particular area in our lives…or in the lives of others… it is easy to start picking out what we like or don’t like. This is always based on our perspective, and most likely the things we are focused on (I always draw the line at abuse…whether emotional, physical, or verbal…this is always something that needs to be addressed!) do not matter very much. What to wear…what the other person looked like…why someone asked a question you found to be ill-formed…I mean really, who cares?! What makes us think that we are always right?

However, we are conditioned from a young age to see things as right or wrong…good or bad. For better or worse, we carry within us a manual for how to be a Saint…and things to do to avoid being a Sinner. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to harsh judgements from the “Holiest” of people. I’m reminded of the Bible and how some may focus on Exodus 21:24 which advocates “an eye for an eye” as it relates to punishment for those who harm others. They may place lesser importance on Matthew 5:38-40 in which Jesus reminds, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” But the passage in the Bible that ties everything together for me is John 8:7 when Jesus famously tells those who would seek to punish an adulterer, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” If we are loving our neighbor as ourselves and not judging others since we are also imperfect, no stone should ever be cast…no eye should ever be taken…no slap should be delivered. But because we are imperfect, we must forgive in the way we wish to be forgiven.

When we zoom out, we can see that this pattern of right chasing wrong can go on forever. If we are to obtain any peace in life, it comes not from these never-ending judgements. It comes instead from accepting things as they are, in this moment. We have to accept that which we do not want to accept and look for the love beneath it all. For me God is Love…Love is God…and Love never fails. If we truly believe this, we can find peace. And we move beyond naming and judgements. We know that even when we are “right”, we can also be “wrong.” In that knowing, we stop the games and become our true Self…the Self within us which is Love…which connects us to our original Oneness…which connects us to all things.


Photo source: Yin & Yang by Yves L.

This post is dedicated to my Uncle Lexie who has read the Bible many, many, many more times than me. He always inspires me to want to read it again. :) <3