[Reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, July 1967.]
It is not difficult to accept vaguely the metaphysical conception of the duality of Spirit-Matter as the prototype, the essential polarity of Life, finding expression in every aspect, great and small, of that Life. We cannot fail to see something of the duality of positive and negative, centrifugal and centripetal, day and night, life and death, heat and cold, attraction and repulsion, pleasure and pain, good and evil, knowledge and ignorance, freedom and slavery, and so on ad infinitum through all the pairs of opposites. The trouble is that in expanding and applying the ideas we too often see them only in their opposing aspects, and forget that they are to be viewed, not as independent actualities, but as the two facets of the same underlying reality. Apart from it and apart from each other, they have no existence. Thus, concretized Spirit is Matter, and etherealized Matter is Spirit.
We would not recognize light as light if there were no shadow to act as a complementary foil.
Just as Light and Darkness, Spirit and Matter, are not distinct and separate, so also good and evil. No one can point to the existence of good per se in Nature; nor can evil be shown to have a separate independent existence. Reality is neither good nor evil, as Life is neither Spirit nor Matter.
In the old Zoroastrian texts, the Gathas, the opposing forces are described as two Spirits, named Spenta-Maninyu and Angra-Mainyu. Ahura Mazda, the Supreme, refers to them as "my spirits."
The two primeval spirits are impersonal, universal and omnipotent forces—centripetal and centrifugal. They are the basis of the manifested universe, are coeval and coeternal and complement each other. Spenta-Mainyu is the power of Spirit. Angra-Mainyu of Matter; they are like seed and soil, both equally necessary for the birth of the tree.
Because of man's dual nature, spiritual and material, which the philosophical have always traced to its true source in the two spirits, the doctrine of two minds in man naturally and logically arose. Vohu Mano and Akem Mano are the higher and lower minds of our Theosophical philosophy. Just as the primeval spirits emanate from Ahura Mazda, so also the two minds are expressions of the Spirit in Man, the Fravashi, the Atma-Buddhic Monad.
Their mutual interdependence can be seen from the fact that a virtue on which too much stress has been put is transformed into a VICE, in the same manner as the eye that is tired from too long gazing on one colour will change over and reproduce its complementary. The man who is over-generous usually ends by being so at the expense of other people, his very craving for "generosity" leading him to acts of meanness. Even the intensive gratification of a vice can produce a temporary surfeit, but such satiety is only a temporary suspension; it is not a reformation and a cure, and there will be a swing back once more into VICE, since good and evil per se have no real permanence.
The duality of the higher or spiritual aspirations and the lower or material desires which in embodied existence work in every human consciousness, produces the three pairs mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita—heat and cold, pleasure and pain, fame and ignominy. Krishna reiterates the advice that Arjuna should rise above these pairs, Robert Crosbie wrote that "there are always the 'pairs of opposites' in separative considerations, as these are effects. The One Reality sees both as reflections, as light and dark; if not seen, they do not exist." In day-to-day living this is most difficult to accomplish, but the principle of application and practice is given by W. Q. Judge:
If the conception of the "pairs of opposites" still keeps the mind in its old separative groove, the conception of the "pairs of complements" can profitably be superimposed thereon. But though the theoretical distinction is made here between "contrast" and "complement," in reality there is none. The finite mind is accustomed to attach one or other idea to certain expressions, and it is therefore possible to circumvent the separative tendency of the mind by dwelling on those expressions that convey the idea of co-operation rather than of opposition.
It is in the realm of ethics and of self-development that these co-operative dualities are most easily seen. For example, we can link as complementary two qualities essential for self-control—practice and absence of desire, Abhyasa and Vairagya. The two are mutually interdependent, and only when they are practised together does progress result. Each of the Divine Paramitas, likewise, has its complementary counterpart.
Wherever we look we find duality piled on duality, contrast and complement, two in one. On the physical plane a man who has lost an eye finds that his vision loses thereby its stereoscopic sense of reality, its depth. It is the same thing with the inner sight, and there most people are unfortunately one-eyed or cross-eyed. Our task is to balance and unify our dual vision, to blend the mind and soul, for behind the illusion of the "pairs of opposites" lies the integral vision of the Third Eye, the Single Eye of Wisdom.