In life, everything has two extremes. Darkness and light. Up and down. Warm and cold. It’s the yin and the yang. The black and the white.
This symbol shows how both sides are in perfect symmetry, not within themselves but with each other. Together they form a whole. The full circle.
There’s one more thing, though: Where the dark is the thickest, light is at its center. Where the light is the thickest, darkness is found at its center.
They are not only interconnected, they revolve around each other.
If you remove the seed of darkness within you, the light also disappears. If you remove the seed of light, the darkness will go away with it.
We all know that the way to live a happy life is to be good to other people first and only then to ask for something. To listen first, then to talk about yourself.
There’s one inconvenient truth, though: Life tends to get messy. It’s rough around the edges. As Mike Tyson said:
“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”
Things tend to just happen however they want to. We can’t always control it.
To be fair, though: When you are one of the always-happy meditation guru’s, who teaches how to always and under any circumstances be joyful, then you might get away with it. There is probably no darkness that you can’t get rid off in a week-long meditation session.
But if you must lead an empire or deal with roman politics like Marcus Aurelius or Seneca had to, you might develop a different kind of teaching. You might look at reality with a sober eye instead of trying to make it shine and glitter. What is the reality? Its duality at its best:
Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.
I am the empath and I want to listen to you. I want to make everybody feel at ease and welcome. I am kind and loving. I truly love myself and I am connected to the world. I am happy and never feel lonely.
“If I tell you I’m good, probably you will say I’m boasting. But if I tell you I’m not good, you’ll know I’m lying.”
I am the sociopath and I get shit done. I achieve and bring everything one step ahead. I am superior and I walk on water. I not only love myself, I adore myself. I am inauthentic, arrogant and selfish.
Notice this: The empath feels the need to convey love, which is quite selfish because no one has asked him to do so. The sociopath adores himself which is clearly coming from a place of love. The seed of its opposite can be found in both.
In his talk The Importance Of Being Inauthentic Mark Bowden discusses the reason why we should not be too authentic in our daily lives. In short: We will not naturally like most people on this planet so we should work on having pleasant interactions with them.
Also, when we are interacting frequently, we might just be out of loving energy from time to time, so it is a great relief to tap into the power of the self-sufficient sociopath. It’s already in you so don’t be afraid to show it.
Our current spiritual ideals of love and kindness are not timeless but temporary. The Stoics had a focus on dealing with adversity. The Sufis had a focus on ecstatic love. Zen monks focus on stillness and inner battles.
Love and kindness are on the table now but something else might be en vogue tomorrow. Don’t be too strict with yourself about the spiritual teachings and look inside to see what’s really there. You have the good and the bad, that’s how it’s meant to be. You are supposed to find serenity in opposition. As Jiddu Krishnamurti said:
“You have to be a light to yourself in a world that’s utterly becoming dark.”
I always thought that this quote was quite pessimistic and somehow negative but now I get it: It means that at some point you will realize that there is no guru and no authority, which has evolved above the level of a simple primate. With that realisation, the world gets very dark. If you haven’t worked on your own light, you will be lost and not know up from down anymore.
Be good when you want to be good, be bad when you want to be bad. Judge according to your own experience not by a book or a teaching.
“For it is according to nature, and nothing is evil that is according to nature.”
Marcus Aurelius in Meditations
Just remember this:
When you express love, this has nothing to do with other people but is a reflection of who you are at this moment.
When you express superiority, this has nothing to do with other people but is a reflection of who you are at this moment.
It’s already in you. Don’t run away from it.