“There is no consciousness without discrimination of opposites.”

Inner work is about bringing the paradoxes of the psyche into consciousness and then untangling them.”

“Opposites are extreme qualities in any state, by virtue of which that state is perceived to be real, for they form a potential.  The psyche is made up of processes whose energy springs from the equilibration of all kinds of opposites.  The spirit/instinct antithesis is only one of the commonest formulations, but it has the advantage of reducing the greatest number of the most important and most complex psychic processes to a common denominator.  So regarded, psychic processes seem to be balances of energy flowing between spirit and instinct, though the question of whether a process is to be described as spiritual or as instinctual remains shrouded in darkness.”  

(Pairs of opposites)    Brendan

   In Brendan’s case, whereas up to this point he had been sailing eastward to the sunrise, he would now, without reversing course, be sailing westward, to the setting sun.  He and his shipmates have passed, that is to say, the point where the pairs of opposites come together and where the consciousness transcends them: East and West, life and death, good and evil, even being and nonbeing. 

(Pairs of opposites)    Middle Way -

In Parzival, (…) the miraculous vessel itself is declared to have been brought from heaven to earth by the “neutral angels,” who, during the War in Heaven, sided neither with Lucifer nor with God.  That is, between the claims of the ultimate pairs of opposites they have held steady, and so, in a mystical sense, represent what has been called the Middle Way between all pairs of opposites, which leads to the realization of transcendence.  For any deity, defined, personified, and with qualities – good, not evil; true, not false; merciful and just, not merciless and unjust; and so forth – is by such definition bounded.  God’s opposite, Satan, is thus inevitably his fellow.  When, however, the Middle Way has been found – as taught, for example, by the Buddha – a place unknown to the Land of Sheep, the merry song of the white birds of the axial tree tells of the rapture named in the Sanskrit of the Indian mystics, nirvikalpa Samadhi (“rapture without qualification”), in contrast to the “rapture with qualification” of savikalpa Samadhi.  And in the legend of the Grail the sign of such realization is the Grail itself.   RG 17

   The pairs of opposites, thus, of male and female, of death and birth (possibly, also, the knowledge of good and evil, as in the biblical version of this widespread myth), came into the world, together with food, at the end of the Mythological Age, by way of the mythological act of murder, after which there evolved the world of time and differentiation.  And the high rites by which this world of time is kept in being, the sacramental rites, are normally observances of a sacrifice in reenactment of that Mythological Act.  Indeed, symbolically interpreted, even the sacrifice on the cross of him whose “flesh is meat indeed” and whose “blood is drink indeed” (John 6:55) was a mystery in the sense (spiritualized) of this mythological theme.  The cross as the astronomical sign of Earth (circle with cross in it).  Christ on the cross, Christ on his mother’s knees in the image of the Pieta, and the buried sacrifice in the womb of the mother-goddess Earth are equivalent signs.   (G xviii)

There is no position without its negation.

Hot cannot be derived from cold, nor high from low.  An opposition either exists in its binary form or it does not exist at all, and a being without opposites is completely unthinkable, as it would be impossible to establish its existence. 

“The pairs of opposites (being and not being, life and death, beauty and ugliness, good and evil, and all the other polarities that bind the faculties to hope and fear, and link the organs of action to deeds of defense and acquisition)are the clashing rocks (Symplegades) that crush the traveler, but between which the heroes always pass.

Meditation on a deity opens up in all directions the various manifestations of the power that the deity personifies.  In one of the little chapels devoted to this goddess in Çatal Hüyük are two leopards, the male and the female leopard facing each other.  We would have to go between them to get to the Goddess, so they are the threshold guardians.  What does this mean, this pair of opposites facing each other?  They represent the threshold of passage from the field of secular thinking, where “I” and “you” are separate from each other in an Aristotelian sense – that is, a is not not-a – to a world transcendent of that kind of bipolar thinking, more in the way of a dream logic, where the dreamer and the dream, although they seem to be two, are actually one.  These are the pairs of opposites between which you must pass when you pass through this active door, called in another context the clashing rocks, the Symplegades. 

We should do far better to realize that the tragic counterplay betwen inside and outside represents, at bottom, the energetics of the life process, the polar tension that is necessary for self-regulation.  However different, to all intents and purposes, these opposing forces may be, their fundamental meaning and desire is the life of the individual: they always fluctuate round this centre of balance.  Just because they are inseparably related through opposition, they also unite in a mediatory meaning, which, willingly or unwillingly, is born out of the individual and is therefore divined by him.  He has a strong feeling of what should be and what could be.  To depart from this divination means error, aberration, illness. 

  "I never live my life in the middle ... I`m either on top of the world or right down at the bottom"

Light is followed by shadow, the other side of the Creator.

The alchemists saw the union of opposites under the symbol of the tree, and it is therefore not surprising that the unconscious of present-day man, who no longer feels at home in his world and can base his existence neither on the past that is no more nor on the future that is yet to be, should hark back to the symbol of the cosmic tree rooted in this world and growing up to heaven - the tree that is also man.  In the history of symbols this tree is described as the way of life itself, a growing into that which eternally is and does not change; which springs from the union of opposites and, by its eternal presence, also makes that union possible.  It seems as if it were only through an experience of symbolic reality that man, vainly seeking his own "existence" and making a philosophy out of it, can find his way back to a world in which he is no longer a stranger.   BW 374

   When you go to Japan and approach temples, there are all kinds of guardians.  One will have the mouth open and the other the mouth closed.  They typically represent the male and female, but in the Buddhist sphere they also represent the two emotions that bind us to life: the emotion of fear and the emotion of desire.  The notion is that if you’re going to pass through to the experience of immortality, which is within the shrine, you must leave behind those two emotions.  G 29

   In India, it is said that the divine energy of brahman manifests itself in time as Maya, and the energy has three functions or qualities, called gunas: the function of energy, the function of inertia, and the function of harmony.  Rajas gunas is the quality of energy, tamas guna is the quality of pressure and inertia against which the energy plays, and sattva guna is the harmonization of the two.  In Chinese philosophy there is yin and yang.  The yang energy is analogous to rajas-guna, or the thrust, and yin energy is tamas guna, or inertia, and one has to have a balance between them and that’s the sattva guna.  When you look at that Chinese sign of the revolving yin and yang, you have energy, mass and harmonious movement.  We have this in Einstein’s formula of E=MC².  Energy is E, mass is M, the C is the speed of light.  When you realize that those leopards represent the guardians, they can be read as the forms of sensibility, the categories of logic through which we have to penetrate to get to what Kant called the Ding an sich, the “thing in itself,” and what the Indians call brahman, that which is the one life consciousness of which we are all manifestations.  G29

 The assimilation of the fundamental insight that psychic life has two poles still remains a task for the future.

The Christian era, which began at the same time as the astrological age of the Fishes, is characterized by the problem of the opposites of Christ and Antichrist, light and dark, good and evil, which had never before attained such a pitch of intensity.  TGL 102

It can therefore be said that human consciousness must always be crucified between the pull of the two poles: if you fall too much into either one, you die.  Life, in its essence, means crucifixion.  TPoPA 151


It is a psychological fact that as soon as we touch on these identifications we enter the realm of the syzygies, the paired opposites, where the One is never separated from the Other, its antithesis.  It is a field of personal experience which leads directly to the experience of individuation, the attainment of the self


                  Opposite Ways
The experience of life is created by mind.
Thought precedes experience.
If one speaks and acts with a clouded mind,
suffering follows, as the wheel of the ox-cart follows the ox.
The experience of life is created by mind.
Thought precedes experience.
If one speaks and acts with a clear mind,
contentment follows like a faithful shadow.