Off / On
Many things have their opposite. What does this mean? Are things this cut and dry? Well, let’s see… if something is ‘off’, than means it is not ‘on’, and if something is ‘on’, then it is not ‘off’. Each word, each term, requires its pair to exist. For example, you may say that the lamp is on, or it is off, but you wouldn’t say this to things that don’t have the opposite….. so, for example, you wouldn’t say that the air is ‘on’… it is always on! Lol. If you did say that the air was ‘on’, this would inherently imply that it can be ‘off’. Maybe you were talking about the air conditioner! Lol.
So, there is a subtlety here, which grows even more so with words like ‘black’ and ‘white’. One part of our brains thinks of them as opposites… yet, they are not…. You can have white without black and you can have black without white. Additionally, black is the absence of light and white is the combination of all colors of light. So, perhaps black is ‘off’ and white is ‘fully on’! Maybe that makes green ‘partially on’, lol.
Certain things we try to figure out do not benefit from using our opposite-minds. The big questions, really. Like, what exists outside the Universe? If time was born during the Big Bang, what existed before then? These questions use as a foundation the notion that the pair ‘universe’ and ‘outside the Universe’ is accurate. Is this accurate? We can get into a deep semantic-al discussion over this, but if we drop that, what remains? In some ways, the term ‘Universe’ means ‘all that exists’… so in that context, it cannot have its opposite, its pair, as nothing falls outside its realm. So, if that’s true, what is wrong with our question then: ‘What exists outside the Universe?’? The problem with this question is that the questioner assumes it is a valid question! Lol. What do I mean? Well, if the questioner accepts the definition of the Universe as all that exists, then there is no room to think of what exists outside this! However, our minds are curious! Let’s take a peek outside the bubble of our expanding Universe.. what is it traveling into?! … Ah, so now we get into geometry really, if we begin to think of the Universe as some sort of 3-D bubble ever-expanding into space….INTO space? That’s just it… the Universe is expanding space, not expanding into space. So, our dualistic, pairing, opposite-minds clunk. They can’t work properly.
I think of it like Newton’s laws of gravity and motion…. They aren’t really correct, but they work awesome-ly when applied to motions on the Earth…. So, just like our opposite-minds, our dualistic minds work really really well in helping us to evolve and survive on Earth as humans, they fail when we try to figure out things much deeper.
So, Zen is not about banishing our dualistic mind, our ego-mind (our illusion that we are separate from everything else), but rather about not attaching to this ego-mind… letting it function in this manner when it appropriate, and letting it go when it is not.
Who/what decides when it is appropriate? Be careful!