After posting Walking the Inner Balance Beam last week, a dear friend of mine suggested that I look into Jung’s views on “Holding the Tension of the Opposites”. So, being me, I did a little digging around. Here is an essay on that from the Jungian Center for the Spiritual Sciences. And then I contacted another friend of mine who has a background in depth psychology to get her point of view. She filled me in on what she knew and then also mentioned that there is a similar idea in Buddhism, that Buddha was in this space of being that Jung describes and was able to laugh and lift himself above the tension. So then I did a little more research. And I have decided to explore this idea a little more deeply during my meditations and morning pages.
In brief, the idea of the “Tension of Opposites” is to hold two opposing viewpoints in your mind simultaneously and not only acknowledge the validity of both, but experience the tension between the two. That moment of experiencing is supposed to produce a third something that is “part synthesis and part transcendence” (to quote my friend). And I don’t think that I’m necessarily searching for transcendence, but being able to harness the creative energy that could potentially come from working in this vein would be really good.
I think I’ve all ready begun some of the initial groundwork I need to do, just in living with the opposites within me and trying to walk a middle ground whenever possible. Also, back in 2006, I did a lengthy paper on The Woman Who Slept With Men to Take the War Out of Them by Deena Metzger, a novel in play format that was actually my first introduction to Metzger’s writing. And the bulk of the paper dealt with exploring the language of dualities in our society, and how the either/or mindset (or the you aren’t in my group mindset) is at the root of most of the conflicts we have as a species. Man or woman, good or evil, war or peace – I posited that having the or strongly set in our minds gives us little room for negotiating through our lives with those who differ from us, and I briefly touched on how it is especially difficult for those who don’t feel they belong to either side in the dichotomy being examined. My conclusion was that a lot might be accomplished simply by raising a future generation and training ourselves to keep and instead of or in thinking about opposites. It would be an interesting social experiment to run, but an impractical one for many reasons. And having come to that decision, I just sort of left off thinking about it except when events would happen in the world to force me towards philosophical thoughts.
So I have my work cut out for me, in my eternal quest to expand myself. It will be interesting to see where this goes.