Quantum Polarity and Reality
"East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet."
We use polarity to create a coherent picture of the signals that come through our senses and we call this picture "reality". Polarity has been a powerful tool that has enabled us to master and control the world of time and space. As the cognitive infrastructure or framework of science and technology, it has given us the many inventions that yield an immense amount of power over the elements. This has worked well up to this time but now we have come to the edge of the sensory world. In this new world relativity and quantum theory have turned things upside down and made us realize that time, space and simple polarity are structures we project on to reality, and which have their limits in providing us an accurate or reliable picture of it. The so-called "Schrödinger's cat" for example, can be in a state both dead and alive, and Einstein has introduced us to a reality where time can stand still. Meanwhile, we have used our power and control to inflict serious damage to what sustains our lives.
While we have spent considerable energy in trying to understand time and space, we have done little in getting a clearer picture of polarity, or of understanding how we understand. Our usual way of trying to understand something involves detaching ourselves from what we are studying in order to get a clear view of it. This approach automatically and unconsciously creates the polarity of subject/object. It appears to have given us satisfactory results, but trying to understand polarity itself is a different matter. For in studying polarity we have created another polarity, which ironically gets us even more deeply embedded in polarity. Here we have entered the realm of self-reference, an unknown territory so treacherous that some, like Georg Cantor and Kurt Gödel, have gone mad in trying to come to terms with it. (See the 90-minute BBC documentary Dangerous Knowledge.) Little to wonder why we have avoided it.
This reminds me of the Ouroboros, the mythical snake that eats its own tail, whose image you see at the top of this page. Among other things the Ouroboros is a symbol of self-reference which can either be empowering or overpowering, depending on how it is used or approached. In the above example the two polarities play off each other and go round and round in circles, like a paradox that is never resolved. I am also reminded of a quote from Seng-Ts'an: "If you work on your mind with your mind, how can you avoid an immense confusion?"
While polarity breaks down at the edges of our physical reality, neither does it work well outside of time and space. Thoughts, ideas, feelings, hopes, desires, intuition and the like, also exist in another world, and simple polarity can give us only a vague and often inaccurate representation of it. This has created much confusion and error both in our understanding of and our dealing with this realm, as well as our communication about it. In applying a concept that works well in the physical world to a non-physical one, we have set the stage for misunderstanding and disagreement, division and destruction, conflict and war.
Just as we cannot eliminate the concept of boxes or categories without eliminating thinking itself, neither can we eliminate polarity. But it is clear we need to gain a better understanding of it. We need to find the courage and confidence to enter the realm of self-reference and come to a place that gives us a view of a larger reality, one where we can work in harmony with all that is – both inside and outside time and space.
Because of our discomfort with self-reference, our way of dealing with polarity has been to avoid it and approach it by way of its opposite – the concept of unity or synthesis. But this avoidance automatically sets up another polarity and we are again caught in the same dilemma. Not only that, in our avoidance of self-reference we are ignoring a central aspect of unity.
In contrast to this approach, rather than trying to remove ourselves from polarity or self-reference, what we will do is delve deeper into them. But this time we will elicit the aid of the Ouroboros – and do it consciously and deliberately. We will apply polarity to itself in such a way as to come to a new way of working with polarity, what I call "Quantum Polarity", an understanding or perspective that leads us to what we are trying to attain. One result for example, is the emergence of an interaction of the elements of the new polarity that mirrors the complexity of our relationship with what we call "reality".
While the basics of Quantum Polarity are fairly simple, its implications and application are profound.