bipolar order is universal

Illustration from Codex Buranus (Wheel of Fortune), a collection of texts from the 11th and 12th century. There are many paths to Truth. The way of the intellect is one path, a difficult one to tread. Because the smarter you are, the more you think you know. And the belief that you know more than others inhibits and constrains your capacity to learn -- from others, and from the universe at large!

Within Western culture particularly, there has long been an almost instinctive assumption that intelligence is the quality that trumps all others. "Trumps" is a good word in the context of this post: the word implies a tendency to treat Reality as a game of chance (and/or see Reality as a house of cards!). And smart people love playing games.

The earliest known Wheel of Life (bhavachakra) depiction is painted on a wall in the Ajanta Cave complex in India. Holding the wheel is Yama, God of Death. In more recent years the tendency has been to value the quality of "physical beauty" (whatever that is) as the quality that trumps all others, even intelligence. (Especially intelligence?!)

The fact is that the meaning of "physical beauty" is subjective and relative: it varies from person to person, culture to culture, universe to universe. And from time to time! Likewise, the meaning of "intelligence" is subjective and relative.

I suppose it all depends on your objectives. If one of your objectives is to be loved by others, then the ability to express love will be, for you, the quality that trumps all others.

If your objective is to avoid being punched in the face, then qualities such as aggression and offensiveness will not help you achieve your objectives.

If the objective is to maximise intelligence (whatever that is), then drinking alcohol will prevent the achievement of that objective. Drinking alcohol is not "bad" or "good" in an absolute sense; it is helpful or unhelpful relative to the objective of maximising intelligence.

yes no
good bad
light dark
day night
right wrong
life death
white black
hot cold
love hate
positive negative
existence non-existence
real unreal

Talking of qualities, they seem to fall inexorably and neatly into one of two columns. It's noteworthy that each quality exists by virtue of its matching quality in the adjacent column. And each quality is defined in terms of its twin.

Both elements of paired qualities, such as right and wrong, are simply the lack of the other. Hate is the lack of love. Love is the lack of hate. Light is the absence of dark. Dark is the absence of light.

The fact is that a universe comprising only the elements from one of the columns would be less rich, less diverse than a universe comprising elements from both columns. (Maybe heaven is the left hand column, the sinister column, and Hell is the right hand column, the dextrous column. I think we are all ambidextrous!)

More recent (circa 1800) depiction of the Wheel of Existence, showing the six realms of existence, with Lord Yama in attendance. Applique and embroidery on silk. A universe encompassing only the "good" would be less rich and less diverse than a universe in which both "good" and "bad" exist. But neither of those universes is possible: "good" and "bad" define each other, each depends on the other for its very existence.

And let us not forget that "good", "bad", "heaven, "hell", "right" and "wrong" are labels invented by humans, for use by humans. Our labels do not have universal application; their validity is relative, limited and totally dependent on context.

Words and thoughts can be more harmful than helpful; they can conceal more than they reveal; they can lead us away from truth just as easily as towards truth.

In the whole of Reality, there is only one absolute and an infinite number of relativities (or relatives, if you're into large families). The one absolute contains all the relativities. And all the relativities taken together comprise the one absolute. The one absolute is Everything. And every thing is part of Everything.

PS mouseover the pics for captions.


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Cie Cheesemeister said...

Ah, I knew it! The Universe is mentally ill! Therefore, I must be divine, as I (or at least my brain) is made in its image.
The older I get, the more I've come to realize that I actually know jack shit about anything.

masterymistery said...

Hi Cie, great to hear from you again. You are divine, and so am I. But it's no advantage, because everyone and everything else is too!
Re jack shit (jill crap?) IMHO your realization means you're smarter than many smart people, most of whom never come to that realization. Thanks for stopping by. SRS/MM/CR