No, I'm not talking about the Tolstoy novel! But it does attempt to explore the concept of duality quite nicely. I'm talking about how you can find your center in this crazy world through non-duality. So, what's duality? Imagine a playing card. It has two sides that are different, but it's the same card. In this example your reaction is the playing card, and war and peace are the two different sides. To find your center, you must put the card down entirely.
I've said this before, but it bears repeating now: duality is a natural concept our brains developed to survive on this planet. It's not something to hate, it is something to transcend. The mind wanted to easily distinguish between things to run away from and things that were safe. This kept us alive for many, many years. However, in this modern world we don't need to rely on knee-jerk reactions to things to keep us alive. But our brains haven't caught up yet. Luckily, we can be smarter than our brain's natural reaction!
Duality is best explained through example, so let's look at Peace and War! Peace is a reaction to your circumstances. You look around yourself and things are going smoothly, no one is trying to kill you right now, so you say, "I am at peace!". But then you see that someone has wronged you, someone is trying to hurt you, or something is causing you severe pain and you think, "I am at war with this!". We go through these cycles, whether big or small, all the time. You can be at peace with your body or at war with it. You can be at peace with your family or at war with them. You can be at peace with your government or at war with them. There doesn't necessarily have to be gunfire (although there could be) for you to identify with either war or peace.
So, I say to you: FIND YOUR CENTER. Put the card down. Stop reacting to circumstance. Live in the now. Someone can be fighting with you without war. You can be relaxed in your life without peace. You do not need these extreme labels to determine your life. What is at the center of these two dualities? Action. Action is the antithesis of RE-action. Action is a calm and thought-out response to external circumstance. Instead of starting war with someone who is fighting with you, take action. If they punch you, you can dodge that punch and punch back. When they are subdued, you can return to calm. Or if you die, you will naturally return to calm.
Often in the extremes of duality we think we must react. But reaction is thoughtless. A mechanism of response without thought. You can zoom out of this careless reaction and return your life to intentional action by focusing on the bigger picture, not the tiny transgressions we get everyday. Fight when fighting is the due process to complete. Rest in calmness when no one is bothering you. The constant here is you being centered in the reality around you. Not pulled around by your card flipping over continuously. Peace. War. Peace. War. It will never end until you can throw the card away entirely.
I find non-duality starts with language. Try to find the top words you use that are dualistic. Like good & bad, right & wrong, life & death, freedom & slavery. Try to spend a few days taking notice of when you use these words. They will come up naturally. Then try to reframe the statements to make them non-dual.
I think she's a good partner. >>> She makes me feel safe, seen, and loved.
It's wrong to get to work late. >>> Getting to work late can be unhelpful to my coworkers.
I feel alive after this coffee! >>> This coffee is helping me be more productive, for sure!
Can't wait for this weekend's freedom. >>> I value the time I get to spend outside of work.
I'm not changing the context, only the duality. See how the second statements are also more informative? This is a big part of moving away from duality, especially when it comes to good and bad. We have gotten into a repetitive rut with these two words and words like them (like positive and negative). Once you start to notice how often you use good and bad you'll start to understand how deep these go. Make your language so much more valuable by moving beyond good and bad and other popular dualities. It starts in your language, but this can transform how your brain begins to think about these as well.
I have found freedom through learning to speak with less duality. Did you catch that dual term just then? I was just testing you! I have found transformation and a more easeful life through learning to speak with less duality! And now people call me out on it in my life, and I appreciate it because then I get the chance to correct it right then. If you're interested in moving beyond the learned mechanisms of the mind a transform your own mind, then start with non-duality.
INSPIRED ACTION: Try this exercise for a few days in a row and journal about what you learned. Have you been using duality more than you knew? Did you find it easeful to find new statements? How did you feel after you came up with the new statements? Tune in to how this subtly alters your perspective.