Here is the formula: “There is the way things are. And there is the way things also are. And that’s the way things are.” This is symbolized neatly in the yin/yang of Taoism (Or Zen—Buddhism mingled with Taoism to become Zen, and I don’t know the historical moment yin/yang came into being). Yin is the way things are. Yang is the way things also are. And the circle containing them is the way things are. Reality, you might say, is one in its duality, in its polarity.
William Blake puts it beautifully: “Without Contraries, is no progression” (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). This means our work is “working it out.” We are always and forever “working it out.” We are always and forever needing to counter-balance, to compensate, to counteract our excesses and deficiencies. We go too far in one direction and have to be reeled in, called back, by the forces contained in the opposite direction. This is “finding the center” or “walking the straight and narrow.” We live on the boundary between yin and yang. We have to be “rounded out” by the opposition in order to “square ourselves with” that which is true and that which is also true. We find our way forward in a conversation with “the Contraries” within and without. We must be careful to not allow the opposites to cancel each other out, but to open each other, and ourselves, up to worlds, to possibilities, we could not imagine or enter on our own.
This opening is enabled by conversation with the opposites, among the opposites, between the opposites. Conversation enlarges, deepens, transforms, unites. Conversation is the way to the Way, individually and collectively. The kind of community that is required for living properly aligned with Inner and Outer Reality, centered, in synch, and on the Path, is a community of opposites, of polarities, where all persons take each other seriously, treat each other with the deepest respect, honor each other’s perspective, and allow conversation with one another to expand, deepen, and enlarge one’s own sense of how things are and what needs to be done in response. In this kind of community there is no one way of seeing, thinking, believing and doing. There is no sense of “our way” being the Right Way and “their way” being the Wrong Way. The right kind of community is not “one big happy family” in firm agreement about what to think, feel, believe and do. It is one that values contrary views and finds the way to the Way by taking all pertinent perspectives into account and allowing them to inform and guide the development of each participant in the community, but in the end, each participant is responsible for determining and doing what she, what he, thinks needs to be done in each situation as it arises.