“Really, the fundamental, ultimate mystery -- the only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets -- is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together.” - Alan Watts

di·chot·o·my

/dīˈkätəmē/
Noun

1. A division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.

In my own efforts towards self understanding and personal mastery, I have spent the past few years trying to find a balance. On one hand, I have been pursuing mastery of a martial art, while on the other, I have been studying a great deal of philosophy. Though these endeavors compliment each other below the surface, from a broad view they appear quite contradictory. How does one couple the constant push and striving for more in the pursuit of technical mastery with the acceptance and detachment of eastern philosophies?

Over the past few years, I have felt the weight of this inner struggle. I have always felt the need to constantly be working towards something. The moment one accomplishment had been reached, I instantly placed my sights on another. I found this quite conflicting for someone who valued living in the present moment knowing nothing was lacking. This ever present dichotomy has been a source of existential angst for some time… until recently.

Epiphanies are an odd event. Perhaps the journey towards epiphany is an unseen, steady process towards understanding. Likened to a combination safe, as you scroll the dial towards the inevitable correct combination you cannot tangibly see your progress.

You are working, working, working, then, with almost no warning: VOILA! You immediately reap the benefits of your previously unrecognized progress. I believe this to be a much more appropriate description of epiphanies than say, a random lightning strike of genius. We live in a world of cause and effect. Our thoughts are no exception to this.

This sudden moment of understanding came in reference to struggling with the dualistic nature of my own mind. It is this lesson which I hope to share with you through this writing:

Embrace your dichotomy to embrace yourself!

It seems the farther we go into the study of ourselves and this place, the more paradox appears. The universe is riddled with it. If one fights paradox he is destined to fail. It is all too consuming. The only salvation is to embrace your dichotomy. And this is where the epiphany occurred…

Your greatest attribute, that which allows you to accomplish most in life and the most treasured aspect of your being will also be the source of your greatest suffering.

If you look closely enough at your own life, I would imagine this would hold true for you as well. Once I realized this truth in my own being, I began to search for it in those closest to me. And there it was..

There it was. This very simple idea appeared to ring true for all I knew.

As a culture we tend to feel great pride towards our strengths, and shame for our weaknesses. It is time we take notice that these are two pieces of the same whole.

Strengths in one area mean that we have a certain amount of attributes that prove beneficial for that activity. However, as complex as our lives are, we are almost certainly engaging in an activity somewhere else that requires a completely different set of skills and abilities, sometimes the exact opposite. It only makes sense that being so far on one end of the continuum we are bound to lack on the other side. This is precisely the experience your particular existence requires.

Spark Your Growth

Acknowledge the existence of dichotomy in your own life.

Many feel the strains of this, but without knowing its source, we struggle to work through these frustrations. Recognize that your greatest weakness and greatest strength are two parts of the same whole, and that they must co-exist.

You are given the freedom to forgive yourself for your perceived “weakness”. Strength defines weakness. Weakness defines strength. It makes perfect sense that both would arise from the same place.

With this understanding we are able to view ourselves as a whole much more clearly. Yes, you may be coming up short in a few areas of life, but that is because you are succeeding in its polar opposite. You succeed because you fall short, and you fall short because you succeed. When you truly understand this idea it makes allowance for your shortcomings. It is from this place that you can now strive towards becoming a better version of whatever it is that you already are.

When you give your weakness permission to be because you understand that it is simply an expression of your strength, it tends to no longer be a weakness.

Embrace dichotomy.

Embrace yourself.

Build your fire