Understanding Duality: Discovering Meaning Within Polarity

Learn about the law of duality and how to navigate it for the best possible life experience

Life does not exist without death.

The concept of duality extends into every aspect of life as we learn to understand it. That’s why we will do a deep dive into this concept so that you can better navigate yourself within this bizarre realm of polarity.

Understanding the role of duality in spirituality

Duality masculine and feminine

Duality is a mechanism of the universe where every extreme has an opposite extreme – facilitating contrast, polarity, and experience.

Duality is a prevalent spiritual doctrine seen in many religions around the world including:

  • Taoism: The yin-yang symbol comes from Taoism, and depicts duality as complementary rather than opposing forces.
  • Hinduism: Teachings of Hinduism recognize duality as Advaita Vedānta, in which we strive to achieve states of nonduality (divine connection with spirit).
  • Buddhism: Duality is recognized especially within the context of happiness and suffering.
  • Zoroastrianism: This is where the concept of good and evil took root and the struggle for salvation.

Besides the above, duality is a prominent theme in Native American beliefs and shamanic traditions, where the people who follow these faiths believe in balance with the natural forces of nature. Masculinity and femininity are also a big part of these traditions, regarding the cardinal directions, elements, sun and moon, medicines, and spirits.

When many spiritual belief systems agree on the same concept, it’s worth looking into.

What is duality?

The foundation of our reality is based on duality because duality creates space for narrative and a broader expression of consciousness.

Duality infers two opposite conditions (or extremes) for any given phenomenon – creating a spectrum between A to B.

Without opposite but complementary values, one constituent cannot exist because there would be no contrast.

Our universe fundamentally works on the rule that there are two sides to every coin. There would be no contrast (which facilitates the experience of life) without duality. Everything would be the same.

Duality: Table of opposite points

Duality creates the narrative of life

The purpose of duality is to create contrast.

Contrast is what makes life such a diverse, interesting, and dynamic experience. Contrast is what facilitates such a broad expression of consciousness, and all of the wild things we can experience within this reality.

Every condition in life has two opposites. These opposites are connected via a spectrum from one extreme to another.

Light simply does not exist without darkness. The universe would break without it, which is why it’s considered a spiritual law of the universe. Likewise, how can good exist if there is no bad? Without the contrast, everything would be the same.

As each phenomenon can be seen as a string from A to B, reality is a ball of yarn.

Life is strange, bizarre, and just about every label you can imagine (and many you can’t) because there is so much contrast – facilitated by duality.

I know this can be a lot to wrap your head around but bear with me.

Look at duality as a platform of our universe to facilitate experience. If everything just was, without polarity or contrast, then we wouldn’t really have anything to experience here.

Duality can be applied to pretty much any condition.

If someone is very confident, the ability to be very shy must exist too. If something can be very big, there must also exist something very small, otherwise the label would be obsolete. Having the ability to be bored implies that the ability to be entertained also exists.

We are capable of having unique experiences in life because there are so many different strings holding reality together. Opposite conditions provide space for the narrative of life, and it sure makes it an adventure.

Understanding nonduality and states of totality


If duality exists, then surely nonduality must exist too, right?

Nonduality does exist, but not in this dimension. People may tap into nonduality to experience the absolutism of consciousness, but this experience is a spiritual experience – attained by tapping into a deeper level of consciousness unbound to the human body.

Beyond duality is nonduality (which is also understood as totality, and perhaps ego death) which is a concept that is hard for our minds to conceptualize.

Nonduality is a state of consciousness where there is no division whatsoever. All existence is a singular phenomenon without difference, contrast, or polarity.  During experiences of totality, there is no separation or individuality. Everything simply is.

Here’s my view about how totality fits into the framework.

Different layers of consciousness can be understood as dimensions or realms. Within reality, duality exists because we live in a dualistic realm. We are separate individuals with pudgy bodies, but there are also states of consciousness where duality does not exist.

The further we journey into our souls, the more we converge with Godself (or god), which is a single consciousness that all things (and all dimensions) are manifestations of.

The Godself is the source of all existence. Within this realm of consciousness, there is nothing besides one infinite consciousness. We can have experiences of Godself while humans, but certainly we will return to this state of totality at some point along the soul journey because it is the core of what we truly are.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I break down this concept into a more digestible article here:

The duality of living: Integration and Wholeness


Life is a dynamic thing.

Humans are capable of creating anarchy and destruction, but also capable of peace and order. You can experience scarcity, pain, horror, and evil. You can have awful experiences, but life can also be equally blissful.

The world we see is not a purity of light or darkness, but an even distribution of both.

We can experience the beauty of life through positive attitudes, uplifting actions, and desirable emotions.

By seeing the world through a lens of beauty, you can create your version of heaven on Earth. As long as you seek out the good in life, there are so many amazing things that you can experience.

When the dark side of life is illuminated, you will see everything that’s wrong with this world. The suffering, greed, hostility, destruction, poverty, corruption, conflict, disease, fear, hatred, and sickness we all carry. Many people spend their lives caught in the dark side of duality, which turns their realities into personal hells.

For a more in-depth reading about good and bad, read the article below:

All experiences are complimentary

Dualistic paradigms such as positivity and negativity seem very different from one another, but they are complementary.

Pain is a deeply entwined part of our human lives. Suffering cannot be avoided, but it can be recognized and accepted as a fundamental part of the human condition.

The role of suffering is to drive wisdom, growth, and movement. Suffering illuminates what we don’t want, and calibrates us with a more fulfilling direction in life.

Part of what makes life so perfect is the contrast, the challenge, and the thrill of it all.

Think of it this way. Through conflict, we understand the importance of harmony. Experiencing painful emotions like resentment helps us recognize the importance of higher emotions such as forgiveness.

So when you’re going through something really difficult, think about how you can use the experience to make you a better person. What can you learn from your struggles, and what are your emotions trying to teach you?

We have been given the perfect boot camp to learn, boot camp Earth – it’s a tough one! We are free to experience all the contrast that the universe has to offer, and there’s so much to experience.

Navigating the duality of life and death

It doesn’t matter what your life situation is like. In the end, we all die. We will all be the same sooner or later – corpses decaying into nature.

All things are temporary, and it doesn’t matter what you have experienced in life or how successful you have been. Death does not discriminate or discern.

Rest assured knowing that in the end, it doesn’t matter. With life comes death, and we all have to go through it at some point. The more you treat your life as a learning opportunity, the more at peace you will be with the entire process.

By utilizing every learning opportunity, when your time is called, you will know that you’ve made the most of it.

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