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Duality of existence by vinay paranjpe, 2006
Published 28 January 2006 :: Other
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Duality of existence

It is very difficult normally to understand the duality of existence. Every individual has within himself or herself a “split-personality “ so to say! Dual existence is a reality, which is unavoidable! In fact, one may even go further and say that several personalities co-exist within each individual.

In the normal course of day-to-day living, we all are subjected to distinctly different environments in rapid succession! Now let us digress a little and try to understand what makes an environment! One could say that “a set of values” make an environment! How is that one may ask!?

It’s like this – take for example a home. We live there with our parents, siblings, spouse and children. Often more than one generation live together under the same roof! Although individually the set of values each has faith in, may vary, there would pre-dominate in the house, “a particular set of broad based values”! Our behavior in the house is molded or rather influenced by those broad-based value system which by and large runs the household. Value systems in the home are largely to do with moral aspects of life.

Now lets look at the work environment – here, the set of values or the guiding principal is based on a different purpose or goal. The workplace, which belongs to an organization, usually has some mission that defines the set of values that rule the behavior of the individuals there. The same holds true for children with respect to their school.

Now, it will be clear that work place will actually make us appear different from what we are at home! Often, there is no resemblance to the two behaviors in the same individual! Persons, who are amazingly tolerant at the work-place are often extremely irritable at home. Of course, the fact that home is a place where you want to unwind from pressure etc., also adds to the gap in behavioral pattern but essentially the point here is that the “same” individual “ in a different environment appears to be different. Obviously, opinions about the person will be different if it is solicited from individuals in the two different areas! Where one could appear as calm, steady and collected in one area, it could be exactly the opposite in the other area!

The question is not about which one is the “real” person. The question is how to live with the two persons within oneself! It is very difficult, to say the least! In today’s age, individuals spend more time at their work places than at their homes. It also means that they spend more time with their colleagues than their own blood relatives. Opinions fly in the work places. Each individual hears things about himself/herself and slowly but surely begins to believe that the “real” him or “her” is the one outside the home! This is mental baggage. It starts to influence the individuals’ perspective about people at home, little realizing that the others too have another personality! But then often, Man is but a victim of circumstances and it leaves one rather flabbergasted by the same! Confused and bewildered, its starts to form opinions about the world from half a perspective. One says half, because as you can see, the part which is influencing is only but a part of the whole within the individual!

In our times, the relative existence has had added meaning. One could almost say that in this age, it is easier for Maya to confuse people than in any other age.

Material well being is the focus of most individuals as it apparently appears to be essential to one’s comfortable existence. Little does one realize that the definition of comfort changes with time, place, age and circumstances!! For example, and I remember reading this somewhere – “ Absence of pleasure is pain in youth and absence of pain is pleasure in old age!!”

Duality in every facet of life has to be faced. How one faces it determines the extent of evolution of the individual! Since time immemorial the ancient seers in every civilization have stressed on the need to maintain mental equanimity. Our sages, discovered during their contemplation that mental equilibrium is the key to fast evolution. One may ask here as to what is meant by evolution?! Evolution merely means the process of accumulation of knowledge and inculcating the same within oneself, which will eradicate the rule of emotions in an individual. Yes, ordinarily, emotions rule our actions. We rarely act, we usually “re-act” to circumstances. (Circumstances could mean any external stimulus-people, weather, event etc) The way to knowledge, our Masters tell us is to try and avoid “re-acting” to circumstances. Often it is a moment that makes or breaks us. We should try and let it pass. Allowing ourselves time, automatically enables us to “see” and understand situations.

In time one realizes that everything being relative, nothing really matters in the long run. Our small and often insignificant idiosyncrasies may please us at that time, but if it does cause hurt to someone else, it becomes a cause of niggling pain later on.

Several schools of thought proclaim” one’s life is too short to really bother with these things”! Another school proclaims – “ Life is too short – please bother about these things!! See – duality does not leave us in peace anywhere!

This brings us to the original question about the individual and one’s various personalities! Well, to start with, since we ourselves have the split within us, the management of “mending” should also begin within oneself! Here again the ancient seers help us. They say that the effort has to be multi-pronged as the personalities are also multi-farious!

To begin with, they tell us to give up ownership of all action! This is rather difficult to understand and we will look at it a little later. Secondly they tell us to “observe” ourselves. The “shakshi bhav”, described by our seers is not to prompt us to be impersonal but rather to try and understand the cause-effect relation in any situation.

No situation is without a cause. The cause itself has another cause and so on. Often it’s a chain of cause and effect duality that engulfs us. This being the case, our action is evidently effected by a cause. So how can we logically claim effect to it! That’s one way of looking at it. There are several other ways which are elucidated in our major reference texts.

The observation part now – this is to be effected by allowing one-self time before acting in any situation. One may argue that some situations require split-second responses, but those situations do not occur everyday and will very likely not occur if we develop this practice of observing ourselves. This practice would include actually seeing everything that we do or think consciously. It does not however mean analyzing the observed actions or thoughts either. We have to let the explanation “occur” to one. Of-course a thought process will be put in motion at most times, but we must be careful to let it remain a thought process and not make it a “thinking process”. I sincerely hope here that the difference between thoughts, which occur to us and thinking which are inferences drawn up by us with reference to a data-base of experience within our brain, is clear to most.

Practicing this diligently, one would in the course of time, be able to maintain equanimity in most situations. That by itself would erase most of the complications that arise in our day to day existence!

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Author's description
everyone in reality has a split personality. It affects us unknowingly. some thoughts which occured to me on this.

MANOJ BUXANI, 10 February 2006:

SIVAGOPAL OJHA, 29 January 2006:
Nice reading.

Jyoti Bhojwani, 28 January 2006:
Very True!...

Scot Savage, 28 January 2006:
Wonderful essay!

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