One day, I saw a small boy running across a small fenced-in grass field. I was on the road.
He was a preschooler. A teacher was playfully chasing him and he was delightfully running away. It was a bright day. I was driving to pick up my son from his special-day autism preschool.
The contrast between the running boy and my playful son hit me like a vortex. I am usually not one to easily give in to grief. But at that moment, I couldn't drive anymore. I had to pull over and stop.
Years went by. My grief at the all the doors closing for my son on the presumption of his (dis)ability took another turn. Not that the grief wasn't there. And, not that happiness in our lives wasn't there. The turn just showed a new door. It was marked 'Opposite Pairs'. It had its basis on another earlier experience.
We were exiting from a hotel in San Francisco where we had stayed overnight. I remember holding my toddler son's hand and walking out. A group of protesters were outside, they were holding boards and protesting against that chain of hotels for some reason (wages, I think). They were walking silently in a circle right outside the exit. It was inconvenient for the guests. You had to cut across them to get to the car park. Some employees (not striking) had come outside on their chores and stood there, watching. Their look was a mix- annoyed, helpless, restless, angry.. In that scenario, it was impossible to not feel the strong emotions of both the groups.
The walking me had a split second -something. Which stayed. It was some kind of fleeting understanding.
They were the same! The two groups were wanting different outcomes, but the source of that want was the same! So strange, it is hard to explain. This feeling or knowing, as I term it, was -they were the same! The two sides weren't two sides. They was no side. The sides came from the center, they formed from a context taken in opposite directions from the center. The opposite exist because of each other. The difference, or the contrast only exists on the basis of the context. The contrast-context of those two sides collapsed in that split second.
It seems unfeeling to say that I could not see the two sides, that they collapsed. But the feeling was of such grounded centeredness and clarity, it stayed in the back of my mind.
Life went on. It took years for me to understand - and to analyze what I felt.
Fast forward- Opposites are the cornerstone of Maya. Imagine my shock when I stumbled on the philosophical explanation of Raga-Dvesha in Advaita, which is the same as Opposites.
You have to be able see Opposites to see Maya. Opposites annihilate each other and viola, you will see Maya. Or, if you see through Maya you will see the nature of Opposites. If you don't see Opposites you are not seeing Maya.
Within these years, as I was analyzing, I was also using the concept to intellectually get over some hardships. Even as I worked to better a situation to the best of my ability, when in the helplessness of it, I began to search for the Opposite of the main emotion and so, sought to balance it.
Pain at my son's suffering rests on Pleasure on his betterment. Sadness rests on Happiness. Ability rests on Disability. Hardship rests on Ease.
I searched for the Opposite whenever I felt a strong emotion. And tried to use it to re-center myself.
Let's see how Opposites come together to build Maya-