ALTERNATION and ANTAGONISM: The LAW of OPPOSITES
The masculine attracts the feminine and the feminine attracts the masculine. The positive attracts the negative and the negative attracts the positive. It is for this reason that the whole of life is subject to the law of Alternation – the LAW of OPPOSITES. In the morning, light dispels the darkness of night, and in the evening, shadows gather and darkness gains ground again. Does this mean that night is opposed to day and day to night? Yes and no. Yes, because light is the opposite of darkness; no, because day and night work together to create and sustain life. Think about these facts: before seeing the light of day a child spends nine months hidden in its mother's womb; before they can germinate, seeds have to spend some time in the ground; bees line their hives with wax because they need darkness in which to make honey. A great many things have to begin in darkness before they can come out into the light. Light and darkness represent entities, currents, and energies that nature uses in her work.
Opposite poles attract each other. This is why there is a mutual attraction between vices and virtues. You must not be scandalized by this. Why do you suppose angels come down to earth? Because human beings are so wretched and so much in need of their help. The saints are not known to be over fond of each others, but they get on very well with sinners. Neither are scientists particularly fond of their fellow scientists; they prefer ignorant laymen who are lost in admiration for their knowledge. This is just the way things are, and there is no need to rack your brains to find the reason. The important thing is to learn how to react in the different circumstances of life.
In every area and on every level of existence there is a constant alternation between opposites. Even within ourselves there is a constant succession of opposites: waking and sleeping, work and rest, health and sickness, weakness and strength, joy and sorrow – all these different states and conflicting energies are necessary. We call some of them 'good' and others 'evil', but the good and evil are friends. We must simply be watchful and aware of what is going on within us, knowing that after joy comes sorrow, after hope comes discouragement, and vice versa.
Have you experienced a moment of great joy? Then you must expect to be faced with something unpleasant, caused either by an external event, by those you associate with, or even – if you do not know how to sustain that state of joy – by yourself. Yes, you must be prepared for this, for if you are inattentive, you will be caught off your guard. You must not be lulled into inattention by your moments of great happiness. You must be on your guard, for the other side is always there, waiting to reveal itself, and if you are taken by surprise, you could lose all the benefit that you have gained. This is a law; everything is linked, and a movement in one region triggers a reaction in the opposite region.
One excellent aspect of this law is that when you are unhappy and discouraged, you can be sure that something good is already on its way. You will say: "well, that's all right then. We only have to wait." Yes, but there are several different ways of waiting. You can wait passively or you can wait actively, for it is possible to use those negative states as a source of energy. Why not do as I do? Oh yes, you are perhaps astonished to know that I, too, can feel dejected and discouraged. What do you expect? I am sometimes tired, sad, and disappointed just like everybody else. The great difference is that I know how to use my fatigue or dejection. Just by way of an example: the last few days of a waning moon are often a difficult period for me. Both psychically and physically I feel less well, but because I know this, I am not caught unaware. In fact, when I begin to feel that way, instead of trying to shrug it off immediately, I pander to it a little and greet it like an old friend. In this way I am able to use it, for this state is like the potting soil or manure that one digs in among the roots of flowers or bushes to make them hardier and more beautiful.
Tell yourselves that disappointment and distress can serve as a rich potting soil that will enhance the color and scent of your inner flowers. Yes, as you see, in this, too, there is an analogy with the physical plane. I can tell you this because I have experienced it for myself. All my life I have experimented in this way, because I realize how important it was to know how to respond on the psychic level to the different things that solicit us. Only if we understand this can we find the methods that will best help us to progress. So this is something that I have known for a long time: it is possible to draw energy from all one's inner states, even the most negative.
However, you must not misunderstand what I am saying. To make use of a negative state does not mean to sink yourself in it deliberately or take pleasure in it. I talked about this question at the Bonfin one summer, and a few days after that talk I noticed a young man who was going about with a long, mournful face. As he was someone who usually looked very cheerful and open, I spoke to him and asked him what the matter was. "I'm so disappointed," he replied. "My fiancée was supposed to arrive this week, but she telephoned to say that he work was holding her up." "And when will she be here?" I asked. "In three weeks." "Do you mean to say that that is why you have been going about with such a long face for the last few days?" "But, Master," he replied, "The other day, you said that when we feel sad we should not try to get rid of the sadness at once."
Dear, Lord, look at how people understand what I say! Really, there are moments when I am at a loss....but the brother was young, so I explained it to him again: "I did not say that when you were unhappy you should wallow in your unhappiness or try to prolong it, but that you should use it to do some spiritual work. In your case, you are disappointed because your fiancée cannot join you here as soon as you had hoped. Now, you can overcome your disappointment in various ways. For instance, you could try telling yourself that it does not matter, that it is all the same to you, and then look for some way of amusing yourself so as to forget about it. But that is not the best way. You could also use your disappointment by telling yourself: "Well, circumstances are delaying her, but if I think of her and send her even more light and love than usual, then I shall not miss her so much. In the mornings, I can imagine that she is sitting beside me and that we are being drawn up to the sun together." "You see, it is up to you to find images and thoughts that will help you. In this way you will be creating something beautiful and lasting, and when you meet again, both of you will feel that you have never really been apart. But if you cling to this dark, negative mood, you will be hurting yourself, and when your fiancée arrives and sees that sinister expression she will feel like running away again as fast as possible." After this, of course, that young brother was all smiles again.
The one thing that human beings most need is to understand the subtleties of their inner life. As I have already said, we all have our own inner laboratory and it is up to each one of us to find the elements that will help us adopt the right attitude. It is impossible to describe all these elements theoretically: we have to identify them for ourselves by reflecting on the events of our everyday lives.
But to revert to the LAW of OPPOSITES: it is a law that applies to both the external and the internal aspects of our lives. If, for instance, you show yourself to be capable, intelligent, and successful, you will be attacked. If you do not want people to criticize or ridicule you, you must be completely in significant. Do nothing and you will be left in peace. As soon as individuals are seen to have exceptional wealth, beauty, or intelligence, hordes of beings try to attack and plunder them. If your one desire is to work for the triumph of light, you must expect to be attacked by darkness. But the reverse is equally true: a manifestation of the world of darkness provokes the manifestation of light. Think of certain periods of history when the forces of evil ravaged the world and remember how many individuals raised their voices in defense of justice and integrity. If those horrifying events had never occurred, those people would never have had the opportunity to behave in such an exceptional way. The obvious conclusion is that if we have no enemies, we shall never get very far.
It is when we meet opposition that we are obliged to struggle, to exert ourselves and, in so doing, to discover our true worth. You will say that this is difficult. Yes, of course, it is difficult, but it is the only way to resolve our problems. Instead of always complaining and rebelling, therefore, be grateful to the Lord for your difficulties, for it is thanks to them that you will become truly strong. Evil is something which obliges human beings to work. In order to reform, to orientate ourselves to become inwardly harmonious, we have to combat our enemies.
There are two kinds of combat, however: one in which, after defeating your enemies, you destroy them, the other in which you spare them. If you destroy your adversaries, you will no longer need to struggle – and that will be catastrophic for you, for you will make no more progress. But if you spare them, they will always be there for you to struggle against, and you will become really strong. So many people try to get rid of their enemies, but what is the result when they succeed? They are not happy; they sense that something is missing, for they need to measure themselves against an adversary. So you must not destroy your enemies, you must simply learn how to use them in order to improve and become stronger – and in doing so you will be improving them too. But you will succeed in this only if you stop thinking of them as evil.
In any case, we can never make an absolute judgment about good and evil, for nothing is ever wholly good or wholly evil. There are aspects to even the best things in life that are not entirely good. Take the example of the beginning of spring. In one way it is marvelous, with the increase of light and warmth and the budding of new life in plants, but this new life also stimulates insects, and flies, caterpillars, wasps, aphids, and mosquitoes abound. Even in the best possible conditions, therefore, one should always take certain precautions. The ignorant are defeated whatever the conditions, whereas the wise, who know how to work, make progress even when conditions are at their worst.
Also, you must not forget that good and evil are so intimately bound together that the one often leads to the other. Take the case of technical progress, for instance: is it a good or an evil? A great many discoveries which began by being good have ended by doing great harm. I need not give you any examples: if you think about it, you will find them for yourselves. Then again, when you make plans to travel, to initiate a new relationship, or to move house, your plans may appear in a very positive light, but in fact, there will always be one aspect that you cannot foresee, and that is the final outcome. Or suppose you have tried to injure someone whom you see as a competitor, a rival, or an adversary: you may think that you have successfully eliminated him, but in reality you cannot know whether you have actually harmed him or not. Entities from the invisible world are always on the watch, and they can prevent human beings from carrying out their plans. If you were not prevented from doing what you had in mind, it may well be because they knew that they could deflect your action.
How can we tell whether something is good or evil? We have to wait before making a judgment. Only time will tell. We shall never understand this question unless we study examples in our own lives and in the history of humanity. It is obvious that many of those who have been greatly maligned and attacked have ended, thanks to a chain of circumstances, by finding success and happiness. Take, for example, the Old Testament story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph's brothers envied him so much that they decided to get rid of him, and one day, as they were guarding their flocks, they sold him to some merchants who were on their way to Egypt. In Egypt, the merchants sold Joseph to one of Pharaoh's officers, Potiphar, who was so impressed by Joseph's abilities that he made him overseer of his household. After a whole series of events, Joseph ended by becoming the minister of Pharaoh himself. This was his position when, years later, his brothers found him again. What a shock it must have been, and what remorse they must have felt when they remembered that they had wanted to kill him. And how did Joseph himself behave? Let us see what the Bible tells us:
Then Joseph said, "I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years: and there are five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh and Lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt."
Joseph states it quite clearly: it is God who uses the forces of evil to bring about good. For an evil is not Evil itself; and a good is not Good itself.
What about your own experience? Have you never witnessed events which seemed, at first sight, to be catastrophic and which turned out to be beneficial? Or perhaps, sadly, you have seen the reverse: happy events which turned out to be disasters because the people involved were not prepared to handle the situation.
Also, you must not forget that in everything you do there is always one force that drives you on and another that watches and bides its time. When you do something good, it is because you are urged on by the forces of good, but the forces of evil are watching you and waiting for the moment to make themselves felt. Above all, if you exaggerate and do more than is necessary, the forces of evil will devour the surplus – sometimes, in fact, they will devour all the good you have done. This is why one must not overstep the mark even in good; otherwise one inevitably triggers a contrary reaction. Why do people sometimes say that it is better to let well alone? Because when you try to improve on what is already good, you can trigger evil. Ah yes, the equilibrium of the balance!
What is essential is to be wide awake and vigilant. You must not only be aware that there are two forces, but you must also have recourse to a third, higher force. In this way you will be able to deal correctly with both. Once you really grasp this, you will understand the necessity of rising to the higher zone within you, the zone that remains unaffected by changes, and from within this zone you will learn how to work with the two opposing forces.
Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov