The Brahmanic Conception of the Problem of the Opposites

The Sanskrit term for the pair of opposites in the psychological sense is Dvandva. Besides the meaning of pair (particularly man and woman), it denotes strife, quarrel, combat, doubt, etc. The pairs of opposites were ordained by the Creator of the world:

” Moreover, in order to distinguish actions, he separated merit from demerit, and he caused the creature to be affected by the fairs of opposites, such as pain and pleasure.”

As further pairs of opposites, the commentator Kulluka names desire and anger, love and hate, hunger and thirst, care and folly, honour and disgrace. ” Beneath the pairs of opposites must this world suffer without ceasing.”

Not to allow oneself to be influenced by the pairs of opposites (Nirdvandva free, untouched by the opposites), but to raise oneself above them, is then an essentially ethical task, since freedom from the opposites leads to redemption.

In the following passages I give a series of examples :

When by the disposition [of his heart] he becomes indifferent to all objects, he obtains eternal happiness both in this world and after death. He who has in this manner gradually given up all attachments and is freed from all pairs of opposites reposes in Brahman alone.

“The Vedas speak of the three Gunas : nevertheless, O Arjuna be thou indifferent concerning the three Gunas, indifferent towards the opposites (nirdvandua), ever steadfast in courage”.

In the Yogasutra of Patanjali we find: “Then (in deepest contemplation, samadhi) cometh that state which is untroubled by the opposites.”

There he shakes off his good and evil deeds doth he shake off in that place ; they who are known unto him and are his friends take upon them his good deeds, but they who are not his friends, his evil works : and like one who faring fast in a chariot looketh down upon the chariot wheels, so upon day and night, upon good and evil deeds and upon all opposites, doth he look down ; but he, freed from good and evil deeds, as knower of Brahman, entereth into Brahman”

(To the one who is called to meditation). ” Whosoever overcometh desire and anger, the cleaving to the world and the lust of the senses ; whoso maketh himself free from the opposites, and relinquisheth the feeling of self (above all self -seeking), that one is released from expectation.”

Pandu, who desires to be a hermit, says : ” Clothed with dust, housed under the open sky, I will take my lodging at the root of a tree, surrendering all things loved as well as unloved, tasting neither grief nor pleasure, forfeiting blame and praise alike, neither cherishing hope, nor offering respect, free from the opposites (nirduandva), with neither fortune nor belongings.”

“Whosoever remaineth the same in living as in dying, in fortune as in misfortune, whether gaining or losing, in love and in hatred, will be redeemed. Whoso nothing pursueth and regardeth nothing of small account, whoso is free from the opposites (nirdvandua), whose soul knoweth no passion he is wholly delivered. Whosoever doeth neither right nor wrong, renouncing the treasure of (good and evil) deeds heaped up in former lives, whose soul is tranquil when the bodily elements vanish away, whoso holdeth himself free from the opposites, that one is redeemed.”

“Full thousand years have I enjoyed the things of sense, while still the craving for them springeth up unceasingly. These, therefore, will I renounce and direct my mind upon Brahma ; indifferent towards the opposites (nirdvandva) and f freed from
the feeling of self-will, I will roam with the wild (creatures).”

“Through forbearance to all creatures, through the ascetic life, through self-discipline and freedom from desire, through the vow and the blameless life, through equanimity and endurance of the opposites, will partake of the bliss in Brahma, who is without qualities.”

“Whosoever is free from overweening vanity and delusion and hath overcome the frailty of dependence, whoso remaineth faithful to the highest Atman, whose desires are extinguished, who remaineth untouched by the opposites of pleasure and pain that one released from delusion shall attain that imperishable state.”

It follows from these quotations that it is external opposites, such as heat and cold, which must first be denied psychic participation in order that extreme affective fluctuations like love and hatred, etc., may also be avoided. Affective fluctuations are the natural and constant accompaniments of every psychic antithesis hence of every antagonism of ideas, whether moral or otherwise.

Such affects, as we know by experience, are proportionately greater, the more the exciting factor affects the totality of the individual. The meaning of the Indian aim is therefore clear: its purpose is to redeem human nature altogether from the opposites, to attain a new life in Brahman, to win a state of deliverance, and at the same time God. Brahman, therefore, must signify the irrational union of the opposites hence their final overcoming.

Although Brahman, as the cause and creator of the world, has created the opposites, they must again be resolved in Him, if He is to signify the state of redemption. In the following passages I give a group of examples :

1. “Brahman is sat and asat, the existing and non-existing, satyam and asatyam, reality and unreality.”

2. ” In truth, there are two forms of Brahman ; the formed and the formless, the mortal and the immortal, the solid and the fluid, the definite and the indefinite.”

3. ” God, the creator of all things, the great Self, who dwelleth eternally in the hearts of men, is discernible by the heart, by the soul, by the mind ; who knoweth that, gaineth immortality. When the light hath dawned, then is there neither day nor night, neither being nor not-being.”

4. “Two things are eternal, in the infinite supreme Brahman contained, knowing and not-knowing. Perishable is not-knowing, eternal knowing, yet He who as lord controlleth them is the Other.”

5. “In the heart of this creature is concealed the Self, smaller than the small, greater than the great, By the grace of the Creator a man freed from desires and released from affliction beholdeth the majesty of the Self. Though sitting still, he
wandereth far; he extendeth over all, yet lieth in one place. Who is there, beside myself, able to know this God, who rejoiceth yet rejoiceth not ? “

6. “One there is without stirring and yet swift as thought Speeding hence, not even o’ertaken by the gods Standing still, it surpasseth all the runners the wind-god Wove among the strands of its being the primordial water.”

Resting, it is yet ever restless :
It is distant and yet so near.
It is indwelling in all things.
Yet is it outside everything.”

7. ” Like as a falcon or an eagle tiring after wide circuits in the windy spaces of heaven foldeth his wings and droppeth to quiet cover, so urgeth the spirit toward that state whose repose no desire troubleth nor delusion entereth.”

” That is its true being, from yearnings, from evil, and from fear delivered. Like unto a man in the embrace of a beloved wife, unaware of things without or things within, is the spirit that is embraced by the all-discerning self.” (Brahman) .”

” This one second is an ocean, free from duality : this, O King I is the world of Brahman. Thus Yajnavalkya taught him. This is his highest goal, this his dearest success, this his greatest world and this his supreme rapture.”

8. ” What is agile, flying and yet standing still. What breatheth yet draweth no breath, what closeth the eyes, What beareth the whole manifold Earth, And bringeth all together in unity.”

These quotations show, that Brahman is the reconciliation and dissolution of the opposites hence standing beyond them as an irrational factor. It is a divine essence as well as the Self (in a lesser degree, of course, than the analogous Atman-concept) ; it is also a definite psychological state, characterized by detachment from emotional fluctuations.

Since suffering is an affect, the release from affects means deliverance. Release from the fluctuations of affects, which means from the tension of opposites, is synonymous with the way of redemption that gradually leads to the state of Brahman. In a certain sense, therefore, Brahman is not only a state, but also a process, a “dure crdatrice “. It is, therefore, not surprising that the symbolical expression of this Brahman concept in the Upanishads makes use of all those symbols which I have termed libido symbols. ~Carl Jung, Psychological Types