The Epic Play of Opposites, Playing Out in Our Lives

By on October 10, 2014

Life seems to be filled with a play of opposites. The patterns of life display a never-ending rhythmic dance of light and dark, peace and agitation, love and fear, coherence and chaos. Even though everybody acknowledges this ebb and flow of life, we try to suppress the “negative” side—that which we do not want. We imagine that if we are disciplined enough or use all the best manifestation techniques, we can somehow get rid of the shadow side of the equation. But the more we try to hold onto the “good”, the more the dragon wags its tail.

Practical Applications
How does this translate into everyday life or business challenges? You may be attached to holding onto the status quo in a family company that needs to go through drastic changes to keep up with the market. You feel caught between the opposing forces of tradition and the winds of change. Or you merge with another company whose corporate culture of logic/data doesn’t quite mesh your own company’s values of trust and voluntary cooperation. A clash of right and left brain values keep things from moving forward in a progressive way.

Dynamic Tension
This dynamic I could be called the “play of opposites”. When most people experience the conflicts of this dynamic, they try to minimize the conflict by decreasing the polarity. We soften our grip on one end of our desire or need of the time, but in the process, often relinquish some deep longing, such as fulfilling our vision or purpose. Maybe there is another way. There can be great power in holding the dynamic tension of this play of opposites. Hold it long enough until it resolves in a new, third field of life, that somehow embraces both opposites.

The Hero’s Quest
This is not some new, modern-age dilemma. It is as old as the sun. All the great heroes who have gone before us have encountered the challenges of the play of opposites. Whether it is Odysseus, longing to return home, but pulled in the opposite direction by the call of adventure and obstacles…or Frodo, longing for the simplicity of the Shire, but compelled to go on the most dangerous of missions by carrying the One Ring of Power…all those on great quests find themselves trying to ground their truth amidst life’s exalted pulls. Great epic myths take us into this sacred world of archetypal depth where all these values are magnified in the extreme. By following these heroes’ footsteps, we gain their knowledge, transformations and victories, even though it may be played out on the smaller scale of our personal lives. 

The Epic Ramayana
One of my favorite heroes’ journeys that illustrates this theme is known as the Ramayana. The Ramayana is a classic of world literature, and also one of the most well-known sacred stories of India and Southeast Asia. Over 3,000 years old, the Ramayana maybe the most ancient epic, and as the first “heroic quest”, has provided source material for many western myths and fairy tales. The Ramayana is the story of a divine being or avatar, who comes to earth as a man – Rama – to purify the world of the dark forces of ignorance. Along the way, Rama encounters an extraordinary play of opposing forces –seemingly excruciatingly irreconcilable opposites – until his ultimate victory.

Let’s see what we can learn from following Ram on his journey. Imagine you are Rama’s father, King Dasharatha, who is torn between the love of his son and his duty to uphold his word. He wishes to crown his beloved son as the prince regent, but in the past he has promised Rama’s stepmother Kaikeyi two boons. Cunningly, she now calls upon those boons–demanding that her own son be crowned and that Rama be exiled to the forest for fourteen years.

Heart & Mind
Or imagine yourself as Rama, who has just fought the greatest of battles to reunite with his beloved wife, Sita, who had been abducted by the King of demons, Ravanna. Even though he knows in his heart that Sita is pure, he must banish his precious wife from the kingdom to satisfy the doubts of the people from the impression that the king has reunited with a woman who may have been corrupted by living in a demon’s household for almost one year. In this situation, we feel the tremendous pull of emotion of the tug between heart and mind. How could Rama do this? But so many of life’s challenges come down to this theme—the never-ending pull between our heart and mind.

Herein lies the secret of great epics such as the Ramayana. This story is so vast, profound, and multi-layered that it contains virtually every dynamic of relationships and their unfolding pull between heart and mind. As we follow its epic journey, we explore every swing of emotion – – from the depths of despair to supreme ecstasy and everything in between. Again and again we encounter its apparently irreconcilable values, and we shake until we must transcend to a deeper level of synthesis, which embraces the opposites in a new way. Our consciousness expands exponentially in the process.

Evolution & the Play of Opposites
The punch line for life is ready to be revealed: Evolution proceeds through this play of opposites. It is not a “problem” to be rid of. It is simply one value emerging. Then its opposite value appears…and then transcendence. This is the actual mechanics by which we grow in life. That is why the heroic quests such as the Ramayana are such profound teaching vehicles for life. By following this lila on the magnified, mythic level of Ramayana, we train our consciousness to embrace, rather than resist, this exquisite play within our own life.

Remember to be steady in your Self the next time you are confronted by the challenging illusion of opposing forces. Surrender into the exquisite “fullness” of the opposition. By embracing this, you can transcend into a deeper fullness that somehow encompasses both. Inside That we find the the real field of victory!


About Michael Sternfeld

Producer and Body-centered Therapist Michael Sternfeld is a body-centered therapist, who has combined his professional dance background with bodywork skills and an MA in Vedic Psychology, to create an integrated embodiment approach called, Body Presence. He is also a world class producer of epic events, featuring some of the biggest names in the entertainment world, especially during a recent five-year stint as producer for the David Lynch Foundation. Learn more about Michael Sternfeld at Body Presence