„It is something much more than simple duality or opposition. For to say that opposites are polar is to say much more than that they are far apart: it is to say that they are related and joined–that they are the terms, ends, or extremities of a single whole. Polar opposites are therefore inseparable opposites, like the poles of the earth or of a magnet, or the ends of a stick or the faces of a coin. Though what lies between the poles is more substantial than the poles themselves–since they are the abstract „terms“ rather than the concrete body–nevertheless man thinks in terms and therefore divides in thought what is undivided in nature. To think is to categorize, to sort experience into classes and intellectual pigeonholes. It is thus that, from the standpoint of thought, the all-important question is ever, „Is it this, or is it that?“ Is the experience inside, or is it outside? By answering such questions we describe and explain the world; we make it explicit. But implicitly, in nature herself, there are no classes. We drop these intellectual nets and boxes upon the world as we weave the imaginary lines of latitude and longitude upon the face of the earth and the, likewise imaginary, firmament of the stars. It is thus the imaginary, abstract, and conceptual character of these divisions which renders them polar. The importance of a box for thought is that the inside is different from the outside. But in nature the walls of a box are what the inside and the outside have in common.
⇒ It is thus when anyone draws attention to the implicit unity of polar opposites we feel something of a shock. For the foundations of thought are shaked by the suspicion that experiences and values which we had believed to be contrary and distinct are, after all, aspects of the same thing….
The basic point to be understood, then, is that it is simply impossible to improve either oneself or the world by force. Because you yourself are both the organism and its environment.“
From: Alan Watts, The Two Hands Of God, (pgs.49 & 50) and ‚Does it matter?‘ (pg.77)
„…oneself,“ in the ordinary sense of one’s ego, doesn’t exist. It seems to exist, in a way, in the same sense that the equator exists as an abstraction. The ego is not a psychological or physical organ, it’s a social convention, like the equator, like the clock or the calendar, or like the dollar bill. These social conventions are abstractions which we agree to treat as is if they did exist. We live in relation to the external world in just exactly the same way that one end of the stick exists in relation to the other end. The ends are indeed different, but they’re of the same stick.
Likewise, there is a polar relationship between what you call your „self“ and what you call „other.“ You couldn’t experience your „self“ unless you could experience „other,“ nor could you experience „other“ unless you also had the experience of „self.“ We might say that we feel that one’s „self“ and the „other“ are poles apart. Oddly, we use that phrase, „poles apart,“ to express extreme difference. But things that are „poles apart“ are poles of something, as of a magnet, or a globe, and so are actually inseparable. What happens if you saw the south pole off a magnet with a hacksaw? The new end, opposite the original north pole, becomes the south pole, and the piece that was chopped off develops its own north pole. The poles are inseparable and generate each other.“
From: Alan Watts, Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown, published 1974, (pg. 93.)