The Kybalion | The Duality & Rhythm of Life

Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you in part by Book of Zen, makers of wearable inspiration for a better world. Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from The Kybalion, published in 1912 by the Yogi Publication Society.

The Principle of Polarity, as taught by the ancient mystics, was that everything is dual. Everything has two poles. Everything has its pair of opposites—and that “opposites” are really only the two extremes of the same thing, with many varying degrees between them.

To illustrate: Heat and Cold, although opposites, are really the same thing, the differences consisting merely of degrees of the same thing. Look at your thermometer and see if you can discover where heat terminates and cold begins. There is no such thing as absolute heat or absolute cold—the two terms heat and cold simply indicate varying degrees of the same thing, and that same thing which manifests as heat and cold is merely a form, variety, and rate of Vibration.

So heat and cold are simply the two poles of that which we call heat—and the phenomena attendant thereupon are manifestations of the Principle of Polarity. The same Principle manifests in the case of Light and Darkness, which are the same thing, the difference consisting of varying degrees between the two poles of the phenomena.

Where does darkness leave off, and light begin? What is the difference between Large and Small? Between Hard and Soft? Between Black and White? Between Sharp and Dull? Between Noise and Quiet? Between High and Low? Between Positive and Negative? The Principle of Polarity explains these paradoxes, and no other Principle can supersede it.

The same Principle operates on the Mental Plane. Let us take a radical and extreme example—that of Love and Hate, two mental states apparently totally different. And yet there are degrees of Hate and degrees of Love, and a middle point in which we use the terms “Like” or “Dislike,” which shade into each other so gradually that sometimes we are at a loss to know whether we “like” or “dislike” or “neither.”

All are simply degrees of the same thing, as you will see if you will but think a moment. And, more than this, it is possible to change the vibrations of Hate to the vibrations of Love—in one’s own mind, and in the minds of others. For example, I am sure that many of you have had personal experiences of the involuntary rapid transition from Love to Hate, and the reverse.

Good and Evil are but the poles of the same thing, and the ancient mystics understood the art of transmuting Evil into Good, by means of an application of the Principle of Polarity. In short, the “Art of Polarization” becomes a phase of Mental Alchemy known and practiced by ancient and modern mystics alike. An understanding of the Principle will enable one to change their own Polarity, as well as that of others, if they will devote the time and study necessary to master the art.

Closely connected to the principle of polarity is the principle of rhythm, which says that everything manifests a measured motion; a to-and-from movement; a flow and inflow; a swing forward and backward; a pendulum-like movement; a tide-like ebb and flow; a high-tide and a low- tide—between the two-poles manifested on the physical, mental, or spiritual planes.

Rhythm manifests between the two poles established by the Principle of Polarity. This does not mean, however, that the pendulum of Rhythm swings to the extreme poles, for this rarely happens. In fact, it is difficult to establish the extreme polar opposites in the majority of cases. But the swing is ever toward one pole first and then the other.

There is always an action and reaction; an advance and a retreat; a rising and a sinking; manifested in all of the airs and phenomena of the Universe. Suns, worlds, people, animals, plants, minerals, forces, energy, mind and matter, yes, even Spirit, manifests this Principle. The Principle manifests in the creation and destruction of worlds; in the rise and fall of nations; in the life history of all things; and finally in the mental states of men and women.

Beginning with the manifestations of Spirit—of THE ALL—it will be noticed that there is ever the Outpouring and the Indrawing; the “Outbreathing and Inbreathing of Praana,” as the Brahmans word it. Universes are created; reach their extreme low point of materiality; and then begin in their upward swing. Suns spring into being, and then their height of power being reached, the process of retrogression begins, and after eons they become dead masses of matter, awaiting another impulse which starts again their inner energies into activity, and a new solar life cycle is begun.

Thus it is with all the worlds. They are born, grow, and die—only to be reborn. And thus it is with all the things of shape and form. They swing from action to reaction; from birth to death; from activity to inactivity—and then back again.

And thus it is with all living things; they are born, grow, and die—and then are reborn. So it is with all great movements, philosophies, creeds, fashions, governments, nations, growth, maturity, and decadence. The swing of the pendulum is ever in evidence.

Night follows day; and day night. The pendulum swings from Summer to Winter, and then back again. The corpuscles, atoms, molecules, and all masses of matter, swing around the circle of their nature. There is no such thing as absolute rest, or cessation from movement, and all movement partakes of rhythm.

This principle is of universal application. It may be applied to any question or phenomena. It may be applied to all phases of human activity. There is always the Rhythmic swing from one pole to the other. The Universal Pendulum is ever in motion. The Tides of Life flow in and out, according to Law.

The principle of rhythm is well understood by modern science, and is considered a universal law as applied to material things. But the mystics carry the principle much further, and know that its manifestations and influence extend to the mental activities of humankind, and that it accounts for the bewildering succession of moods, feelings, and other perplexing changes that we notice in ourselves.

The Hermetic Masters of ancient Greece discovered that while the Principle of Rhythm was invariable, and ever in evidence in mental phenomena, there still were two planes of its manifestation, so far as mental phenomena are concerned. They discovered that there were two general planes of Consciousness, the Lower and the Higher, the understanding of which enabled them to rise to the higher plane and thus escape the swing of the Rhythmic pendulum which manifested on the lower plane.

In other words, the swing of the pendulum occurred on the Unconscious Plane, and Consciousness was not affected. This they called the Law of Neutralization. Its operations consist in the raising of the Ego above the vibrations of the Unconscious Plane of mental activity, so that the negative-swing of the pendulum is not manifested in consciousness, and therefore you are not affected. It is akin to rising above a thing and letting it pass beneath you.

All individuals who have attained any degree of self- mastery, accomplish this, more or less unknowingly. By refusing to allow your moods and negative mental states to affect you, you are applying the Law of Neutralization. However, it is possible to carry this to a much higher degree of proficiency, and by the use of Will, attain a degree of Poise and Mental Firmness almost impossible to believe by those who allow themselves to be swung backward and forward by the mental pendulum of moods and feelings.

The importance of this will be appreciated by any thinking person who realizes what creatures of moods, feelings, and emotion the majority of people are, and how little mastery of themselves they manifest. If you will stop and consider a moment, you will realize how much these swings of Rhythm have affected you in your life—how a period of Enthusiasm has been invariably followed by an opposite feeling and mood of Depression. Likewise, your moods and periods of Courage have been succeeded by equal moods of Fear.

And so it has ever been with the majority of people—tides of feeling have ever risen and fallen with them, but they have never suspected the cause or reason of this mental phenomena. An understanding of the workings of this Principle will give you the key to the Mastery of these rhythmic swings of feeling, and will enable you to know yourself better and to avoid being carried away by these inflows and outflows.

The human Will is superior to the conscious manifestation of this Principle, although the Principle itself can never be destroyed. We MAY escape its effects, but the Principle operates, nevertheless. The pendulum ever swings, although we may escape being carried along with it.

There are other features of the operation of this Principle of Rhythm which we need to be aware of. There comes into its operations that which is known as the Law of Compensation. One of the definitions or meanings of the word Compensate is “to counterbalance”. It is this Law of Compensation to which the mystics refer to when they say: “The measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.”

The Law of Compensation is that the swing in one direction determines the swing in the opposite direction, or to the opposite pole—the one balances, or counterbalances, the other. On the Physical Plane we see many examples of this Law. The pendulum of the clock swings a certain distance to the right, and then an equal distance to the left. The seasons balance each other in the same way. The tides follow the same Law. And the same Law is manifested in all the phenomena of Rhythm.

The pendulum, with a short swing in one direction, has but a short swing in the other—while the long swing to the right invariably means the long swing to the left. An object hurled upward to a certain height has an equal distance to traverse on its return. The force with which a projectile is sent upward a mile is reproduced when the projectile returns to the earth on its return journey.

But the Hermetic Masters (or keepers of the sacred wisdom) carry it still further. They teach that our mental states are subject to the same Law. The individual who enjoys keenly, is subject to keen suffering; while the person who feels but little pain is capable of feeling but little joy. There are temperaments which permit but low degrees of enjoyment, and equally low degrees of suffering—while there are others which permit the most intense enjoyment, but also the most intense suffering. The rule is that the capacity for pain and pleasure, in each individual, is balanced. The Law of Compensation is in full operation here.

The Hermetic Masters also teach that before one is able to enjoy a certain degree of pleasure, he or she must have swung as far, proportionately, toward the other pole of feeling. The Negative precedes the Positive in this matter. That is to say, the pleasure is the Rhythmic swing (according to the Law of Compensation) for a degree of pain previously experienced either in the present life, or in a previous incarnation.

However, we are able, to a great degree, to escape the swing toward Pain, by the process of Neutralization, which was mentioned before. By rising on to the higher plane of the Ego, much of the experience that comes to those dwelling on the lower plane is avoided and escaped.

Remember that the Law of Compensation plays an important part in every life. You likely have noticed that one generally “pays the price” for anything one possesses or lacks. If you have one thing, you lack another—the balance is struck. No one can “keep their penny and have the bit of cake” at the same time. Everything has its pleasant and unpleasant sides. The things that one gains are always paid for by the things that one loses.

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