Things are hard, and yet we can do hard things:
Leaning into a non dual philosophy of Both/And
I want to unpack an idea that has been so healing to me lately. Both/And is an approach to logic that recognizes the non-dual and non-binary nature of reality. Sometimes called quantum logic, both/and logic comes from the discovery that energy travels both as particles and as waves (adorably, we call this movement a ‘wavicle’). Based in the quantum physics concept of non-locality and entanglement, this logic recognizes that opposites are complementary, and are actually not distinct from each other. A wavicle indicates that the wave-particle is not a duality. Both forms, or expressions, of matter are needed for a complete picture of how energy behaves.
Both/and incorporates the context of a situation and the interconnected relationships of things. It challenges the binary, dualistic logic of either/or, which is a more dominant way of thinking within modernity, where something either is, or is not, true.
I’ve been writing about this framework as it relates to intuition, since intuitive experience is supported when we accept that more than one thing can be true at a time.
A both/and logic is understood in science and spiritual traditions alike. And like the spiritual wisdom traditions (like Buddhism, Taoism, & Jainism) where it is found, I want to suggest both/and as a practice, not only a concept or thought or realization. As a practice, both/and brings an opportunity to grow perspective, and especially to gain experience with uncertainty and ambiguity (a top-tier leadership skill, btw, that’s only going to become more & more prized).
Again with the Uncertainty? Yes!
As I’ve written about before, we have a growing problem in our culture, where people grasp onto strange and harmful ideas because it’s so much more comfortable to feel certain about something than to hang out in the weird space of uncertainty. Our brains like certainty. We crave the security and safety of a sure thing. So when a situation or outcome isn’t clear, we tend to latch on to something – anything – that seems sure.
The logic of both/and is an antidote to this problem because it prioritizes the nuanced, lived experiences of the people behind any idea, concept, or slogan. With both/and, we can view things we normally think of as opposed, and see them as integrally interconnected. Body/mind, east/west, yes/no become non-dualistic pairings interacting in a dynamic flow. Transcending the binary, we might see a way out of a dilemma that ends up being bigger or deeper than either of the polarities offer on their own.
I’ve been relying on both/and logic to help me understand what’s going on politically, culturally, within my own household, and in my psyche. But it’s not a panacea. It’s … a practice.
The quantum physics that demonstrates uncertainty (where an electron is both there and not there at the same time) doesn’t hold up on the planes on existence we mostly perceive. Even in a world that contains indeterminacy, there is still the regular, gravity-driven world, where most of the objects we interact with are, indeed, determined.
By this logic, we can recognize that both/and is an elevated way to think about something and yet still crave the dopamine hit from being ‘right’ in the either/or sense. Similarly, we practice self-care and we care for our communities. We suffer under lockdown (from isolation, loss of income, online schooling) and we are trying our best to stay safely apart.
The point is, it’s both/and. Tell me below – how are you practicing both/and these days?