Unity and Duality

When one really looks at nature, say, whilst on a walk, or watching one of the many high fidelity nature documentaries currently on television; there comes a feeling of absolute awe and wonder.

The mere complexity of it all. The sheer interconnectedness, and inter-reliance of one element on another. At every level of detail, the world works as a single harmonised whole.

We humans, however, do not see things this way, in our day to day lives. Everything looks chopped up and categorised.

This is for good reason, because without being able to do so we could not discriminate safety from danger, food from not food, self from other. In other words, see everything through a lens of duality, where there exist polar opposites ad infinitum, down to the most granular of levels.

In our lodges, this is most notably represented by the chequered carpet. Those black and white squares represent the wide variety of the world – light and dark, beautiful and ugly, good and bad, easy and challenging, to name but a few examples.

In the words of the Emulation ritual: “…This points out the diversity of objects which decorate and adorn the creation, the animate as well as the inanimate parts thereof.”

Down at our day-to-day level, without being able to take a step back and view everything as a collective whole, we get stuck in a world of other and self.

This accounts for many of the problems that we face as a species, today, where discrimination and disunity is everywhere.

Photo by Mandy Choi on Unsplash

In the natural world where the animals and plants are all locked in their day-to-day concerns, whilst unaware of the pattern that holds it all together; there seems to be a question regarding where we, as humans, fit into all this.

Or even if there exists a pattern for us to fit into at all. Scripture informs us of a time when humans existed in harmony with the rest of the natural world, in a veritable paradise called Eden.

We can see this story as allegorical, casting the reader to a time when humankind was simpler, and more a part of the natural order, remaining innocent of the larger picture.

Perhaps, in those days, human beings were more instinctual and felt deeper connections with the world all around.

As the story progresses, there is a point where the characters eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If we look at this in terms of duality, however, could this not represent the knowledge of opposites, the positive and the negative?

In the same tradition it is told of how, after the eating of the fruit, the couple became aware of themselves and their nakedness.

They became self-aware; that is to say, aware of self as distinct from other.

Photo by Jeet Dhanoa on Unsplash

Perhaps, then, this harkens to a point in our deep psychological history, where we as a race became conceptually aware of the notion of true dualism, and ever since this has defined our reality.

An individual is aware of themselves as alone in a world where any wrong decision could cause lasting harm; a world that is hostile and alien to us, and the protection of “me and mine” is paramount because no one else is going to step in and save us.

No wonder news of anxiety and mental health issues grace our ears so much, these days.

Photo by Michelle Spollen on Unsplash

In the modern age, this way of being is even more exacerbated by social media, which convinces us that we are living in a connected world, when this couldn’t be further from the truth.

We are accelerating to the opposite pole to connectedness, and the brakes don’t seem to be working. The masses sharing on social media a corralled into silos and echo chambers by algorithms that literally know not what they do.

The end result? Increasing polarisation of opinion. The dualistic view has been with us down the generations, and it is rapidly on the rise.

Photo by Christopher Ott on Unsplash

Within this stormy sea of battling opinion and confusion, however, there is an island called Freemasonry.

Whilst the craft contains symbols denoting dualism and the notion of polar opposites, its candidate-based story leads the hero from this scattered state, into one of unity.

The culmination of this tale teaches us lessons about the symbolic death of the self, and a raising into a state of fellowship.

This fellowship is a running thread throughout Freemasonry; from the warm welcome we get both before and once we are initiated into the Order, to the lessons of mutual support, and even out into the world, where we are reminded that we should exert our talents to benefit mankind, and to act charitably when the need arises.

Within our Order, then, there is the reminder of the true reality that eludes our work-a-day perception: that all is connected in the most unfathomable and complex ways.

A change in one part of a system is felt by every other part of that system. To put it another way, that no person is an island.

Perhaps the secret we can gain from learning this most important lesson is that we all have a part to play in the world and in life.

Everything we do is as much the result of the wider world feeding into us as the state of the wider world being the result of our own thoughts and actions.

And so, it goes on, circulating around our vast ecosystem. Enmeshed as we are in this web of symbiosis, we can truly learn to find and express our purpose, if we but quiet our minds and observe.


In this there is both faith and hope.

Article by: Craig Weightman

Craig Weightman grew up in Hinckley, Leicestershire and was educated at the University of Leicester, gaining a degree in Psychology and Computer Science.

He was initiated into Freemasonry in 2003, and became master of his lodge in 2014.

Outside of his interests in Freemasonry, Craig is a lecturer in Computer Games Design and Computer Science at a college in Warwickshire. He also develops websites for businesses.

Craig is the author of 'A Journey in Stone'.


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Reproduced with permission from the publisher Lewis Masonic. All rights reserved.

Follow Craig on Twitter: @WeightmanCraig

Read about Craig’s work as a Senior lecturer in Games and Visual Effects, Staffordshire University


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A Journey in Stone

By: Craig Weightman

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