Let’s invent a language. Let’s keep it as simple as possible.
Strawberry, air. That seems simple enough, right? Perhaps. But perhaps there is something that is both simpler and more accurate.
I am a strawberry. What is around me? What is the medium in which I find myself? The simplest way to describe it is “not-strawberry.”
But there is a problem here. It’s called perspective.
There is a 2D shape called strawberry. Which side is strawberry, and which side is not-strawberry? Who gets to claim the shape as self—the inside or the outside?
The area inside the strawberry says: I am strawberry. The world is not-strawberry, and it presses in.
The area outside the strawberry says: I am strawberry. The world is not-strawberry, and it presses out.
Instead of strawberry, let’s substitute light. Ot energy. Or matter.
The fundamental relationship is: self, not-self. But it can be flipped, and seen from the other direction.
I am the potassium that sits inside the cell. What is outside the cell? Not-potassium. Anti-potassium. Sodium.
I am the sodium that sits outside the cell. What is inside the cell? Not-sodium. Anti-sodium. Potassium.
I am the consciousness in charge of maintaining my body’s pH at a nice, neutral, ~pH7. But my job is trickier than it looks. Why? Because “sodium” and “potassium” (acidity and alkalinity) vary, depending on who is observing them.
The “not-self” is as much a self as the self, is it not?
Strawberry, not-strawberry. Air, not-air. The same scene can be described in two different ways. To the strawberry, the world presses inward, and is “not-strawberry.” To the air shaped like an anti-strawberry, the world presses outward, and is “strawberry.” These are two dramatically different ways of describing the same thing, the same fundamental shape.
What is a “controlled” explosion? It’s an explosion where the force pressing out is matched and balanced by an equal and opposite force pressing in. It’s an interesting arrangement, because the values can be assigned any number, so long as they match. You’ve got 12 thousand kilotons pressing out? No problem. I’ve got twelve thousand kilotons pressing in. Say, here’s an idea: You stop pressing out, and I’ll stop pressing in. Bit by bit, we’ll both release the pressure—lay down our arms, so to speak—until we get all the way back to zero. Then we can both call it a day, have a martini, and relax.