Subjective and Objective Points of View

Are mathematical equations found in the natural world? No. Mathematics is an abstraction – an artificial system of looking at the world. Mathematics is nothing more than a conceptual framework that we superimpose over the world for practical purposes.

The effects of the mathematical system are obvious with technology and modern life, but what about the subjective effects of mathematics? What does the study of mathematics do to the mathematician? It’s not hard to imagine a stereotypical mathematics nerd and the qualities that describe him – intelligent, utilitarian, dry. Mathematics is about analyzing, calculating, objectifying and rationalizing.

These are very practical skills, but they are not labels used to describe happy people. Would you say, “Joe is a very happy person. He is very calculating and rational.”

My point is that there are other ways of viewing (and thereby interacting with) the world. For example, the artist sees the world in terms of colour, texture, flavour and emotion. This kind of perception is more direct and grounded than the abstractions of mathematics. To appreciate the rich colour of a rose does not require the intermediary of numbers or a calculator.

So there is an objective approach to perception and a subjective approach. The objective approach is detached and practical. The subjective approach is engaged and enjoyable. In life we need both.

Problems arise when we are stuck in one point of view and don’t have the flexibility to shift as is appropriate to the situation. Too much objective analysis can cause us to miss out on the subjective experience and too little analysis can cause us to get stuck in an experience and prevent us from being able to step back and see with perspective.

These two points of view are yin and yang, which is the universal duality that exists through all levels of creation. Like mathematics, this knowledge is an abstraction but it is very revealing and practical.

Understanding yin and yang gives an impersonal objective perspective of the world which allows detachment, peace and skill in action.

Awareness of yin and yang also develops a personal subjective perspective of the world which reveals that life is a dance between Him and Her. As such, all life is rich, juicy, romantic and dramatic.

In a nutshell, knowledge of yin and yang brings balance, harmony and joy.


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