The Principle of Complementarity, Symmetry, and Reciprocity


Danish Physicist Neils Bohr (1958:57) advanced the “principle of complementarity” in 1927. He saw particle opposites as complementary representations of the same reality, exhibiting an intimate relationship and interconnectedness at the tiniest level of existence. 

Eugene Wigner (in Wolf, 1981:139) emphasized this view when he said that: “The most general physical properties of any system must be expressed in terms of the complementary sets of that system,” while Michio Kaku (1998:4) expressed that: “One of the most remarkable features of Nature is that its basic laws have great unity and symmetry...” 

Though particles appear in contradictory ways, according to this principle, reality cannot be complete without the opposites and one cannot fully understand and appreciate reality without understanding its opposites. Opposites are not isolated, closed, or separate, but, as in a jigsaw puzzle, they form complementary pieces of the same reality; one cannot exist without the other.

This principle extends to the macro level. The Cosmos manifests itself in opposites and while opposites are innate in creation, there is, at the same time, equilibrium, symmetry, and complementarity, a cosmic principle, which Fritjof Capra (1975:124) interpreted as the “metaphysics of quantum theory.” 

Indeed, quantum physics teaches us that everything in the Cosmos, including all the elements in it, is a world of duality. It is this duality that is responsible for disorder and chaos in our world. At the same time, it is also this duality that is responsible for order and symmetry in our universe.

In the midst of polarity, there is reciprocity. There is reciprocal relationship between action and reaction as well as mutual attractiveness in positive and negative charges, in positive and negative poles, in electricity and magnetism, in the nuclear forces both at the microscopic and macroscopic levels.

It is good to be reminded again that from the perspective of science, positive and negative are equally necessary to produce light. The intense force of the lunar energy on our oceans is responsible for the low and high tides. We humans are 75% water. We are as much affected as the ocean is by the force of the lunar energy. Both tides can be good or bad to us. But humanity has now learned how to exploit these ebb and low tides to our full advantage. 

It doesn’t matter whether its effect on us is positive or not. What matters most is to reflect on the reasons why opposites exist. Perhaps, there is an imbalance in our energy state that needs to be corrected? Or, maybe we need some cleansing because of the toxicity that have accumulated in our mind and body over the years?

Meteorologists say that a storm or hurricane can be beneficial in the sense that it also cleanses our polluted atmosphere that has caused us so much bodily harm as well as mental suffering and anguish.

Duality is innate in the Cosmos for a reason and this is true also from the perspective of many religious beliefs. In Proverbs 16:4, it is written: “God made everything with a place and purpose; even the wicked are included.” Duality is part and parcel of the cosmic design. In Colossian s 1:15-20, we are told that this purpose is to be with God for eternity. To quote:

We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. 

In the world of the divine, while everything in creation is governed by opposites and dualities, harmony is possible if we are conscious of the “One.” For, as Omraam observed, there is only one unique reality but manifested to us as polarity. It is from this polarization that diverse forms and structures emerge and interact in great harmony and order.

Omraam recalled the legend that before everything came to be, there was the Holy One, the unity of the One, or Aleph, which is attributed to as the first letter of the alphabet (Alpha). In order to make Himself visible to the physical world, the Holy One has to become two, also attributed to the second letter of the alphabet Beth (or Beta). In creating the Cosmos, the Holy One had to manifest himself outside in opposites and thus become two. 

The Book of Concealment in Zohar is quoted to begin with these words: “The Book of Concealment is the book of the equilibrium of balance” and that “the symbol of balance or scales dominates the whole of creation” (Omraam, 2011).

The Rgveda, which is dated 5,000 years ago, already noted that while the physical Cosmos is marked by polarity, at its highest realm, it has oneness and unity. Consciousness transformed itself into opposites that make it possible for the opposites to be capable of self-consciousness.

But our exploration into the world of atoms does not end here. As physicists continued to cut atoms into pieces, they discovered that atoms and their sub-particles exhibit a dual behavior, either as solid particles or as waves, or even both at the same time.