Erik Boomer, a whitewater kayaker, wrote this:
The first time I tipped over in my kayak when I was just starting out, you could say I was experiencing hell. It was dark, I couldn’t breathe, I was upside-down and strapped into this boat without any ideas about how to right myself. At the time I thought that was hell. After learning to roll I found heaven and hell were actually in the same place at the same time, it was just my fear and then my elation that defined them. Heaven was just as present when I was out of air, in the dark and afraid, as was hell. I get to choose heaven and hell every time I paddle …
What’s really awesome here is: “Heaven was just as present when I was out of air, in the dark and afraid …” And hell is just as present when we are elated and happy.
This is the lesson of non-dualism. No good without bad, no bad without good. In Zen we go so far as to say good is bad, and bad is good. It does not mean that it doesn’t matter — that there is no moral truth. It does not mean that at all.
“Good is bad, and bad is good” serves only as another example of cutting through our delusional view with skillful means. Don’t reject the paradox. Remember Erik Boomer, upside-down in the dark, gulping water, terrified. Where is heaven? Roll over, and gulp air.