The Reunion of Broken Parts (Algebra)

“The Book of Restoration and Balancing” is one translation of the book Hidab al-jabr wal-muqubala by  Mohammed ibn-Musa al-Khowarizmi. 825 AD in Bahgdad. Another is the “Reunion of Broken Parts”. The word “al-jabr” became our “algebra”.

There are many different ways we can convey our thoughts. Numbers and words are just a couple ways.

Most everybody is familiar with the most basic concept of algebra; that being “2=2”. Think of this as two numbers looking at themselves in a mirror. The first rule of algebra is; anything you do to one side, you have to do the same thing to the other side. The mirror image must remain a mirror image. Or you could say that the equation must always remain balanced.

It may not seem like it, but this is in fact a fundamental statement about the nature of reality. What if the same expression was written as “2-2=0”. With zero representing balance in this case. If one of the numbers in the expression “2-2” changes the other must change equally in order to maintain the balance, represented by “0”.  It doesn’t matter how complex the two numbers are, they must always remain balanced.

So now lets repeat the second verse of the Tao Te Ching:

All under heaven realizing beauty as beauty, wickedness already.
All realizing goodness as goodness, no goodness already.

Or I’ll try my own version:

Beauty combined with ugliness creates balance.

Goodness combined with evil creates balance.

In this view it is:

The concept of beauty which creates the concept of ugly. The concept of goodness which creates the concept of evil. The concept of 2 creates the concept of -2.

The Yin/Yang symbol is another way of expressing this same idea.


Another use of this concept comes to mind in Newton’s 3rd law of physics:

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

It may not be possible to grasp Reality, but the concept of balance seems to be closely associated with it. It is a kind of truth that keeps repeating itself over and over throughout history. Look at all the religions, look at history itself, look at science; I am confident you will find this recurring theme of balance showing itself over and over again in all these things.

Often we don’t see this balance in our own lives or even in the larger natural world around us. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some balancing happening in the larger scheme of things. Or that our pysches don’t reach out and yearn for some inner balancing. It is quite possible that as individuals and as a species it is our state to be a broken apart and always yearning to be rejoined with something larger than ourselves. Our constant striving as individuals would tend to point that way. And the religions we have created throughout the centuries also point that way. We feel broken somehow, and wish to be made whole again.

Could it be that all our stories are simple devices? Devices we use to reach out for that balance we yearn for? If that is so, then it is because we sense we are incomplete. We try reaching out- yearning to find that balance. Isn’t “love” just another way of trying to feel “whole” or should I say- balanced?

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