Alan Watts on the Involuntary and Voluntary Self:
It is contrast that defines experience. When of the self, it is the contrast of the other self that defines our position in relationships. When of the aspect of our own self-image, it is that which we less readily accept that defines what we hold to as our definition of identity and thus enjoyment and pleasure. This is identity and ability to enjoy is a measure of our relationship with our self and our relationship with our self’s relationship to the world.
If one fully embraces that which is in contrast to the self we voluntarily accept and acknowledge, then we can achieve a simultaneous increase in the self that is voluntary and controlled by choice.
They are both two sides of the same coin, one will not change without changing the other, yet you can’t get rid of either.
When this is embraced, it is like working backwards from the surface appearance of things. The lever for increasing experience is by acknowledging and controlling our reaction or response to what we don’t want to experience. Our capacity for adaptation to difficult situations counterbalances our ability for authentic enjoyment. Our capacity for enjoyment is benefited by our capacity to let go of enjoyment.
All things that appear to be two opposites are really one self-referencing idea.
This contrast derived, backwards, pro-jected, opposite, half-brained way of seeing is what humanity has developed as a surreptitious, serendipitous, and self-reflecting way of being through what we call “consciousness”.