The two poles of a reactive pattern

From: Mind Training 15
Full transcript

Every pattern has two poles, which I choose to call expressive and receptive. Not active and passive, they aren’t quite precise. The very easy one you see is the bully/coward. The bully is the expressive and the coward is the receptive. Now, bully isn’t a pattern; coward isn’t a pattern. The pattern is bully/coward. And when you push on a bully and make it impossible for him to be a bully—threaten him so you’re bigger than he is—then he becomes a coward. And when a coward encounters a situation where cowardice doesn’t work, he flips into bully. Which is one of the reasons why some of the weakest people become the most vicious torturers, you know. The people who are weak inside become the most vicious torturers.
So, most of us, in a reactive pattern, identify primarily with either the expressive or the receptive pole. So, we often think of just the one side. But as you begin to work on, say the expressive pole, and it becomes more and more difficult for you to function in it, then you will flip and start behaving in exactly the opposite way. And what’s important to understand here is the pattern hasn’t disappeared, you’ve just picked up the train and reversed the train—it’s running on the same track.
So, when you start seeing this flip, now you’ve got to work on the other side, and the best way to do this is to hold the expressive and the receptive in attention at the same time. By doing that you will bring attention to the emotional issue that is driving the pattern as a whole and split into these two forms of expression.

More on this topic in: Buddhahood Without Meditation 9 |  Warrior's Solution 4