Contradictions, Paradox and Unity

walt-whitman1Way back in my high school days of Dead Poets Society and Oh Captain my Captain teenage angst poetry I remember loving this line by Walt Whitman:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

The older and hopefully wiser I get, the more I love that line.  It is true.

Sometimes in writing I worry about contradicting myself, like it will make me lose my credibility or make me look inconsistent or like I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about (which I have never claimed that I do, so if it turns out I don’t know what I’m talking about, there is no contradiction there).  But of course I contradict myself!  Contradicting myself doesn’t mean that I am inconsistent or hypocritical.  It simply means that life contradicts itself.

I also worry about contradicting others.  The other day I saw a friend of mine and she said to me “was this post about so-and-so?”  My first thought was – oh my God, people are actually reading what I write!  My second thought was – uh-oh, people are actually reading what I write.  How do I go about clarifying and refining my understandings without being anti-anything or giving anyone the impression I think they are wrong.  Doesn’t there have to be some form of “not this, not this, not this…”  Yet saying “not this” doesn’t negate the unity.  The unity is large, it contains multitudes.

I wrote in an earlier post about my concern about responding to something I disagree with in my posts.  I don’t want to be “anti” anyone or have my energy come across as disagreeable.  I want to embrace and unify and bring love.  And sometimes I hear something come out of someone that doesn’t feel 100% true to me and so I contemplate and ponder, I focus my awareness on what it is I am feeling and I gain more clarity inside myself.  Then I share that in my writing.

0124Like the other day, with my dear friend’s habitual “it’s all an illusion” utterances.  Yet when I emailed him and said hey, I wrote about you today, he replied that he was honored.  “I am truly honored…uh…in that i was mentioned in wonderful piece in such a loving way and that i could be a cause of such deep contemplations.”  And what’s more, he said that he really agrees with me that it is the separation that is an illusion and that the  “disengaging interpretation engenders apathy and by golly, boredom, ‘nothing matters because everything is an illusion…’  c’mon, what about living. (if talking to a dog, ‘flare those nostrils and experience the melange within each instant, free from the obscuring delusion of thought.)”

For every person that has said something that I have deeply listened to, contemplated and responded, I hope they would have the same experience.  I’m sure that they are just as sincere in their seeking as I am and that deep down inside they share the same longing to know Truth, to love God and to live in Unity and Happiness.  I hope we all get closer to the answers that we are seeking and that we can help each other along the way by comparing and contrasting, clarifying and refining, inspiring each other into deep contemplation and deeper understanding of this beautiful paradoxical vastness we live in.

Heck, half the time after I publish a post I think – oh, but the opposite is also true.  A few days later I’ll post something that says – oh, and I want to disagree with myself.

God is in Her very nature paradoxical.  God is a beautiful mystery.  In the vastness that is God, seemingly opposite things can both be true at the same time.  In fact, multiple things that seem contradictory can all be true. It is true that nothing matters because God will always win and happiness is inevitable for all living things.  It is also true that everything matters because it is up to us to stand with God and each moment that we prolong the suffering for any creature is a betrayal of our own loving nature.

goldeneggIn Hinduism there are multiple creation stories.  In one version the creation emerged from a Golden Cosmic Egg.  In another version, the great man-God Purusa was dismembered and each of his body parts formed a different caste of humans. The ancient Rig Veda gives a strikingly modern agnostic rendition – not so much a creation story as a creation pondering, stating that we don’t really know what happened and maybe even God doesn’t know:

“There was neither non-existence nor existence then… What stirred? Where? In whose protection?… Who really knows? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?… Perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not – the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven (God), only he knows – or perhaps he does not know.”

There is not one definitive truth of creation.  Yet, somehow, it doesn’t really bother Hindus in general.  No one seems to mind the blatant contradictions and multiple versions of events.  They are not so concerned with there only being one account of the creation of the universe.  I guess they just have an acceptance that the universe is large and it contains multitudes.  Just as there are hundreds of gods and only One God at the same time.  Hinduism is often depicted as “polytheist” but it is really radically monotheistic, seeing all gods, and indeed all of life, as a manifestation of the one Divine. The hundreds of gods are varying expressions or faces of the One God who is vast beyond all time and space – so vast that God contradicts Herself all the time!

It doesn’t make sense.  It’s not meant to.  It’s not possible for God in all Her vastness to make sense.  Yet She is the Supreme Order of the Universe.  Yet She is what feels like totally obvious common sense inside our hearts.

JesusLovesYouBeachI once saw a bumper sticker that said “Jesus loves you but I am his favorite.”  I know it was meant to be funny, but what struck me is that it was so perfect because it’s true. The only thing is, it’s true for every single person on the planet.  Jesus (and God) completely loves you the most out of every being in the universe – you are his favorite.  And you, too.  And you.  And so forth.  Jesus is vast, he contains multitudes.

God is a paradox.  I contradict myself.  Opposites are true.  Deal with it.

5 thoughts on “Contradictions, Paradox and Unity

  1. Even the number of our cells will differ tomorrow, how can our thoughts be constant? We are changing, evolving every “moment.” I think it is natural to have different opinions within time. You are not the same Shanti who wrote that post a couple of days ago, why should your thoughts be the same? Maybe the key here is again the classic wisdom, to accept and deal with it-as you say, what we experience, observe, and witness. Just witness the events, the feelings, the scenery that is projected from us, in balance. (And be happy :-) )
    I am also not comfortable with what to say to an opinion I may contradict, but as you know being honest always works. I think if we act polite out of respect and don’t impress our true opinions, that wouldn’t be a long term solution, since sooner or later there will be a platform of confrontation.
    Thank you for an honest you, as always.

    • Yes – it is true that we are always changing and even our cells renew themselves. AND it’s also true that at any one moment I might see two opposite things as completely true. So, even though I might contradict myself, sometimes it is from me changing my mind. Other times it’s not from me changing my mind but just because the truth is a paradox. :) It gets very mind bendy. So the important part, as you say – is just to accept it and be happy. And I’m glad to be bouncing ideas back and forth with you.

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