Virtually any bit of wisdom, formulated in words, becomes on close examination, apparently contradictory. Or more properly stated, it becomes paradoxical. But I wouldn’t say that it is “a trick life plays,” but rather that it is in the nature of things. And specifically it is because the truth is not actually verbal, rather it is non-verbal. So when we try to put it into words it becomes, to some degree untrue because words are way down on the scale of life and are a kind of embodiment foreign to the truth itself. The words spoken are just vibrations in the air that strike the ear—they are not truth itself. Or the words are just lines and jots for the eyes laid out on page or screen—they are symbols pointing to the truth, but they are not the truth itself.
We know there is an interaction between language and thought. Thought shapes words, and words shape thought. For example, we may want to affirm unity, but not notice how language leads thought toward compartments and fragments. Language, with its many categories and divisions, is adapted to work with external or objective things. So, we may affirm a unified and holistic way of thinking but dress our thoughts in dualistic language that doesn’t fit what we’re trying to say. So when thought soars beyond the usual objective categories, our verbal habits may result in curious and paradoxical expressions. For example:
“There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.”— Niels Bohr
“It is a platitude as well as an occult paradox to say that in the midst of profound personality distress and unhappiness, the joy of the soul may be known and felt.”
— A Treatise on White Magic, Alice Bailey
“…it is necessary primarily to preserve the personality but be freed of egotism. To many, such an antithesis will seem absurd; for them, egotism is personality. The manifestation of a powerful personality devoted to the General Good is beyond the imagination of many, but without personality thinking would not have potency.”
We have all the time in the world, but there is no time to loose.
One must achieve detachment. But detachment is separation, and one must achieve unification that is the ultimate “attachment.”
We are to be oriented to the soul that takes us away from the world. At the same time we are to be oriented to humanity that involves us in the world.
The individual is of supreme importance, and at the same time not important at all because it is the larger whole that is important.
Death is the result of a living process.
All metaphysical teachings are full of abstract concepts, yet it is said that nothing abstract is of any use. What’s the use of anything abstract? Abstract floats lonely in the upper regions of the cosmic undefined.
Someone speaks about the concept of truth within and the need to turn within. Notice the paradox between this and the concept of unity. Since unity exists, turning within can also be turning without. Since unity exists, looking without can also be looking within. So it appears, that in broadening of consciousness, the distinction between inner and outer melts away.
Contradictions may be considered as different aspects of the same manifestation. But if one, then there is no contradiction.
“Nothing is farther than earth from heaven; nothing is nearer than heaven to earth.”
— Hare & Charles
“All high truth is the union of two contradictions.”
“The Fanatic Is The Man Who Cannot Understand A Paradox. Most fanatics, cranks, and madmen, are those who are unable to understand a paradox. Every truth has its opposite, which is also true. Sanity consist in understanding this; insanity in failing to see it.
Workable, every day truth is made up of two or more contradictions. The true doctrine is always the balance. For instance, the truth lies not in fate (determinism, predestination) nor in free will, but in both. Man is not a spirit, nor a brute; he is both. Whoever excludes wholly the one or the other from his idea of man is not so much untrue as he is crazy.”
— Frank Crane
Words seem to spring from classifications and division, yet the paradox is that
every word may become catalyst. So, ultimately, words bridge the gaps between divisions, yielding sparks of amazing cognition.
Intellect and Intuition
Suppose we say, “True intuition has nothing to do with the intellect.” Is this true? False? Something in between? The thought is both true and not true, depending on what we mean. It is true in the sense that intuition is “above” the mind. Certainly, intuition transcends the mind. At the same time, there is a relationship. Intuition must be expressed and embodied in the mind and heart on a personal level. That which we are on intuitive levels must become incarnate.
And here is the catch: unless the mind is well trained, controlled, developed, focused, integrated with the rest of the personality, then the intuition will not be able to express itself or will do so in an inadequate or distorted form. So, paradoxically, the mind and the harmonious integration of the personality as a whole are crucial to the unfoldment of intuition.
Without paradox appreciation, a thinker tends to latch on to one end of any given idea or statement which then degenerates into misleading dogma. Every metaphysical axiom, as mentally apprehended and expressed, demonstrates paradox. The essence of every right formulation is in between yes and no, where the truth is the golden mean between two poles. The faculty of seeing past divisions and contradictions to the underlying unity is a leap in perception, yet the failure to appreciate realistic divisions that are before our eyes is also ignorance—another paradox.
Adapted from my writings: