The Power of Paradox
I admit it—I love searching and sifting through the writings of the sages of the world’s spiritual traditions for inspiring and empowering bits and pieces of wisdom that remind me of what I really want to be doing with my life. Rising above those bits and pieces, I also like to look at the big picture—the overarching themes that, like golden threads, weave their way through all the traditions.
These themes, and there are many, show us that the world’s religious and spiritual traditions hold much in common. Their shared truths are so much stronger than the differences in the way they express those truths or put them into practice. At heart, they—and we—are connected.
One of the themes that runs through the world’s traditions, my favorite in fact, is paradox. That’s what this page is dedicated to, and it’s also what is at the heart of my newest book, Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving.
If you love such things as koans and wise words that can be both illusive and illumining, heart-stirring and mind-tickling at the same time, then paradox is for you.
What Is Paradox?
Here's how I describe paradox in Honor Yourself:
A paradox involves two elements, truths, principles, or perspectives that seem contradictory but are both true. “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times,” “all good leaders are servants,” and “the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know” are all paradoxes. Much of the mystery and meaning, the comedy and tragedy of life are based on paradox. Its most ardent champions are scientists (who are still trying to solve the paradoxes of physics), comedians (who make a living pointing out life’s everyday inconsistencies), and mystics, who believe we can glimpse the spiritual world while walking in the physical, the greatest paradox of all....
The principle of paradox is nondenominational. No matter what background we come from or tradition we espouse, we will confront it. Our job, say the sages, is to learn to flow with the cadences of life as the universe asks us to bring first one and then the other side of the paradox to the fore in our lives at the right time and the right place. As an enlightened pundit once said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.
Read more about paradox, examples of paradox, and the real reason for much of our stress in this excerpt from chapter one of Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving.
I'll be adding more musings about paradox and how you can use it to bring your life back into balance, so please visit again soon.