Life often grapples with the seemingly contradictory. Wrestles with what appears, on the surface at least, to be irreconcilable ideas or characteristics. But if we’re to actually thrive in life, we must sometimes seek wisdom in supposed opposites. Where appropriate, we must confront simplistic and unhealthy dualisms, And, instead, find meaning in dynamic dualities. We must become more comfortable with queries, not just conclusions. Must live with curiosity, not just closure. Strive for discovery and wonder, not finality. Empower our inner courage, not our over-exercised need for security. And more creatively, expansively embrace the very paradox of living. Our reward for doing so isn’t the ‘answer’ to life’s many mysteries. No, it’s something far more significant and meaningful than that. It’s a journey toward healthier, more inclusive human spirituality. And there’s no paradox whatsoever in that, to be sure.
The Paradox of Transcendence
As humans, we strive to know and follow God. Yet God transcends anything and everything that we can ever understand. We seek Divine spiritual truth, yet can never know it fully in our lives.
Given this, how can we humbly pursue what is spiritually true without making ‘it’ exclusive and singular? How can we find peace with our beliefs without making others wrong?
The Paradox of Being
As humans, we’re comprised of elements entirely non-human in their composition. Yet we’re also distinct and whole human beings in the actual manifestation of the creation process.
Given this, how can we better connect the wondrous diversity of what’s ‘inside’ of us to our healthy, whole persons on the ‘outside’?
The Paradox of Impermanence
As humans, we’re uniquely conscious of the inevitability of our own suffering and death. Yet we also seem to intrinsically know that God’s life energy in us is eternal in nature.
Given this, how can we better balance our inherent impermanence with our confident, energetic presence right now… and, in the process, make truly lasting, positive ‘ripples’ for everyone around us today?
The Paradox of Connection
As humans, we’re gifted with God’s own spark of light within us. We’re the outcome of God’s own conscious thought. Yet we sometimes feel ‘other than’ and separated from God in life.
Given this, how can we seek and recover God’s life-breath in our souls today in more open, inclusive ways: in other people, in nature, silence, prayer and meditation, in life itself, and through simply being ‘ourselves’ for a change?
The Paradox of Capacity
As humans, we’re created by God in love. We carry God’s own essence of love within us. Yet we’re capable of entirely non-loving thoughts and actions in our lives. We spend our days in the perplexing interplay of good and bad.
Given this, how can we get closer to our true ‘source’ today? And, in turn, stay more in tune with what is good about ourselves and others instead of judging by wholly unattainable standards?
The Paradox of Individual Identity
As humans, we’re fashioned by God to give ourselves fully in selfless love to our God and to others. Yet, in the process, we can unwittingly lose our own grounding of differentiated identity if we self-define ourselves by something or someone other than who we are as inherently special beings.
Given this, how can we strive to simultaneously ‘Find’ and ‘Lose’ ourselves today through our own care, generosity and compassion in this life?
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh… So right now, in the very instant of groundlessness, is the seed of taking care of those who need our care and of discovering our goodness.”
Pema Chodron, author and teacher