Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Paradox

By Hans Kanters

The following content is an expanded form of a forum post.

The whole point of the path of knowledge is to arrive at perfect answers. By perfect I mean those that are obvious, self-evident and based on direct experience, direct knowing, and sound reason and logic. However, a seeker will soon encounter serious issues if he tries to be so strict and rigid. He may find that there are many answers, all of them can be called perfect in above sense. Sometimes they are contradictory, and still make sense. Soon he will find that this is the norm, not an exception. Almost everything is a paradox.


By paradox I mean statements that are apparently contradictory, yet perfect and more importantly the Mind can easily grasp why that is so. If the Mind cannot see through a paradox, it remains an unsolved puzzle, an incomplete piece of knowledge, or most of the time there is some error somewhere or an unfounded belief is hidden in the logic. A paradox is clean, logical and complete knowledge. There are no doubts about it.

Paradox is fundamental. Existence is basically paradoxical. Lets see some examples.
  • Existence is all that is "out" there, but it is also identical to the Self (consciousness) that's "in" here.
  • The Self is everything, it is infinite, but it is also a tiny point of nothingness.
  • Presence is pure emptiness, yet it is everything at the same time, there is no space in it, yet its infinite.
  • There is unity, yet we perceive it as multiplicity.
  • The Self is changeless background which experiences change, yet it is change itself.
  • The world is illusory, yet there is nothing as solid as that.
  • Mind conceals our true nature, but its the mind that takes us back there.
  • Knowledge is ignorance, yet knowledge itself brings us out of ignorance.
  • Realization is effortless and most natural, easier than breathing, but it also take a lot of effort and is immensely difficult.
  • A seeker seeks that which he already is.
  • All there is, is perfection, yet we see all sorts of imperfections around us.
  • Individuals have no free will of their own, yet we all act as if they have it.
  • Universe emerges out of randomness, yet is perfectly ordered and mathematical.
  • Physical universe is algorithmic and mathematical, yet mathematical systems are either incomplete or inconsistent (Godel's theorem).
  • Mathematical systems are so, yet we humans can see the logical truths that are unprovable. 
  • There is no ultimate purpose, but everything including our path seems to be purposeful and meaningful.
  • The only "reality" there can be is simulation ("fake").

I'm sure there must be many more such paradoxes. It all seems hopelessly nonsensical initially. But surprisingly it all makes sense. The mind blowing thing is that we can see through them. IMO, these arise out of the limitations of mind, which tries to desperately make sense out of something which is beyond its capability, and lands into the pit of paradox instead.

Well, the above paragraph is a paradox itself. First I say it all makes sense, then I say it doesn't. And that's how it is. We can see why it is so very easily. The paradoxical statements taken separately are meaningful, but when joined together they become apparently meaningless. That's because the mind encounters a logical difficulty while fully knowing that both statements are about the same thing and are perfectly valid.

But how are we able to put them together and make peace with the rational abilities of the mind? Because our experience tells us so. Only an experience gives us a complete picture, not logic. Experience overrides logic, always.

Interestingly, we can exploit the above to create a good definition of "truth". If you define truth as identical to your experience, all paradoxes resolve themselves. They are now all "true", there is no contradiction.

If its your experience, its your truth. And when I say "your truth" I mean it literally. Truth is subjective, everyone must "get" his own truth. What I say may or may not be true, it must be so for you also. When you are adamant about what is truth, you are merely enforcing your own experience on others. It may happen, and happens most of the time, that many do not agree. There are 7 billion versions of truth for anything out there.

Once you realize this fluidity of the word truth, you will be very careful in its use. I do that as much as possible, avoid calling something as truth, unless it is very obvious under the context. And once you realize that paradoxes underlie everything, you'd be very careful in making definitive statements. In other words, you start sounding as nebulous, self-contradicting and mysterious as a mystic. That's a compliment.

Truth of a statement can also be evaluated via logic. The prior condition for logical truths in order for them to work is - proper definitions. If you do not have axioms, nothing comes out of empty logic. The choice of axioms is arbitrary. In path of knowledge, the trick lies in choosing good axioms. What are good axioms? Obviously, ones that are derived from a direct experience. Rest are merely beliefs, ideas, assumptions, hypotheses, imaginations, made up BS, lies and what not. No matter how solid your logic is, the truths derived out of such axioms will never be perfect. BS in is BS out, not matter how hi-tech your computer is.

There is only experience, as we have seen, and so there is only truth, there cannot be anything else. So truth is one. There are no multiple truths. This may not seem right, but it is. Is it another example of a paradox? Aren't there little truths everywhere? It actually depends on how your mind wants to look at it. If it divides an experience, then the parts can be evaluated as true or false. We are in duality here, which is of course a byproduct of a functioning mind. In common language we say that there are levels of truth.

For example, its a common query that if everything is perfect, and the Self is all knowing and powerful, why is there ignorance and misery, why on earth the Self chose to appear in nasty forms we see all around us? Usually a mystic will just laugh and utter - why not? Most of the teachers will give a canned response of "why not" to such questions. And that is the only answer that makes sense. The teacher is trying to make you realize that you need to see the whole truth, not parts of it.

The part - everything is perfect - is true, that's your direct experience, and the other part that there is mess around us is also true and is obviously a direct experience. The problem is paradox. Minds do not deal with it elegantly. Mind is jumping from one level of truth to the other. Its jumping from nondual experience to dual experience, and it can't make any sense of it. The solution is - transcend mind, look at the experience. Its the whole truth. The whole truth is that there is perfection and imperfection simultaneously.

As an aside, you can go further and ask why. Because imperfect is also perfect. There is no law there that prohibits Self from manifesting as mess, and so it does. Presence is infinite, it has infinite potential. Self is infinitely free, so obviously all situations are allowed, perfection, imperfection, their combinations and overlays, both together and not there at all, all possibilities get expressed. And that's all you see.

One interesting result of defining the truth as above is as follows. Since truth is experience, and Self is nothing but experience itself, Self is the truth. Since there is nothing else there except the Self, the Self is the only truth there is. Everything else is false. So when you divide the Experiencing into the experienced and the experiencer, the experienced is false, just an illusion.

But wait, experienced stuff is also an experience an is the truth. So how...? Well, yes, it is the truth, even if it is false. That's what a paradox is :)


No comments:

Post a Comment