Is it possible for a statement to be both true and false? Try this one:
"This statement is false."
Makes you stop and think for a minute, doesn't it? The above is a classic example of self-reference, a common theme of paradox. If the sentence is false, then the statement is true. See the conundrum? This world that seems so perfectly ordered by science and logic is actually entangled with ambiguity and contradiction. Things are not as they seem.
In this week's episode of "The Rabbit Hole" on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra dives into the realm of paradox. As the philosopher Kierkegaard wrote, "One should not think slightingly of the paradoxical; for the paradox is the source of the thinker's passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without a feeling: a paltry mediocrity." And what is life without ambiguity?
Perhaps the most obvious -- and most troubling -- example of contradiction in our universe is the constant tension between creation and destruction. Just as effortlessly as nature witnesses the dawn of every new day, birthing new life and bearing fresh buds, it simultaneously wreaks havoc, destruction, and decay. We integrate this contradiction in our daily lives. Composted waste, or manure, provides the soil for our crops, animals and plants die so that others may be nourished, and hearts break so that individuals may mature and grow and make room for new love.
It is a hard reality to face, but one that nonetheless provides the balance for our existence. And it is reflected in many religious and spiritual traditions around the world, as well. There's the God of the Bible, who creates all of heaven and earth, but also occasionally sanctions floods and plagues. In Hinduism, the god Shiva is at once the kind benefactor and the fierce destroyer. In ancient Greek mythology, Apollo was the god of light, knowledge and healing, but he also had a vengeful heart and could just as quickly bring illness and hardship. Perhaps "holy" doesn't mean perfect or pure but instead complex, full of mystery and contradiction.
Are you comfortable with the paradox of existence? Can something be both funny and tragic? What happens if Pinocchio says, "My nose will grow now"?
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