"The Divine Paradox"
The word paradox has a number of definitions and may be used in a number of fashions. The place to begin here is with a definition as to what we mean when we talk of paradox in reference to the Divine in this text. Paradox, then, will mean that two seemingly opposing statements can both be true at the same time; and yet, of and by itself, there remains a constant. A paradox, for our purpose, is the plane where opposition becomes a singularity where neither, or both, of the opposing forces can be true (and one) at the same time.
We must be careful that we do not use paradox as an excuse for contradiction. Paradox, as it is being used here, cannot be used to justify an untruth or an absolute contradiction. We could not use paradox to make two plus two equal five, even on a transcendent plane. A circle cannot be a square, although the line, which forms each, can be paradoxical because it houses the potential to be either, and, is still a line unto itself.
True paradoxes are hard for human beings to comprehend for we live in a world of duality where things are either positive or negative, yes or no, or have an opposite. Yet, ironically, we as human beings live a true paradox every second of our lives but it is so commonplace that we often fail to see it as paradox. This paradox is what we call "NOW": the instant where the past meets the present - where the moment is both the beginning and the end at the same instant. This idea of "NOW" fits the above definition because we can say that "NOW" is the beginning - we can refer to "NOW" as an end; and both statements would be perfectly true. We could also say that now is neither a beginning nor an end, because of itself, it is always the constant of being "NOW". This "NOW" is where all of the past ends; and at the same instant, our new beginnings begin with all the visions of the future unfolding before us. "NOW" is of itself a singularity, which merges beginning and end into a single instant so that either of the opposing forces can be applicable.
We will also-cite fire as another example of paradox in an effort to help the reader comprehend some of the points we shall be making. It must be stated here that fire is paradoxical only in a limited sense that we are using here, and, clarify that we are not making any scientific claims to its paradoxical nature.
Fire is an energy that is fire. Of, and by itself, it is neither good (positive) nor bad (negative). Fire is fire! Yet, fire, as it does what it does, is either positive or negative in terms of the human perception. We use fire every day to heat, cook, or perform a number of useful human services. The sun, with its seemingly eternal fire, provides the necessary element for life itself. On the other hand, fire can be a destructive force where we can lose property or life. The sun's fire has the potential to burn and harm us; and in this sense, it is bad or negative.
Yet, even in its seemingly negative side, such as a forest fire for example, the destruction can allow the earth to renew and enrich itself. Thus, from a human perspective the fire might be bad (negative,), but from Mother Earth's perspective the fire is positive and good. One might say that this paradox is purely subjective, but that is the point of the paradox - either opposing statement can be true, but in reality neither truly applies. Fire is fire, which is neither positive nor negative, while actually containing those opposing forces within its very nature.
While nothing is quite like God, for She is transcendent of our human perception in any concrete sense. These two examples of paradox can help us relate to God in a manner where we might avoid assigning Him human dualistic qualities, which often, put people at odds in their Image of God. God truly is - as He is! Of and by Herself She would be a singularity like the "NOW", where all opposing forces merge into one.
The metaphor of the Trinity gives excellent symbolic insight into the paradoxical nature of the Divine. In a very real sense She is three in one, the potential of the opposing; and yet; always a constant unto Herself.
The truth is, one needs to be very careful about making statements such as, "God is good," for, He transcends goodness as we could understand it. Nor could God be evil in any sense of our understanding, because God is perfection unto itself; being what She is, which is: the singularity where all opposition merges into one in perfect harmony.
God also becomes transcendent of being called an entity, a being, or a person. God is "BEING" itself, containing the potential for all the duality of existence emanating from this state of Being. It would seem that God houses, if you will, the positive and the negative of all Her creation in a blend that is very consistent with our example of "NOW". The very Scriptures tell us this:
"I Am the Alpha and Omega," says the Lord God, who 'Is', and who 'Was', and who 'Is to Come'; the sovereign Lord of all.
Thus, the Lord God, becomes the beginning and the end of all the creation, embodying all of its present, all of its past, and all of its future. And, as the "NOW", She is a constant and real that is ever changing. God, like time, is Singular yet all! She is Male and female! He is all and nothing, positive and negative, personal and Impersonal. God is all these things in the same Force that is infinite without beginning or end; making Him, transcendent of anything we can describe dogmatically in terms of our perceived dualistic reality.
God answered, "I AM, that is who I am. Tell them
that I AM has sent you to them."
Recognizing the paradox of God may be confusing, but our Image of God should be confusing. This type of approach could help us avoid the type of arrogance which has led to Christians telling Jews they are not saved; or the persecution of the Muslims in the crusades; or the slaughter of Native Americans in colonial America; or the self righteousness that so often prevails today; where, people sit in judgment of another's faith and beliefs.
God is bigger than any human definition. The Image we hold
of God may be the correct one for us for it could very well be a part of the
Divine circle that we need to see. But, another may need a different Image of
the Divine, or, they may be seeing a different part of the
Too often, theologically, we are living in a vacuum of
faith that is based upon a limited amount of revelation. The paradox allows us
to keep our faith, or Image, while at the same time allowing us to view God's
revelation through someone else's perspective. Ultimately, such can help us to
grow in our belief, because we are refining and adding to our Image of God in a
manner that is tolerant, "SEEKING," and capable of seeing more
There are other advantages, some psychological, to seeing this paradoxical reality of the Divine. If, for example, the human race is truly made in the Image and likeness of a paradoxical God, He/she would have to be both male and female at the same time; otherwise, one sex or the other would not be truly in God's Image. We could say that God is without gender, and this might be closer to the truth. But, if God is the Creator, and we recognize duality at least in Her Intellect; then the creation ought to reflect His Intellect - and, at that level, there are both male and female characteristics.
Such assertions about God are admittedly pure speculation at best, but what we must keep in mind is that all our intellectual declarations about God are truly nothing more than speculation. God can not be really known to the Intellect because She is transcendent of it! What we need to keep in mind is if we see God in this paradoxical way, there is no psychological advantage for one sex over the other. An Image of God having both genders is much healthier, and makes it much easier, to establish true equality of the sexes in a given society. For centuries, women have been second class citizens, at least in part, because we have assigned God a masculine Image based upon our Biblical interpretations.
But one can just as easily cite the Bible to support these paradoxical theological conclusions. We have two Creation stories in the Book of Genesis. Genesis 1: 26,27 supports the paradoxical nature of the Divine.
Then God said, "Let US make man in OUR Image and Likeness to rule the fish in the sea, the birds of the heavens, the cattle, .................. So, God created man in His own Image. In the Image of God He created them; male and female He created them.
It is the second creation account, which was written earlier than the first one quoted above (About 400 to 500 Years); people had less knowledge of the world around them. These people were very limited in their ability to understand the Divine they were finding in themselves. Yet, it is from these peoples, we have developed the patriarchal ideals so prevalent in our societies. In Genesis 2:20-25 we read:
...but for the man himself no partner had been found. And so the Lord God put man into a trance, and while he slept, he took one of his ribs and closed the flesh over the place. The Lord God then built up the rib, which he had taken out of man, into a woman. He brought her to man, and man said, "Now this - bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh! This shall be called woman, FOR FROM MAN THIS WAS TAKEN!" That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and the two become one flesh.
The many contradictions between these two creation accounts will be covered in the chapters dealing with scriptures. Suffice it to say here, that a paradoxical ideal of the Divine is very consistent with our Christian Bible. While this account above is the second in the book of Genesis, it is the first written. It can lead to sexism and a type of psychological mentality that makes men feel superior over woman in some way. We see the consequence of this doctrine in our history and are just beginning to overcome the bias it has delivered.
Now the paradoxical Image of God, in the book of Genesis, is written much later. It would seem that the inspired writers by this period could grasp the concept of a paradoxical God, referring to Him in the plural in these passages. But these writers grasped a significant truth from their inspiration; that, Men and women are the same in God.
So, God is what She is. He can be both male and female, the yin and the yang as the eastern religions see the Ultimate concern. A responsible theology needs to be very careful in presenting its Images of God, choosing paradoxical ground whenever it is possible. In this way, ideas do not cancel out each other. The supernatural can be part of the natural order, for singularities exist. And, God becomes big enough to be more than one thing at the same time, which is truly the symbolic concept expressed in the Trinity.
Kings 19: 11-13 gives us another example of the paradoxical essence of the Divine:
Then Yahweh himself went by. Thence came a mighty wind, so strong that it tore the mountains and shattered the rock before Yahweh. But Yahweh was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But Yahweh was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came fire; but, Yahweh was not in the fire. And after the fire came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with a cloak.
Of this passage, Karen Armstrong in her "HISTORY OF GOD" tells us:
Yahweh is not in any of the forces of nature but in a realm apart. He is experienced in the scarcely perceptible timbre of a tiny breeze in the paradox of a voiced silence.
It defies logic that our religions should resist the idea of paradox when it comes to God. Jung expresses it so nicely:
Without prejudice to my own subjective convictions I should like to raise the question: Is it not thinkable that when one refrains from setting oneself up as an 'arbiter mundi' and, deliberately renouncing all subjectivism, cherishes on the contrary belief, for instance, THAT GOD HAS EXPRESSED HIMSELF IN MANY LANGUAGES AND APPEARED IN DIVERSE FORMS AND THAT ALL THESE STATEMENTS ARE TRUE - is it not thinkable? I say, that this too is a decision. The objections raised, more particularly by Christians, that it is IMPOSSIBLE FOR CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS TO BE TRUE, must permit itself to be politely asked: Does one equal three? How can three be one? Can a mother be a virgin? And so on. Has it not yet been observed that all religious statements contain logical contradictions and assertions that are impossible in principle, THAT THIS IS IN FACT THE VERY ESSENCE of RELIGIOUS ASSERTION?
... If Christianity demands faith in such contradiction, it does not seem to me that it can very well condemn those who assert a few paradoxes more. Oddly enough, the PARADOX is one of our most VALUABLE SPIRITUAL POSSESSIONS, while uniformity of meaning is a sign of Weakness. Hence, a religion becomes inwardly impoverished when it loses or waters down its paradoxes; but their multiplication enriches because only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the FULLNESS OF LIFE. Non-ambiguity and non-contradiction are one-sided, and thus, not suited to EXPRESS THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE.
(C.G.Jung, PSYCHOLOGY AND ALCHEMY, Tr. R.F.C.
The paradoxical Image of God also might help us to resolve the conflict between good and evil, eliminating some of the projections we have built into our theologies; ultimately, placing the responsibility for evil where it belongs - that is, in our own lap!
So much of our present Christian theology is preoccupied with a war that exists between God and the Devil. While such concepts make neat little religious packages of dogma, they really do very little to help us on a road to fulfillment or salvation. In the first place, such ideas create projections, which justify evil to the point where we cannot control it, yet alone, overcome it. We become dependent upon God to rid us of the evil, for much of this theology contends: we are weak willed and unable to fend off the devil without the Divine. In other words, evil is the natural state.
Another, more philosophical argument about this separate God and Devil; is, that no matter how you slice it, God becomes the creator of evil! In order for there to be conscious choice and free will, one must have the potential to choose wrongly. Thus, God would have to endow we creatures with the potential to commit evil.
So as not to be misunderstood, in this discussion, it should be pointed out that because we are assigning the paradoxical quality to the Divine, we are not saying that God is evil. God cannot be evil, and therefore God cannot be good - for She is transcendent of such. But the force or power of evil (the actual existence of it in reality), just the same as goodness, comes from the "BEING" which allows it to be - which is God. It is human beings who make such evil by their choices, but the power of Satan and God are the same.
All we need to do to substantiate this paradoxical potential from the Divine is look to the natural creation. The natural forces take no heed to goodness or evil of a thing. One only need to look at the beauty, gentleness and sometimes touching side of nature, and then, contrast that with the violent harsh and often seemingly cruel aspects of it. Contrast a beautiful sunrise with the violence of a hurricane. Or, picture a bird feeding its young and contrasts that to a cat eating the bird for lunch. The desert provides the hot arid climate for its creatures, while the arctic offers the cold and ice to which its life forms have adjusted.
Nature can be often cruel; but she is never evil, for the cruelty serves the greater purpose for which it was intended, ultimately serving the goodness of the whole. The point is: violence and cruelty are necessary components of the natural order, but, only in humans’ can they become self-serving or so consuming that they lead to greed. While God uses such forces according to the actual need, always providing renewal or usefulness to such force; man often uses the Divine forces to his own selfish end, which is often at odds to the whole.
We might speculate that the will of God serves the greater good and never its own selfish end, whereas, human wills can be very self-serving and destructive to the common good. This is how we manifest the negative from God, which is what we term evil.
Thus, the terms good and evil can only apply to human beings, for we alone have the choice to be either. Evil will need its own separate discussion as to its definition, but for now suffice it to say, our definition will be: that which irresponsibly imposes its will causing needless destruction, hurt, pain, death, or oppression for selfish reasons or personal gain. A good example would be rape, where an individual gratifies one's self by forcing their desire upon another. Another might be theft, where we take what we want. It should be pointed out here that when we discuss morality we will quickly see that it is not so easy to define evil as in these simple examples, because, we do not have a full perception of all things. God could not act irresponsibly, nor selfishly, therefore the term 'evil' as used here does not apply to Her. But God does become the singularity that houses the positive and negative forces upon which we draw as the natural order so clearly demonstrates. And we must reiterate that negative forces do not necessarily have to be evil, any more than positive forces have to be good (see morality). In a sense, what we are saying here is, God and Satan are in a sense the same entity - this is why the myth has them almost equal in status. It is we who make the choice of whom we serve. It is we who are masters over our own destiny. It is we who misuse God's power of Being, therefore, we are the creators of the reality of Satan.
If we bear with this for a moment, thinking about it logically, we will quickly see the folly in our literal view of Satan. Realistically, God would have to be a real tyrant to create a being like Satan, one who is almost equal to Herself - one that He knew would revolt! Then, after creating it, allow it a free reign over us weak willed and somewhat powerless creatures. Moreover, it doesn't make any sense that God would allow Satan to tempt our first parents without any balance to help them make an enlightened decision about consuming the fruit of the tree. Again, it becomes literalism that stands in the way of seeing the forest through the trees.
Satan is in God's nature, just as evil is in the potential of fire, but the devil is in fact our own egos. Each of us having the Divine Image within us, and at the same time having free choice to determine our destiny and purpose, have the potential to actualize our being for evil purposes that are basically ego driven for self-gratification.
This is why in our childhood legends, the devil sits upon our left shoulder and God, or his representative, sits upon our right shoulder. God is a singularity, but we are not; therefore, we must choose and accept responsibility for how we will exercise the potential for being that we all have.
Simply put: Satan is the misuse of God's gift of life that is within ourselves. Evil is so alien to the Divine purpose that we perceive it as the opposite of God, which often leads to a projection for ridding ones self of the responsibility of misusing one's own life. We claim "the Devil made us do it," when it is we who freely choose to distort the precious gift God has given of Herself. In effect, we use the power of God against God. We justify our own failure by inventing this image of a devil that has immense power. In doing so, we psychologically lessen our ability to overcome the evil that is within ourselves, because the ultimate responsibility for the evil lies outside us (in the devil).
When one sees the true paradox of God, the Devil becomes nothing more than a distortion of God by us. Evil then, becomes the manipulation of goodness for selfish motivation by us, whereby; another aspect of the creation suffers because of us. Satan, therefore, is that which is contrary to the purpose for which God intended it. It is not God who creates the Devil, but we who turn the power of God (life's force or being) into the devil by the selfish distortion of its intended purpose. Without such potential choice, there is no free will or conscious awareness. The possibility of evil is the consequence of the Divine giving us conscious choice.
In this paradoxical Image then, we become responsible for the creation of Satan because it is we who choose how to actualize the potential that God has placed within all of us. The essence of God is in our own life force with all its potential for being. When, we choose to misuse or abuse that life force we turn the power of God against God, and, Satan becomes the result. The myth gives him control because we are in control of ourselves. We have power over our own actions! The myth makes him in the Image and likeness of God because we are in the likeness of God.
God has already saved us because God is also a part of us. All we need do is harmonize with the purpose for our creation. Salvation can not be achieved by doing battle with the self purpose; but rather, by doing battle with ego-selfishness, more commonly known as greed. The only way individuals can overcome evil is if we are willing to accept responsibility for it! We would like to reiterate here that the question of Evil will be dealt with in much greater depth in our discussions about evil and morality in Chapter Four of this work.
It should also be reemphasized that we are not saying God is evil. It would serve no more purpose to misconstrued this ideal and justify the existence of evil by placing the blame upon God; than, the existing belief in the devil. Like fire is a force or energy, God is our life Force or energy - the Source of being. What we do with this potential becomes our choice, and until we acknowledge this in our faith, we stand little chance in ever changing the darker aspects of the human condition.
Existing theology offers us a symbol for our ability to overcome evil that is its idea of "Grace". But unlike the many long-winded explanations, Grace is not given by God; but instead is already within us. That we are made in God's Image gives us grace, for Grace is a sharing in the life of God; thus, we are potentially capable of making the right choices necessary for us. To do this then, we must begin to accept responsibility for our own actions and cease from blaming a devil, or waiting for God, to solve the problems which He has already given us the power to solve for ourselves.
Seeing the paradox of God, that is, all the opposing forces of the universe in the one singularity from which they proceed, will lead us into our next section, which is the Diversity of God. But this theme of paradox will reoccur many times in the course of this text. This should not surprise or confuse the reader for in the end the creation itself is a composition of opposites that ebb and flow, balance and harmonize, to create the constant of existence. Reality would not be if it were not for the opposition of positive and negative. There could be no day, if there were no night. How could we have hot or cold if one or the other did not exist? We can only experience joy because of sorrow! Without bitterness, there is no sweetness. And so often, what is tragedy for one man is fortune for another. Creation is the birth of opposition in harmony!
Such is the paradoxical nature of reality, for if we were to remove the opposition, the counterpart could not stand. Even life and death are part of this intricate balance, for the life of one thing is dependent upon the death of another. This is the creation in its existence, and if this were created by an intellect, the design must reflect the Essence of the designer! If God gave us the best of Herself, than our reality is the best of all possible choices available to Him. If this is not the case than God cannot be considered a good Father or benevolent Creator!
Another area we can address with paradox in the Divine is the concept of the personal and impersonal God; disputed most noticeably in East verses West theologies. What is often ignored in this debate is that God once again here becomes in such perfect harmony that She is the singularity where it merges. Thus, God is concerned for every aspect of Her creation in a personal and individual way as Jesus proclaims:
Are not sparrows two a penny? Yet, without your Father's leave not one of them can fall to the ground. As for you, even the hairs on your head have all been counted
(Matthew 5: 43-48)
But God is equally concerned for the whole and its totality, as in this testimony from Jesus:
You have learned that they were told, "love your neighbor, hate your enemy". But I tell you this, "Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors; only so you can be children of the heavenly Father, Who makes His sun rise on the Good and bad alike, and
sends his rain on the honest and dishonest ... there must be no limit to your goodness as your heavenly Father's goodness knows no bounds.
(Matthew 5: 43-48)
Knowing the best of all probabilities allows God to be in the perfect harmony which is needed to produce all reality. The singularity then becomes the point where God can care for everything at the individual level, yet, at the same time balance the needs of that individual thing to the needs of the whole that She would care about equally. This is why true goodness is always concerned about how he or she affects things around them, whereas, evil has its roots in selfishness and greed. It is never the extreme that produces goodness, but a balance between the self need and the whole's need to the advantage of both. God has this balance because He is one with both; we can draw upon this balance because we can draw upon the Image of God within ourselves.
Recognizing God in this paradoxical manner when it comes to the personal and impersonal also has psychological advantages. We have the assurance that God cares about us and provides the best She can give (of course this doesn't mean we always take advantage of it). Yet, the impersonal aspect of God will help us to avoid a narcissism, which allows us to be so smug as to think all of creation exists simply for us as individuals, or, special groups of individuals. Finding God within our own being leads us to see Him in all that surrounds us, and this is the paradoxical mystery which can feed one's faith.
There needs to be a word of caution interjected about the paradoxical concepts that are being discussed. While this can be a very healthy Image of God, one must be careful it is not carried to such an extreme that it becomes the same non-productive belief that so many of our images take upon them. The paradox can be distorted in such a manner that it itself is used to justify evil, poverty, injustice and war. This is done by assigning the potential, which is in the Force of the Divine itself, the responsibility for the actualization in our reality - which is solely of our doing. In other words, in claiming that God in some way intended for the evil to happen, therefore there was no stopping it. On an orthodox level, the doctrine of the Redemption fits this criteria in that God willed the death of Her Son. If we begin to place the responsibility for the ills of the world in the Creator's lap we can end up very much like some of the eastern belief structures where the caste system becomes the projection to rid the society of responsibility for the atrocities just mentioned.
A way to avoid this projection is by calling to mind an earlier statement made here about contradiction. God would not be an "antithesis" of Herself, which would be yet another way of defining evil. Such would be a contradiction rather than a paradox or singularity. Even in its negative potential and manifestations, one must speculate that the Creator produces positive results. Something where nothing should be from the diversity of energy in the universe is an example of such positive results. Often, even when we commit evil, while it is our responsibility, God will compensate by providing some good coming from it. There are many examples of this, but that does not excuse our evil. Hitler might be one of the best examples. Medical science, rocket science, economic opportunity for many needy Germans (even the Jews getting a homeland after waiting a millennia): were all either directly, or indirectly, influenced by Hitler and his Nazi movement. And while his evil is inexcusable, and he and those who perpetrated this evil are totally responsible and accountable, the Source of our being has the potential to provide a balancing factor to even our most horrendous acts.
The key to recognizing the paradox is in leading us to take responsibility for our own actions, as well as allowing us to respect and tolerate those who may see the Divine differently. If the paradox does not serve that end, the faith in it does little to be productive in reality. The truth of any theology lies in what it creates; and never in what it says!
All this brings us to the final paradox to be discussed in this section. That being, the manifestation of the Divine paradox that becomes actualized in the Image of God in which we were made. It is far easier for us to recognize and accept the paradox in the Divine if we acknowledge it and see it within ourselves.
We are all a composite of opposing forces acting as a singularity known as an individual or person. All of us are a mixture of good and evil, masculine and feminine, creative and destructive: with an equal potential toward actualizing the opposition. We can give life or we can kill. We all have numerous personalities that in there extremes can be very dangerous or very loving. Most of the time people are a harmonious mixture of all these things, but, when we tip the balance, we can run into serious trouble. This is why we are in the Image of God, rather than being Godlike. God as a singularity would be seen as always in perfect balance. We, on the other hand, have to strive to maintain even a limited balance.
The myths and sacred revelations tell us over and over, in a number of ways, that the key to life lies in our ability to balance the paradox, which is within us, in a responsible manner. This balance would include the self with the whole; the needs of the self to the needs of the whole making sure we do not deprive others or waste in our own selfishness. It requires that we give back to others, as well as to the creation - in direct proportion to what we receive and take. It requires us to have the objectivity, to view ourselves as we are seen by others so that we can make harmonious decisions about our actions - beyond the blinding ability of our own ego. It requires us to develop empathy, so that even when we do not agree with others, we might see and respect where they are coming from.
This is another area we need to address in its entirety but has its roots in paradox. The idea of paradox creates a paradox in itself, for in viewing God as a paradox we will better be able to see the potential of paradox in ourselves. In recognizing our own paradoxical natures, we will be batter able to accept God in the paradoxical Image, which can be so constructive in our spiritual evolution. The constant (just the same as the constant "Now" in time) becomes the unity between us and the Divine - ultimately leading us to the harmony which is necessary to fulfill our individually created purpose.
The concept of paradox in the Divine is not new to Christianity, but the concept to expand upon it is. If we are to make any sense of our world and its reality, we need to Make sense of all the opposition in terms of the Creative Principle we believe in. Balance means, we must find integration of opposition that is harmonious in our religious attitudes, because denial and condemnation of what we perceive as unacceptable is a denial and condemnation of the creation itself.
If we look to our sacred revelations, inspirations, and real observations in a manner which strives to balance the variety of beliefs which exist, we will see greater truths and a more positive approach to this life than is possible in literalism or blind absolute faith. We will see that the message of God is both universal and paradoxical, yet remaining constant. In talking about the perception of fact, the author William James in his classic work "THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE," says:
It is notorious that facts are compatible with OPPOSITE emotional comments, since the same fact will inspire entirely different feelings in different persons, and at different times in the same person; and there is no rationally deducible connection between any outer fact and the sentiments it may happen to provoke. THESE HAVE THEIR SOURCE IN ANOTHER SPHERE OF EXISTENCE ALTOGETHER, IN THE ANIMAL AND SPIRITUAL REGION OF THE SUBJECT'S BEING.
James seems to be saying that truth depends on the Life Force and our use of it, and that this is what determines our perception, interpretation and reaction. We may all share common ideas, but the individual experiences them individually, and that may be totally different from someone else's experience of the same thing. For example, we all have an idea of what we refer to when we talk of the color blue, but whether we like it or not depends on how we as an individual see the color in our impression of it.
What is it that moves us in our differences of likes and dislikes, our philosophical concepts, our joys and our sorrows, our perceptions of good and evil? If one acknowledges the spiritual side of man, and that we are in the Image and likeness of God in that we share in Her Life Force, than, all the opposition of that Life Force is housed therein. James tells us later in the same chapter:
But provisionally, and as a matter of program and method, SINCE THE EVIL FACTS ARE GENUINE PARTS OF NATURE AS THE GOOD ONES, the philosophical presumption should be that THEY HAVE SOME RATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE, and that systematic healthy-mindedness, failing as it does to accord to sorrow, pain, and death any positive and active attention whatever, IS FORMALLY LESS COMPLETE THAN SYSTEMS THAT TRY AT LEAST TO INCLUDE THESE ELEMENTS IN THEIR SCOPE.
The Bible itself gives a most poetic view of the paradox in the reality of our existence. In the book of Ecclesiastes we read:
For everything has its season, and for every action
under the heaven, there is a time:
a time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time for mourning and a time for dancing;
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them;
a time for embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek and a time to loose;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to mend;
a time for silence and a time for speech;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace...
Whatever 'IS' has been already, and whatever is to
come has been already, and God summons each event
back in its turn. (3: 1-16)
All these things have their time because all these things are of God. The existence of the opposing forces is meant to be; it is only our misuse of the opposition that creates evil. Ultimately, each of us is our own devil!
The paradox cannot and should not be used as a catchall to justify any and all theological speculation. Paradox is not the end all of all dogmatic truths; but it is rather, a place to begin a search for Divine revelation consistent with the directive of Christ to "be like little children," approaching God with complete humility. Truth is seldom a cut and dry thing, very often requiring one to harmonize and compromise opposites to arrive at a proper conclusion. Just as we balance the flow of positive and negative electricity to give us our electric lights, so too it can be with the light of truth.
In the Nag Hammadi Manuscripts discover in 1947 in Egypt, in a book called the GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS, Jesus gives us one of the most beautiful examples of paradox in all of our inspired literature:
The disciples said to him: "Warn us how our end will be." Jesus replied, "Have you already discovered the beginning, now that you are asking about the end? Wherever the beginning is, there shall be the end. Blessed is it who stands at the beginning, for he understands without tasting death. Blessed is he who was, before he became.
God 'IS' because He is all that 'Is'. The Essence of what She is must be reflected in the design that proceeds from Him. Her power is actualized in both the positive and negative energies that fuel our cosmos and whatever may lie beyond it. God's magnificence lies before us in the harmonious functions of opposition, which produce the perfection of the universe we behold before our eyes.
To see the paradox in, and of, the Divine is to stand at the beginning and the end at the same instant. It is the "Now" of the spirit, which will allow us to move forward and continue to evolve. Just as the paradox of the "now" contributes to the physical evolution of human beings, the paradox of the "Divine" will aid our spiritual evolution. It is clear that our world is in dire need of an improved relationship with its Creative Force; and one only need look at our collective societies, to see the reality of this statement.
Our religions hold the symbols and the truths of this badly needed Divine Inspiration, which might very well improve our state of being. But, until we remove the blindfolds, which lead to projection and blame, we will fail to recognize God's truth in a manner that will help improve the condition of our world. Religion has often been an intricate part of human progress, but if it is to continue to serve in that role, its theology must recognize the folly in making dogmatic assertions about a Divine that is truly transcendent of our intellectual reasoning.
God is much more than any one of us can dare imagine. Responsible theology must avoid the pitfall of presenting an Image of God, which presents the individual from relating to God in the manner that God chooses to reveal Herself to them.
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