Paradox – A Pathway to Peace and Expansion

The Mystery of Paradox

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…, “

Dear Heart Friend,

The above quote from the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is the great example of a paradoxical phrase. It tells about the time of chaos, conflicts, the time of despair and suffering on the one hand and joy and hope on the other.

I know it isn’t lost on you how much this quote sounds as if it is describing the mental and emotional political climate that is currently vibrating throughout the world. 

While this post is more about paradoxes, I confess that the current political climate offers me/us a platform to explore how paradoxes can be a port to a pathway that leads beyond contracted black or white, right or wrong thinking.

Frequently reminding myself of Rumi’s  famous statement, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there” has amplified my intention to move beyond judgemental thinking into deep listening and understanding.

As a result, this post is about how the ability to hold a paradox enables us to move beyond narrow thinking, into a more expansive experience of calm, peace and joy.

Most of you know what a paradox is, but as you know my style is to check the dictionary, and this is the common definition, “a paradox is a figure of speech in which a seemingly self-contradictory statement is nevertheless found–in some sense–to be true.”

Here are some classic examples of paradoxical statements:

Einstein said, “Before God, we are all equally wise and before God, we are all equally foolish.”

Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist anything but temptation.”

The New Testament provides this quote attributed to Jesus, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

As you can see in order to open one’s self to a more expansive understanding, it requires a ‘yes, and…’ rather than a ‘yes, but…’ kind of lens through which you look at life.  Let me ask you what are the lens through which you look at life?

Is the quality of your life determined by what happens to you or through the attitude that you bring to life?

Is your response to what happens to you influenced more by outside forces or through the way you look at and process ( a story you create) what happens?

Whether your answers to those questions were ‘ yes, and…’  or ‘yes, but…’ I believe you will appreciate the following exercise on perspectives.

Psychological Perspective Exercise

This famous image is a great exercise that reminds us of different perspectives. When you look at it what do you see? Is it two black faces looking at each other? Or is it a white vase? In order to see one or the other notice how you have to shift your focus. It’s almost impossible to see both at the same time, isn’t it?

But once you discern the faces, you see that both are true at the same time. It’s two black faces, and it’s a white vase. Even when you know this you have to flip your lens of perception back and forth to distinguish them. When you focus on one perspective, it’s hard not to lose the other.

From New Thought/Ancient Wisdom teachings we know the above exercise can be seen, experienced and understood similarly by using the terms personality or the soul perspective.

From the personality perspective of life where life happens to you, you feel powerless and fearful. It becomes easy to see how from this contracted energetic field of fear, the response of judgment,  complaining, criticizing, and/or blaming seem to be appropriate.

On the other hand, from the soul perspective of life where life happens through you, you understand that you are the only person you can change. Therefore you to look within with the awareness that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

The empowering realization is that by prayerfully looking within you give yourself an opportunity to see this situation, circumstance, or challenge differently. Seeing it differently very often requires you to hold the paradox of ‘yes, and….’

Different Perspectives Story

“A father from a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.  On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, ‘How was the trip?’

‘It was great, Dad.’

‘Did you see how poor people live?’ the father asked.

‘Oh yeah,’ said the son.

‘So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?’, asked the father

The son answered:

‘I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them. ‘

The boy’s father was speechless.

Then his son added, ‘Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”

In the context of this post on perspective and paradox, this story is a perfect setup to see that the father represents the personality perspective, and the son represents the soul perspective. Yes, I admit it. And yet, let me ask you, after pausing for a moment in order to give yourself an opportunity to see the story from a different perspective, are you able to go beyond right doing or wrongdoing and embrace the paradoxical perspective of yes, and …?

Why Should You Care About Paradox Anyway?

Consider with me perhaps one of the greatest paradoxes that exists in the Universe, our connectedness/oneness with God, with each other and yet our individualization.

What if our ego/personality focuses on how we are different from the rest of the world.

What if our soul lives when we experience how we are the same.

What if any time we separate our self from other people or from situations, we know our personality is in control.

What if at such times, as we shift our perspective to build connection we move into the soul.

What if as our picture of life becomes larger, more things make sense and we have a greater playing field for life to unfold – naturally.

I think it’s safe to say that Jesus lived the ultimate paradox. Whether he gazed at a child on his lap or a leper wanting to be healed; whether he looked at a prostitute or his own mother; whether he witnessed the joy of a wedding feast or the sorrow of loved ones weeping at the burial of a loved one; whether he observed his own disciples or his executioners ……..Jesus only saw God.

What a reminder of how developing our ability to hold the perspective of ‘yes, and…..’ moves us more toward the expansive field connection and of seeing the good in each other. A willingness to surrender the need to be right is key to experiencing more peace and expansion in life.

Example of UBUNTU Perspective

Teacher and author Wayne Dyer encapsulates the idea of holding the paradox of oneness and individualization as he writes, “As a holistic being you shatter the illusion of your separateness and reveal your connection to everything. This empowers you in a way that the ego-driven personality could never contemplate.”

 I love hearing from you. In today’s energetic field of divisiveness, How is the challenge of holding paradoxes working for you? Please comment in the comment box below. 

As we know, we are what we think all day long. Let’s align ourselves with the Infinite Source of Life and let Life flow through us as right action and true expression.

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LOL = Lots Of Love

Candy

The Quest – Your Spiritual Journey of Coming Home

Are We There Yet?

“The quest is a process — a journey – which can transform your life far beyond anything that you may now envision.”  —Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla

Dear Heart  Friend,

What comes to mind when you think of a quest? For many, the first thing that comes to mind is traveling. In some cases, it’s the thought of an adventure where you’re looking forward to seeing new places and meeting new people. In other situations, it may have been an unanticipated journey that was thrust upon you.

In most of the legends of quests, we find a major element is there is the hero or heroine on the brink of a major change. In Herman Melville’s classic quest story Moby Dick, Ishmael’s inner torment of depression is a call to return to adventure at sea. In The Wizard of Oz, it is a tornado which serves as a call to whisk Dorothy into her journey to Oz.

Maybe your call came in the form of a serious illness. Or maybe it was a nagging dissatisfaction with your life. Maybe it was suddenly losing a job or marriage. A call can be disguised in the thousand different forms.

The Quest – Yearning For Something More

Regardless of the form it takes, the yearning for “something more” stirs the heart 

The Quest For Something More
of the one who hears it, moving him or her into action. Whether the quest for that “something more” is joyful or unpleasant, most of us can recall coming home, taking a deep breath and saying, “aah, there’s no place like home.”

Remember Dorothy’s words before leaving Oz, “It’s that if ever I go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. . .”

Rather than a physical journey, this post is inviting us to explore our consciousness and how the inner quest for that “something more” is impacted by our thoughts and beliefs. They either foster’s a sense of connection with the Divine presence within, or fuels a sense of separation.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

No doubt you are familiar with the parable told by Jesus, which is the story of the Prodigal Son recorded in Luke 15:11-32. Taking artistic license here is my paraphrased version:

A son asked his wealthy father for his share of inheritance so that he could leave home. After going far away and squandering his entire fortune, he eventually found himself broke and homeless. Alone and hungry he would have eaten out of a dumpster If someone had helped him.

In his destitute state of mind, he couldn’t help remembering that his father’s servants were far better off than he was. Despite his great despair, humiliation and deep regret of his behavior he chose to go home.  In fear and trepidation of his father’s response, he hoped against hope that his father would take him back in.

Contrary to the son’s worst fears, when the father saw the son coming he ran out to meet him! Ecstatic at having his son come home to him, the father threw his arms around the young man and kissed him. He wouldn’t hear his son’s attempts to apologize. He not only lavished fine gifts on his son, he ordered the household staff to prepare an elegant banquet to celebrate his return. It was as if his son had never left home.

Cast of Characters and Their Symbolism

Whether this is your first exploration of your spiritual life or you’ve devoted your life to the inward journey, I know that it isn’t lost on you that in this story the son is about us. Isn’t it true that in different ways, methods and modes, we have all had experiences that represent leaving the consciousness of the Divine Presence within?

The father represents the Divine Presence (God) that’s within all creation. The following quote from The Center for Action and Contemplation eloquently and powerfully expresses the main point of this parable, which is the eternal and unconditional love of God for humankind. As you read this statement allow the meaning to marinate your consciousness with the magnitude of God’s love for you:

 “Even when all seems lost, when we awaken and turn to the Divine Presence (Father’s home) within we look up to see God running toward us with open arms. Suddenly we realize there is no place within us that is not encountered, embraced, and made whole in a love that does not even care to hear our litany of shortcomings and regrets. We Are profoundly loved by God without any foundations for being loved except Divine love itself.”

The father’s home represents love, inner peace, joy, rest and fulfillment. The journey away from home represents a state of consciousness where one feels separated and apart from God.

Holding The Paradox in Consciousness

Let me ask several paradoxical questions for your consideration:

Are we seeking for that which is seeking us?

Are we choosing or are we chosen?

Are we calling or are we being called?

Are we created out of a holy sacred essence from which we can be lost or can we never be separated from It?

The Egos Perspective

From our human experience, there is that part of our consciousness which is called by many the ego. As we know, the main survival mechanism of the ego is creating the sense of division and separation from our self, others, and more importantly, from that part of us that is deathless, birthless, changeless and sacred, often called the Sacred Self.

From the ego’s perspective, the felt sense of loss is a real experience. From that perspective, we would attempt to choose to answer the questions as a yes, no right or wrong.

Speaking for myself, I confess I have had my fair share of doubt, worry, and fear, which as you might imagine, fueled my sense of separation from the Divine Presence within.  

I have learned when I’m in an experience where I want to ask, “Where is God?” I find it useful to remind myself of the somewhat humorous axiom that if you feel disconnected or separated from your Divine Source, guess who moved? We know the answer to that one, don’t we?

In the past, I would beat myself up with regret for the negative thoughts, attitudes or behaviors which I had allowed to lead me away from my coveted conscious sense of inner peace, joy, and fulfillment.

Those moments now happen less frequently. However, the good news is when they do, I’m now able to catch myself more quickly and seize this awareness as an opportunity to compassionately open my consciousness to the loving, welcoming embrace of the Divine Presence within. I experience it as a much sweeter path to the greater expression of who I have come here to be.

The Spiritual Perspective

Beyond and above that, what if in truth we are never separated from our Source?  

What if at some level of consciousness there is nothing to forgive?

What if having this awareness supports you in more quickly responding to the call that is always pulsating within your being, calling you to come to a home that in truth never left you?

The following insightful quotes from several different spiritual perspectives may allow you to say yes to your human experience, and yet add . . . there’s something more.

The good news that parallels and goes beyond the prodigal son’s awakening and journey home is eloquently articulated by Ernest Holmes in his book, Words That Heal Today. In it he writes:

“There is a voice within that has never ceased speaking to us, a presence that has never ceased beckoning to us, a power greater than we, which has willed that we make this return Journey…How could this be unless the gift of life had already been made from the foundation of the world? How could this be unless life had willed it so? It could not.”

Are You There Yet?

A Course In Miracles encapsulates this idea with these statements:

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”

“Many are called but few are chosen”  should be…. “All are called, but few choose to listen.”

“The ego always seeks to divide and separate. The Holy Spirit always seeks to unify and heal.”

“Be not Afraid. We only start again an ancient journey long ago begun that but seems new. We have begun again upon the road we traveled on before and lost our way a little while. And now we try again.”

How powerful would be the expression of our lives if we held the conviction of St. Paul who boldly declares, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love . . . No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Finally, Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us, “If you want to be the hero of the story you’ve kind of got to answer the call.” 

ARE YOU THERE YET?

No Separation
No Separation

My hope for this post is that it has inspired you to join me with a resounding “YES, I AM CONVINCED NOTHING CAN SEPARATE ME FROM GOD’S LOVE.”

I love hearing from you. Would you comment in the comment box on your quest and journey of coming home? 

As we know, we are what we think all day long. Let’s align ourselves with the Infinite Source of Life and let Life flow through us as right action and true expression.

If you know of someone who may benefit from this post I would love it, if you would take a moment now to share it with them

If you would like more personal support, you may contact me through the contact box below.

As always, on this site, there are, affirmations, and meditations to support you on your journey to self-empowerment.

If you found value in this post please be the first of your friends to like and share it by clicking on one of the social media buttons below. You’re also invited to follow me on Twitter and like me on my Facebook page.

LOL = Lots Of Love

Candy