Richard Rohr on Paradox

Key in a keyhole

Spiritual teachers teach in the language of paradox and mystery and what seems like contradiction, but then they show us that it is not contradiction at all. I know paradox is not a word that we use much in our everyday life. Let me define a paradox very simply: A paradox is seeming contradiction which is not really contradictory at all if looked at from another angle or through a larger frame. A paradox always demands a change on the side of the observer. If we look at almost all things honestly we see everything has a character of paradox to it. Everything, including ourselves, and most especially God, has some seeming contradictions, some mysterious parts that we cannot understand or explain. Can you think of an exception?

Institutions, countries, groups, religions, and persons have many inherent contradictions. Understanding a paradox is to look at something long enough so as to overcome the contradiction and see things at a different level of consciousness. This should be one of the primary and totally predictable effects of authentic God experience. God surely greases the wheels of awareness and even the evolution of humanity by growing people toward a much higher capacity. Wouldn’t you expect God to have that effect?

Adapted from The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (CD)

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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