Paradox of Life

Life is filled so much of paradoxes. We often go in a wrong direction without realizing this. We all want to be happy, yet we unwittingly choose misery.

The more we resist, the more it persists!

The more we deny, the more it knocks!

The more we run away, the more it chases!

The more we chase, the less we get!

The more we hope, the more we fear!

The more we fear, the less we love!

The more we attach, the more we suffer!

The more we give, the more we receive!

The more we crave, the less it satisfies!

The more we expect, the more it disappoints!

The more we protect, the more it fails!

The more we complain, the more it bothers!

The more we try to fix, the more we damage it!

The more we try to impress, the less we achieve it!

The more we try to keep, the more we push it away!

The more we try to control, the more we lose it!

The more we seek certainty, the more we lose reality!

The more we build security, the less we feel safety!

The more we resist change, the more we obstruct growth!

The more we fear death, the less we enjoy life!

The more we chase happiness, the more suffering follows!

The more we pursue pleasure, the more addiction follows!

The more we desire beauty, the more frustration follows!

The more we seek vanity, the more misery follows!

The more beliefs we hold, the more enslaved we are!

The more certain we are, the more delusional we are!

The more judgmental we are, the more arrogant we are!

The more self-righteous we are, the more stupid we are!

In this wild dance of life...

The more we fight, the more we struggle!

When we let go, we gain control!

When we surrender, we gain freedom!

In reality, there are no paradoxes here. But from our ego's point of view, because of our ignorance, they seem like paradoxes. As ego is against reality, we have many wrong perceptions — wrong views, assumptions, opinions and beliefs. This is the root cause of our suffering.

"The person who suffers most in this world is the person who has many wrong perceptions, and most of our perceptions are erroneous" — Buddha

Just because, we perceive, feel or experience something, it does not mean it is true. It is very easy to fool our mind (In fact, most of our mental experience is an illusion — it is not what it seems). It takes tremendous amount of clarity and understanding to see through properly.

A Mindful Practice:

  • Not automatically believing our perceptions, feelings and experiences as true. This is not about disregarding or rejecting our feelings and experiences. This is about how we interpret them — how we make up our own stories, assumptions and beliefs.

  • Asking if our views, assumptions, opinions and beliefs are really true, at what conditions and why. Seeing through our biases, prejudices, hopes and fears. Just because, a drug offers some relief, it does not mean it is a good medicine. Even if something is a good medicine, it does not mean that it applies to all conditions.

  • Not getting attached our views, opinions and beliefs. When we hold on to them, they become a heavy baggage and a harmful poison. Buddha says that his teachings are like a raft for the purpose of crossing over the river, not for the purpose of holding on to them.

Nature of Paradoxes

The chicken-and-egg problem (which came first?), zeno’s paradox, etc. – though they seem paradoxical, once we understand them correctly they become clear. Their complexity comes from their “self referential” (referring itself) and ‘recursive” (loop) nature with many “levels”. The cognitive problem of consciousness is likely this kind of problem. Many of the deeper mindfulness/meditation concepts have this paradoxical quality.

When a system (language, mathematics, etc.) is complex enough to have “self-reference” and “recursive” nature, it bounds to give rise to logical paradoxes, such as "liar paradox" and “barber paradox”. Many mathematicians tried to overcome such paradoxes in mathematics by adding many rules; after all, mathematics is supposed to be a perfect land without any logical inconsistencies. Later Kurt Gödel mathematically proved the futility of such efforts (with his incompleteness theorem).

This “recursive” and “self-referential” nature also arise in: Who created the universe? God. Who created God? Self-created -or- always there -or- unknowable or don’t know. Instead of this roundabout way, we could simply say: Who created the universe? self-created -or- always there -or- unknowable or don’t know. But we humans intuitively like to “personify” everything; so we can reuse the existing “mental structure” which gives a feeling of comfort as if we know and understand it.

Einstein sometimes referred 'nature' as God (“God doesn’t play dice”). In Tantra (both in Hinduism and Buddhism) many gods and goddesses were created to personify certain qualities. Buddha referred his mental defilements as “mara”. Jesus referred his temptations as “satan”. We often say, “mother nature” and “mother earth”. In Latin languages, they go one step further and refer everything in terms of male or female.

M.C. Escher's Drawings:

  • Drawing Hands (top)

  • Ascending and Descending (bottom)

CK. Kamaraj

21 February 2020 (Paradox of Life)

03 November 2020 (Nature of Paradoxes)