Why Contradictions are Good.

Pondering the depths by Ari Hahn
Pondering the depths, a photo by Ari Hahn on Flickr.

Contradictions. We tend to think of them as negative, but in contradictions we can find the greatest truths. It is more than just a quirk of language that we can reach the greatest heights by plumbing the greatest depths. It is an actual fact of life that by accepting contradictions we can expand our minds and our understandings.

There are a few reasons for this phenomenon. First, since we have only a limited power of understanding, acknowledgment of our limits opens us up to understand things that at first do not make sense. Sometimes they make sense after we accept them. Second, there is often more details and depth in a reality that reveal secrets otherwise concealed. For example, in interpersonal communications we can gain only a certain amount of understanding through the words of a conversation. Once a certain limit is reached, we can attain a greater understanding by listening to the silence (and other non-verbal and non-visual) levels of communication. These can include sounds that are not normally audible and bodily reactions that we are non-consciously sending and receiving.

Of course, in art the act of savoring and becoming engaged in the art are supra-conscious acts. This is well known but not common enough. Especially in today’s over-saturated environment. In the modern Western world we are bombarded with sights, sounds, and mini-messages that attempt to keep us at a superficial level of understanding. How else can be be convinced to spend money on items and customs that are actually detrimental? (My favorite is the American belief that we need to shower every day (which I do.) By showering everyday we use more soap, deplete our natural skin oils, and need to buy more products to replace, at least minimally, those oils in order to retain healthy skin.) If we were to think deeply, and follow the dictates of our bodies we would slow down and need less.

This works also for intellectual pursuits. Learning quickly is only one aspect of intellectual success. True success requires slow thought. Contemplation. Greater understanding by pondering the depths. Ponder this (in darkness) and you will see the light.

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