“Paradoxes explain everything. Since they do, they cannot be explained.” — Gene Wolfe

The paradox of understanding paradox is that our mind cannot understand paradox.

And yet, understanding paradox is the key to understanding everything.

(how’s that for a paradox?)

If that statement bent your mind, perfect — bending the mind is the first step to understanding.

Here’s what I mean…

Our logical mind is a tool of discernment — it separates things into parts so that we can better understand them:

This, not that.

Two, not one.

Purple, not green.

It wants concrete rules to lean on, a right way and a wrong way, a single clear answer.

The problem is, reality doesn’t work that way.

It’s this, that, and the other — all at once.

It’s two, and one, purple and green, and when we reduce it down to a single, easily-understandable part we lose sight of the whole.

So reality is fundamentally paradoxical, which means understanding paradox is the gateway to understanding reality.

In fact, I can almost always tell how far along the path a student is by how well they understand paradox:

How clearly they can see the point of connection between opposites.

The same way elite athletes are both strong and relaxed, good parents are both gentle and firm, and great relationships require both vulnerability and boundaries…

…The best thinkers see the detail and the big picture, the surface and the depths, the many and the One.

In short, understanding paradox is critical to your progress on the inner path.

So here’s what I’d like to do…

Tomorrow, I’m going to compile a master list of paradoxes that can serve as a thinking tool for anyone trying to better understand reality.

Today, I’d like to hear from you:

What paradoxes came to mind as you were reading today’s email?

Hit reply, and maybe we’ll add them to our list tomorrow.

I’ll start with a few obvious, surface-level paradoxes just to get the ball rolling, and we’ll go much (much) deeper in tomorrow’s list.

Let’s begin:

  • The harder we try to make someone like us, the more we push them away
  • The funnier we try to be, the less funny we are
  • Those who are most successful in the long-term are often those who fail most in the short-term
  • The harder you try to solve a problem, the harder it is to solve
  • Working slowly gets the job done faster than rushing (“slow is smooth and smooth is fast”)

Now, your turn 🙂

  • T

P.S. Our 2023 retreat recordings are almost ready.

But as I watched them, I had an idea.

We’re not going to release them in a package like we did for our 2022 recordings.

We’re going to do something much, much better.

Details coming soon…

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