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Andro
11-30-2013, 02:46 PM
A few years back I was talking with a friend about what would make a great idea.

We were both in (almost) instant agreement that a truly GREAT idea must involve a Paradox at its genesis/inception.

A Paradox is a tremendous power source. I would even go as far as stating that Paradoxes are the only 'things' that actually make sense to me.

I would stretch it even farther and state that everything that is believed/perceived has its origin in Paradox.

It is my perception that if we could fully embrace 'Paradox' as a 'way of life' - it could hold the keys to unlock more doors than we can currently imagine.

There is one foundational Paradox that I personally see in ALL that I believe/perceive. Maybe we'll get to it later...

But - I'll kick off this topic with a cool TEDx talk: The Most Dangerous Question On Earth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tClHDEoje6Y).

Please share what you think... (if so inclined :))


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tClHDEoje6Y

Awani
11-30-2013, 10:19 PM
All my ideas, morals and modes of existence are forms of paradoxes. Sometimes, in arguments, a paradox might seem to be a hypocritical viewpoint... but hypocrisy and paradoxes are not the same IMO.

:cool:

z0 K
11-30-2013, 11:18 PM
Hi Androgynus,

I think you have hit THE Point of Alchemy, nailed the Crux of the matter. For me Paradox is the engine that powers the Universe.
Alchemists have been contemplating the Paradoxa since the beginning.
A paradox is a perfect mystery—not a problem to be solved. You can never solve a paradox, but the old alchemists said you can fix a Point, open a Paradox and experience the Scintillae.

“The tremendous role which the opposites and their union play in alchemy helps us to understand why the alchemists were so fond of paradoxes. In order to attain this union, they tried not only to visualize the opposites together but to express them in the same breath. Characteristically, the paradoxes cluster most thickly around the arcane substance, which was believed to contain the opposites in uncombined form as the prima materia, and to amalgamate them as the lapis Philosophorum. Thus the lapis is called on the one hand base, cheap, immature, volatile, and on the other hand precious perfect, and solid; or the prima materia is base and noble. The materia is visible to all eyes, the whole world sees it, touches it, loves it, and yet no one knows it. This stone therefore is no stone, says the Turba. [CG Jung, The Paradoxa.]

“You will have above all to consider the point in nature … and you need nothing else, but take care lest you seek the point in vulgar metals, where it is not.”
—Novum lumen
“It is not unreasonable to suppose, that by four straight lines which run in opposite directions from a single, individual point, the mystery of the four elements is indicated. …Things and beings have their first origin in the point…”
—John Dee

“The arcane substance is also synonymous with the Monad and the Son of Man mentioned in Hippolytus:
Monoimos...thinks that there is some such Man of whom the poet speaks as Oceanus, when he says, ‘Oceanus, origin of gods and origin of men. Putting this into other words he says that the Man is all, the source of the universe, unbegotten, incorruptible, everlasting; and that there is a Son of the aforesaid Man, who is begotten and capable of suffering, and whose birth is outside time, neither willed nor predetermined... This Man is a single Monad, uncompounded and indivisible, yet compounded and divisible; loving and at peace with all things yet warring with all things and at war with itself in all things... It is its own mother and its own father... The emblem of the whole man is the jot or tittle. This one tittle is the uncompounded, simple, unmixed Monad, having its composition from nothing whatsoever, yet composed of many forms, of many parts. That single, undivided jot is the many-faced, thousand-eyed, perfect and invisible Man... The Son of the Man is the one iota, the jot flowing from on high, full and filling all things, containing in himself everything that is in the Man, the Father of the Son of Man... [The iota is the smallest Greek character corresponding to the dot or point.]
The mystery of the smallest written sign, the point, is also known to alchemy. The point is the symbol of a mysterious creative center in nature...
The point is identical with the scintilla the ‘little soul-spark...’
Alchemy has its doctrine of the scintilla. In the first place it is the fiery center of the earth, where the four elements ‘project their seed in ceaseless movement. For all things have their origin in this source, and nothing in the whole word is born save from this source.’ In the center dwells the Archaeus, the servant of nature, whom Paracelsus also calls Vulcan, identifying him with Adech, the ‘great man.’ The Archaeus, the creative center of the earth, is hermaphroditic ..., from the Novum Lumen of Sendivogius: ‘When a man is illuminated by the light of nature, the mist vanishes from his eyes, and without difficulty he may behold the point of our magnet, which corresponds to both centers of the rays, that is, those of the sun and earth.’" [CG Jung, Paradoxa]

The way I see it in alchemy body, soul and spirit are Philosophical Principles: they exist in the Microcosm and are transcendent to the Macrocosm. If you have doubts about this just try to fix a body, soul or spirit in the Macrocosm. "Fix" in alchemy is to stop movement. When you stop movement the Macrocosm collapses. In the Microcosm body, soul and spirit are ONE.
I believe that what appears to be a body in the Macrocosm is a circulation of aggregated substances under the influence of the Fundamental Elements of alchemy: fire, air, water and earth known to science as heat, gas, liquid and solid. Alchemy recognizes a fifth element called the quintessence. The Fundamental Elements are components of space/time continuum.

So again I agree with you, only you said it better with less words:)
"I would stretch it even farther and state that everything that is believed/perceived has its origin in Paradox."

z0 K

Andro
11-30-2013, 11:33 PM
Hey z0 K,

Actually, I was hesitant to expand/elaborate on this more than I already did...

This concept is SO deeply rooted/carved into the 'mainframe' of my reality perception, and I felt it may feel philosophically 'threatening' to some if I had been more detailed in its presentation.

But you did so brilliantly, just enough to give it a good foundation and starter for further discussion, IF anyone else is interested.

So thank you!

I wanted to bring this up long ago, but was always somewhat hesitant. But when I found that TEDx video, it triggered it and I had no more excuses :)


For me Paradox is the engine that powers the Universe.

We are, indeed, in agreement.

Let's see how/if this develops...

Lunsola
12-01-2013, 06:27 AM
You always post such great threads Androgynus. Excellent video as well, that guy is a good philosopher/critical thinker. It makes me a bit sad the video has so little views being posted two years ago while so many worthless videos have millions. That touches the paradox spectrum as well, to me many of the popular videos are garbage but to some of the other viewers they are gold. So they are both great yet also worthless.

What he was getting at and his process of arriving there actually isn't that different from Maslow's hierarchy of needs although his method of working his thoughts was a bit different. Ultimately understanding and answering that question usually leads a person to the top of the pyramid, fulfilling their greatest potential or purpose in life. Self actualization is not an easy path but for some of us it's the only way.

Paradoxes do indeed have an alluring power to them. Not always because something truly is a paradox(don't judge me, I'm partially committed to the lie) but because it may seem to be. You can count one more in agreement that Paradox runs the universe. If it didn't things would be a lot less entertaining or significant. The best part imo being that people respond to paradoxes differently, some who do so in more interesting ways than others. For example a catch 22 or someone saying they are between a rock and a hard place. It's not always a catch 22 and when it is sometimes it both is and is not. The point being there's usually a view or solution not considered or considered but not desired. It reminds me of a quote I will put below.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man." -George Bernard Shaw

But that too is a paradox. The unreasonable man needs reasonable men as well. We can't all be unreasonable or entrepreneurs.

It's like the guy in the video said you have to be able to see both sides but you also have to be able to come up with a solution.

I was actually quite intrigued and intensely awaited the question only to find out I had the answer a long time ago. I also agree with your statement that "a truly GREAT idea must involve a Paradox at its genesis/inception." I've found out many times that it can evolve from there to become a reality.

Ghislain
12-01-2013, 11:52 PM
I would like to agree, but first what type of paradox are we talking of?




1. a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd
but in reality expresses a possible truth.

2. a self-contradictory and false proposition.

3. a person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory
nature.

or

4. an opinion or statement contrary to commonly accepted opinion.

Source: (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/paradox?s=t)


Søren Kierkegaard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%B8ren_Kierkegaard) a Danish philosopher wrote:


But one must not think ill of the paradox, for the paradox is the passion of thought, and the thinker
without the paradox is like the lover without passion: a mediocre fellow. But the ultimate
potentiation of every passion is always to will its own downfall, and so it is also the ultimate passion
of the understanding to will the collision, although in one way or another the collision must become
its downfall. This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that
thought itself cannot think.

Androgynus I have extracted Bryan’s question from the talk so that everyone can be singing from the same
song sheet, so to speak. I hope you don’t mind.

The Most Dangerous Question:


"Imagine a version of yourself that has no shame; that doesn’t have anything to prove, that has
already proved everything, that has gotten the validation you have always wanted from all of the
people you’ve ever wanted it from; declare yourself the winner of any game you could think of
playing."

"No one anymore doubts you, least of all you."

"Imaging you’ve got nothing to prove, imagine that there’s nothing to hide; that you’ve already revealed every
secret you possibly can, everything that you can think of that you’re subtly and not so subtly hiding every day –
that’s all been revealed, and imagine there’s nothing to lose, either because you’ve already lost it anyway or
anything you could lose possibly isn’t real and then ask the question:"

"What do you want"?

[He may as well have been talking about me, and I want a Snickers Bar :)]

He goes on to say…”if that question doesn’t freak you out you’re not asking honestly”.

“Every minute you spend doing anything that isn’t spent going toward the answer to that question is
a waste of your life.”

Is he saying that by spending time telling us about this he has just wasted 19m 26s of his life?

I hope I don’t meet him on the open road…would his mind be on his driving or on what he really
wants?..perhaps both if he really “wants” to get home safely. lol

The paradox to his question is that no one knows what they really want…it is all relative, for example
if what you want you haven’t had before then you may not like it once you have it; so was it what
you wanted?

I’m sure most people would feel more comfortable striving toward something they wanted; does
anyone “strive” toward something they don’t want?

I often ask people a similar question when they talk about “winning the lottery”. I ask them what
they will do with the money. When they tell me I ask them what they will do then…and just keep
repeating that question. Most people don’t want very much.

If, hypothetically I had a little box with the answer to life and all that is, and a signed bit of paper to
say it was authentic :), in one hand and all the money you could ever spend in your entire life in the
other, which would you choose?

So you would steal from me then? I didn't offer either.

I guess we’d choose the money because you can get those little boxes here on the net, and at a very
reasonable price too…so I’m told.

Hey I just got an idea for a gift…a little box, and written on the top is “The answer to life the universe
and everything”. The box would have a false bottom and when you open it, written on the top of the
false bottom, in big letters, the number 42. The false bottom would contain a memory stick with the
complete series of “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”. :) you can have that one! lol

Ghislain

Edit: nearly forgot...could anyone give some examples of the paradox's we are talking of?

III
12-04-2013, 06:59 AM
Hi Ghislain,


Edit: nearly forgot...could anyone give some examples of the paradox's we are talking of?

I can think of a couple of examples of kinds of experience that could fit his descriptions.
Alchemically speaking when one has contradictory "understandings" built into themselves, one gets a paradox, a "must do" versus a "must not do" and makes faulty or bad decisions or no decision as a result. Often large areas of possibility are blocked off by each of the two factors, possibilities that can be ideas, but are only noticeable for a short while on the fly.

In another situation one can make two sides of something equally true at the same time with a great deal of energy-certainty in both directions, equal. It requires being able to tolerate uncertainty and even to mine it for ideas. Having an "I don't know" area allows the creation of whatever might fit there. It's kind of a black box. Again a source of ideas but has to be accessed while open, spontaneously.

Each persons paradoxes are their own though they are often taught by family and/or society. Each internalized one you find can be very powerful.

Ghislain
12-04-2013, 07:58 PM
I can feel what you are saying III;“contradictory understandings”; when you think you know
something and another thought conflicts with it; being pulled in opposite directions at the same
time. Does one hold on to both or relax the hold on one just to feel more at ease, but then one risks
making that faulty or bad decision or no decision as a result.

Everyone should have an “I don’t know” area, the bigger the better, as this leaves room for change
and acceptance. In many subjects today the word infinity raises its head and within the realms of
infinity anything is possible. To think one knows something fixes it and once fixed the paradox can
be created, when one can accept that nothing is known then everything is possible and the paradox
dissipates IMO.

Can there be any truths, as truth is fixed and yet we know that everything that exists is in a constant
state of change. I spend a lot of time searching for truths and reading this thread makes me realise
that maybe there are no truths. Perhaps that may be a good subject for another thread…”what is
truth”.

Ghislain

Andro
04-14-2014, 07:03 AM
A paradox is a perfect mystery—not a problem to be solved. You can never solve a paradox [...]

Indeed, not 'solve', but reconcile within... an initiatory experience in itself...


In order to attain this union, they tried not only to visualize the opposites together but to express them in the same breath. [CG Jung, The Paradoxa.]

That's because 'opposites' are essentially the same, only differing in degree. To put it in more common language, a 'polarity' can be cooked/evolved until it becomes the 'opposite' polarity.

'Cold' can be decocted/evolved into 'warm'. 'Warm' can be decocted/evolved into 'hot'.

'Empty' can be decocted into 'Full', and 'Nothing' into 'Something'/'Everything'.

Polarity is actually a Scale/Continuum of similar natures, only differing in degrees.

Any 'random' position on this 'Scale'/'Continuum' may be perceived as the 'Polar Opposite' of a different 'placement' on the same-natured Scale/Continuum, only further 'up'/'down' the 'Scale', relatively.


The mystery of the smallest written sign, the point, is also known to alchemy. The point is the symbol of a mysterious creative center in nature [...]

The UN-Knowable Point 'is' dimensionless (therefore it simultaneously 'is not' :)) and not anchored in Space & Time, although it 'is' the Objective (yet Unknowable) ALL, Precursor and 'Parent' to both Space & Time, and of all that is Subjectively Knowable, eventually...

The Point of Creation is generated by the Balancing Out of the Potential Difference between Zero Potential (Nothing is possible) and Infinite Potential (Everything is possible).

And if this this not enough...

There is a virtual Infinity of such UN-Knowable 'Points of Creation', all rendered in a timeless 'instant' ('before' the Philosophical 'Big Bang'), where the infinite combinations of potential differences become balanced (fixed) in an Infinity of 'Points of Creation', which subsequently ('after' the Philosophical 'Big-Bang') each create/generate what is perceived as Space, Time and an Infinity of Knowable Universes.

Neither Creation nor its Origin are 'real'. Nothing Is Real.

The 'difference' is that Creation is 'knowable', while Origin isn't.

'Truth' is rooted in the Polarity Continuum as well, between the 'Subjective/Knowable' and the 'Objective/UN-Knowable'.

Paradox Lost :cool:
_____________________________________

DonSweet
04-14-2014, 07:13 AM
We are One.

Everything is a cycle.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Spin-off thread created here: Lines Circles Cycles and Spirals (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?3995-Lines-Circles-Cycles-amp-Spirals)

Fireball
04-15-2014, 09:57 PM
We are One.

Everything is a cycle.

To not let the topic be covered with 'blanket statements', I would like to continue the line Androgynus and Bryan Franklin are drawing here...
________________________________________________

Note: Continued on Spin-Off Thread - Shame & Self-Esteem (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?3996-Shame-amp-Self-Esteem)

Floyd
04-16-2014, 06:31 AM
That's because 'opposites' are essentially the same, only differing in degree. To put it in more common language, a 'polarity' can be cooked/evolved until it becomes the 'opposite' polarity.

'Cold' can be decocted/evolved into 'warm'. 'Warm' can be decocted/evolved into 'hot'.

'Empty' can be decocted into 'Full', and 'Nothing' into 'Something'/'Everything'.

Polarity is actually a Scale/Continuum of similar natures, only differing in degrees.

Any 'random' position on this 'Scale'/'Continuum' may be perceived as the 'Polar Opposite' of a different 'placement' on the same-natured Scale/Continuum, only further 'up'/'down' the 'Scale', relatively.



The UN-Knowable Point 'is' dimensionless (therefore it simultaneously 'is not' :)) and not anchored in Space & Time, although it 'is' the Objective (yet Unknowable) ALL, Precursor and 'Parent' to both Space & Time, and of all that is Subjectively Knowable, eventually...

The Point of Creation is generated by the Balancing Out of the Potential Difference between Zero Potential (Nothing is possible) and Infinite Potential (Everything is possible).

And if this this not enough...

There is a virtual Infinity of such UN-Knowable 'Points of Creation', all rendered in a timeless 'instant' ('before' the Philosophical 'Big Bang'), where the infinite combinations of potential differences become balanced (fixed) in an Infinity of 'Points of Creation', which subsequently ('after' the Philosophical 'Big-Bang') each create/generate what is perceived as Space, Time and an Infinity of Knowable Universes.

Neither Creation nor its Origin are 'real'. Nothing Is Real.

The 'difference' is that Creation is 'knowable', while Origin isn't.


All of this is true! To me, paradox is where opposites meet. Suppose you have a continuum bound by two polar extremes. These extremes meet at a certain point, but at what point does one become the other? For example, I am sitting here drinking my coffee and as time passes by, the coffee is transferring heat to it's external environment. It loses heat and it's temperature decreases. But at what point may I say that my coffee is cold? Could I very well say that my coffee is a cold hot or a hot cold? This poses a problem, though, as it makes a contradiction. Grammatically speaking, how can you have a hot cold? It is an oxymoron. So, to compensate for this contradiction we make up a name for it and call it "warm". This is a very common practice when dealing with polar opposites, because we run into the problem of how to treat such contradictions.

This same problem can be viewed quantitatively. First, recognize that by continuum in this context, I am meaning the real number line. It's important to note that along a continuum there exists an infinite number of numbers. Suppose that we have a continuum bound by the interval [0,1]. We may easily count along this interval 0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3,..., 0.9, 1. However, when we look at the numbers between 0 and 0.1, we see that there are yet more numbers 0.01, 0.02, 0.03,..., 0.09. We now understand that between any two numbers along a continuum, there are an infinite number of numbers. However, we see a problem when we try to count every number between two numbers. Think about it. Is it really possible to count EVERY number between 0 and 1? When I begin counting to the first number, I quickly realize that there are an infinite number of numbers between 0 and the number I counted to. So, I have to search for the next set of infinite numbers between 0 and that number, and so on. In fact, I would never make it to the first number, because it would take an eternity to find the first number. Therefore, if it takes literally forever to count past any number could we say that it is impossible to count past or to any number? Even though there is a definite point that is assigned to every number, if it is impossible to count to it how can we even say it exists? This is a paradox of existence and non-existence, but also related to knowable creation and unknowable origin. We know that a definite number exists, because we can ascribe it to a point along the continuum, but we don't know the number that it was counted from, because it is impossible to count to from it. Therefore, if it is impossible to count from x to y, does there even exist an x to count to y? There is a knowable creation, but an unknowable origin! The number exists and doesn't exist at the same time.

However, we can say that it's possible to count past 0 when we create a relative context to follow. We can assign rules to the order of counting to say we will count a proportional interval along the continuum. So instead of having to spend an eternity finding a next number to count to, we can just say we will count those numbers that we assume to exist, like 0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3,..., 0.9, 1. Now, we have another paradox caused by the continuum that it's impossible to count to any number, but it is possible at the same time. This is how we deal with such problems. Just like the problem of hot/cold, when we get to the point that they overlap, we assign a name to define that point. We create a relative context to say that this is hot, this is cold, and this is warm. This leads to a point made in the video: Reality is personal to the individual. My perception of hot/warm/cold is different from yours. In my own reality I may sip my coffee and say that it is too hot. You might have sipped it and thought it wasn't hot enough. Although in reality it is the same temperature in both situations, we create a relative context by which we can compare temperature and define it as hot/warm/cold.

There's a lot of interesting thoughts in this thread. Thanks for posing such a challenge!

Andro
04-16-2014, 09:02 AM
And thank YOU for your comments and observations, and also for actually staying on topic... an increasingly rare commodity as of late... :)

The Paradox Of Origin (The POO :)) is IMO essential for an integrated understanding of the Great Work of Alchemy & Creation in general.

If one grasps the 'Alpha' (Beginning), then the 'Omega' ('End') is already at hand, and then it is only a matter of 'time' to uncover it as well.

If this topic (Paradox Power) doesn't keep getting derailed, I'll expand more on this 'Prime Paradox' of the 'Unknowable Point' and its direct (and 'practical') relevance to Creation & Alchemy.

Anyway TJ, thanks again for your pertinent comments and observations on the topic of Paradox.

Ghislain
04-16-2014, 09:19 AM
Floyd

I think you hit on the key word "Relative"

In your hot/cold analogy I think we would all agree that 0ºC is pretty cold, however in relation to 0ºK it is very hot.

The difficulty we face in looking at all the possibilities in between is not a paradox but a lack of processing power; we don't have an infinite brain storage capacity, we know the numbers exist but choose to ignore them and you only mentioned real numbers...there is a whole other set of imaginary numbers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imaginary_number) outside of that linear scale.

How many books have we not read, how many people have we not met, how many places have we not visited, how much music have we never heard...the list goes on. Our brains are limited, but our imagination can fill in the missing pieces; how well we do that is peculiar to each of us I would "imagine" <- :)

Do paradoxes even exist or are they places we cease to know the answers?

Below is a common paradox example:


If a being is omnipotent then it can limit its own ability to perform actions and hence it cannot perform all actions, yet, on the other hand, if it cannot limit its own actions, then that is—straight off—something it cannot do.

Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even that being could not lift it?” If so, then it seems that the being could cease to be omnipotent; if not, it seems that the being was not omnipotent to begin with.

The point here is that the omnipotent being can do both of the above, but in doing so ceases to be omnipotent. This is the same as us trying to count all the numbers in between 0 and 1...we could start, but we have a finite life, and we have a life; it's not going to happen. :)

Max Planck discovered:


that physical action could not take on any indiscriminate value. Instead, the action must be some multiple of a very small quantity (later to be named the "quantum of action" and now called Planck constant). This inherent granularity is counterintuitive in the everyday world, where it is possible to "make things a little bit hotter" or "move things a little bit faster". This is because the quanta of action are very, very small in comparison to everyday macroscopic human experience. Hence, the granularity of nature appears smooth to us.

Source: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_constant)

So maybe some numbers don't exist except in our imagination :confused:

Ghislain

Andro
04-16-2014, 09:34 AM
I think you hit on the key word "Relative"

I'd say Realative :)


So maybe some numbers don't exist except in our imagination :confused:

Not just some numbers... All that is realatively/subjectively 'knowable', doesn't 'exist' except in the Imagination of the (unknowable) Point, therefore Everything simultaneously IS and ISN'T...

I'll also add that even (theoretically) infinite 'brain processing power' would still be confined to the 'Subjectively Knowable'.

To paraphrase John:


"There is nothing you can know that can't be known"

Ghislain
04-16-2014, 09:40 AM
"but if you know how to play the game it's easy" :)

Ghislain

Andro
04-16-2014, 10:02 AM
"but if you know how to play the game it's easy" Actually, the 'Hermetic Laws' (of Creation, etc...), paradox-ridden as they may seem, are there to teach (those who are ready) 'how to play the game'...

But now, a bit of comic relief for this challenging topic...

Quoth the latest Glee episode (dealing with STD):


"In order to give you everything, I have to make sure I don't give you anything."

:cool:

Andro
07-30-2014, 10:33 AM
Great short article IMO, well worth reading:

Source: Thinking Within Paradoxes by Peter Westermann (http://www.highexistence.com/thinking-within-paradoxes/)

I read a few years ago somewhere that a hallmark of a genius is being able to hold opposites together and transcend them. This stuck with me and over time I tried to make sense of it, because at first it was a very confusing concept. With some luck this concept began to make sense thanks to a random assortment of other things I read over the years following my discovery of this tidbit.

This train of thought has now become one of my favorite things to ponder. I feel it has taught me the dangers of holding onto apparent absolutes. Once you believe in something as an absolute, you are automatically precluding yourself from believing in the opposite, which means that in some ways a part of your freedom of thought as a human being is forfeited as a result. A good example of rising above these conventional kind of thoughts constructed with absolutes is the Wave-particle duality. I love this example because it is somewhat recent and shows the possible errors in absolutes and how they can prevent you from thinking “outside the box” so to speak.

Wave-particle duality is the concept that all matter and energy exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties. Physicists argued for a long time whether light was a wave or a particle, and their insistence on their present beliefs prevented them from realizing the possibility that light could be both at the same time. While this is a very specific example, even using abstract thought experiments seems to work as well. Take these two opposites for example:

You are nothing. You are everything.

They both hold some truth and meaning. We can say you are everything because at any given point in time you are in contact with everything in the universe. It is impossible to escape both the tangible and intangible elements of the universe, they are constantly in contact with your being in a multitude of ways. A few examples are the atoms directly touching your skin as you sit, magnetic waves and invisible light waves from the sun passing through you, etc. Through this phenomena nothing can truly separate itself from all of existence. At the same time, we are nothing. Being part of everything in some ways means you are truly nothing as an individual. The idea that we are separate from the universe is more or less a really persistent delusion that we have somehow acquired. And even if we were separate…the amount of matter that you consist of in relative scope to what an infinite universe might contain is mathematically zero.

Now I’d like to tie this line of thinking into another one….the concept and realization of knowing nothing, yet knowing everything. The Way of the Samurai calls this the trackless road, where infinite secrets appear. Once we realize how truly we are lacking we only have everything to gain. Holding onto this thought can remove all sense of both pride and humility. Without knowing anything there is nothing to be proud of, and at the same time we no longer need to feel humiliated because we have come to terms with our shortcomings. Even while we know nothing, we can know everything because the truth of every situation exists in our being.

You know nothing, You know everything.

This is why always being open to being wrong can be so powerful. You create a dynamic persona that cannot show weakness because when you truly let go of yourself, you open yourself to the universe instilling you with the most powerful type of truth. You become a fluid force that adapts to everything and anything on a whim, because your ego and preconceptions don’t get in the way. Having an ego makes people fall hard, stops them from learning the errors of their ways and stops them from shifting the next constructively critical opportunity into a new, more powerful and improved version of their being. Being overly confident with your knowledge makes us vulnerable to clinging onto something false.

Bruce Lee believed this as a core part of his fighting philosophy. I love it because I think it applies far beyond martial arts: “Be formless… shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend..”

Knowing nothing lets us flow into everything. I’ve been in martial arts just long enough to finally allow myself to know nothing, while simultaneously using everything I know. When someone throws an attack, a completely relaxed, open and trained mind will automatically show you the paths you can take to success, all you must do is let yourself flow through these paths. In this sense the only person you are overcoming is yourself. This is where the power of rising above opposites come into play. If we know nothing, we can know everything. Whatever true knowledge we have acquired already exists outside of our being, all we need to do is let it apply itself, let it fill the void like water. Such are many things in life, letting go of some of your beliefs can set you free and give you the ability to rise above the rest. “It’s only once you’ve lost everything that you are free to do anything” Tyler, Fight Club

Take your beliefs and preconceptions, consider the opposite. Hold them both, rise above them.