I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with a non-human world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual, separate. Paradox and bedrock.
Reality does not conform to either/or, black-and-white thinking. If we focus on matter and forget spirit, or focus on spirit and forget matter, we lose the bigger truth, which always holds opposing concepts in creative tension. This is why mysticism, which is an intuitive perception of the connectedness of all things, is often best expressed in the language of paradox. In Christian scripture, for example, sayings such as “anyone who wishes to be first, must be the last,” or “when I am weak, then I am strong,” are paradoxical expressions. Paradox is at the very center of reality, and openness to it means letting go of the ideologies and certainties we most cling to. That can be so frightening it almost seems like dying, which may be why Jesus told the apostles, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
That may sound grim, and yet it isn’t, for opening ourselves to paradox and the sense of connectedness that comes with it is to grow in gratitude and joy. And often it is accompanied by a growing awareness of the great humor in life, and even in paradox itself, as the photo above illustrates: with our vision somewhat obscured, we can still see that the one dock, in its early morning reflection, is a pair o’ docks.
What we fear we will lose if we let go of our ideologies and certainties is nothing compared to what we may gain.