Contradictions as Treasures

“One of the most interesting forms of complexity is contradiction. We need to rediscover contradiction as a creative force within the soul. Beginning with Artistole, the Western thought tradition outlawed contradiction as the presence of the impossible, and consequently, as an index of the false and the illogical. Hegel, alone, had the vision, subtlety, and hospitality of reflection to acknowledge contradiction as the complex force of growth that disavows mere linear progress in order to awaken all the aggregate energies of an experience. It is the turbulence and conflict of their inner conversation that brings an integrity of transformation and not the mere replacement of one image, surface, or system by another, which so often passes for change…

We need to have a greater patience with our sense if inner contradiction in order to allow it’s different dimensions to come into conversation within us. There is a secret light and vital energy to contradiction. Where there is energy there is life and growth…

We do not want to be cured, for that would mean moving into the unknown. Often it seems we are destructively addicted to the negative. What we call the negative is usually the surface form of contradiction. If we maintain our misery at the surface level, we hold off the initially threatening but ultimately redemptive and healing transfiguration that comes through engaging our inner contradiction. We need to revalue what we consider to be negative…

Art is full of intimation of the negative in ways that allow you to participate imagination in their possibility. The experience of art can help you build a creative friendship with the negative. When you listen to Martha Argerich play Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minot, Op. 30, you experience the liberation of contradictory force that a every point threaten and test the magnificent symmetry of for that holds them.”

“You can only befriend the negative when you recognize that it is not destructive. It often seems morality is the enemy of growth. We falsely understand moral rules as descriptions of the souls direction and duty. Yet the best thinking in moral philosophy tells us that these rules are only signposts to alert us to the complex of values latent in or consequent upon our decisions. Moral rules encourage us to act with honor, compassion and justice. They can never be descriptions simply because each person and situation is so different.

When we notice something immoral, we normally tend to be harsh with ourselves and employ moral surgery to remove it in doing this, we are only ensuring that it remains trapped within. We merely confirm our negative view of ourselves and ignore our potential for growth. There is a strange paradox in the soul: if you try to avoid or remove the awkward quality, it will pursue you. In fact, the only effective way to still it’s unease is to transfiguration it, to let it become something creative and positive that contributes to who you are.

Your vision is your home, and your home should have many mansions to shelter your wild Divinity. Such integration respects the multiplicity of selves within. It does not force them into a fictitious unity, it allows them to cohere as one, each bringing it’s unique difference to complement the harmony.”

PG 114-118

Contradictions as Treasures

By John O’Donohue in Anam Cara

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