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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

Paradox to the Rescue

We can leap out of time and therefore arrest its flow through paradox, which is only fitting, for remember that paradox got us into this mess in the first place! Eliade (1991a) notes that in Indian thought, “the human condition is defined by the existence of opposites, and liberation from the human condition is equivalent to a non-conditioned state in which the opposites coincide” (p. 84). All symbolism of transcendence is paradoxical, impossible to conceive at the profane level, and usually involves passing through planes, two rocks clashing together, or between the jaws of a monster. Other symbols might involve penetrating to another world, a difficult passage, encountering a situation where day and night meet together, or finding a door in a wall where none can be seen (Eliade, 1991a). Eliade explains:

All these images express the necessity of the transcending the “pairs of opposites,” of abolishing the polarity that besets the human condition in order to reach the ultimate reality. As Ananda Coomaraswamy said: “Whoever would transfer from this to the Otherworld, or return, must do so in the uni-dimensional and timeless ‘interval’ that divides related but contrary forces, between which, if one is to pass at all, it must be ‘instantly’” (p. 84)

paradoxical instant of enlightenment is compared in the Indian texts to lightning. The goal is then to transcend the opposites and polar tensions, and to unify the Real or to reintegrate the primordial One.

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