Shahriar Shahriari

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Message of the Month

May, 1998

Contradiction or Paradox

As I look at nature, I see many contradictions; or are they? Upon closer inspection and more thoughtful contemplation, I notice what appeared to be contradictory is in fact the opposite poles of a dualistic manifestation. A Paradox if you will.

A paradox may appear contradictory, but in reality it is not. It is not, because a paradox becomes apparent when observed from a more transcendent vantage point. When we are deeply involved in the dualistic nature, what we see is either/or, polarity and contradiction.

We see nature nurturing creatures and promoting their growth. In the next moment we observe the vicious attacks of predators and taking away of life. How can nature contradict itself? Why nurture the life of such fragile being, only to take it away so maliciously the next moment?

But as might be suspected, it is not a contradiction in nature which gives rise to such appearance, but a limited perspective from which we observe. At a more transcendent level, it is easy to see how nature has woven the web of life with its many strands. How one life is taken away in order to nurture another. And how in the bigger picture, while the individual life is taken away, the cycle of life continues in the form of its progeny.

Then we come to the human world and see many more contradictions. Yet when we try to transcend ourselves and look for the paradox, somehow we fail. All we observe is contradictions.

We see people warring and killing in the name of love. We see violent protests for peace. We see people stressfully driving to reach a peaceful place, perhaps some serene vista point or some meditation class. We see people not willing to pick up the garbage by the side of the pavement because someone else threw it away, yet with an almost militant zeal they work for cleaning up the environment. We see companies coming up with the most wonderful mission statements, yet unwilling to honor the needs of their own staff or clients.

Are these merely paradoxical or are they contradictory?

While nature has set a wondrous example of how paradox works, human nature seems to want to defy that model and continue with its contradictions. Is it any wonder then that we have to face so many challenges and problems?

The root cause of our contradictions is in the belief that what counts is the big picture. In slogans such as "Think Globally, Act Locally!" But this is a fallacy. There is no such thing as the "big picture". Everything that matters is small. We can never transform our world unless we transform ourselves and our own small individual choices and decisions.

Until such time as we are willing to let go of that reckless driver who pulls in front of us, we will never find serenity. Unless we are willing to pick up that piece of trash on the pavement, we will never solve the global environmental problems. And unless we are willing to honor each individual, whether they are employees, clients, or strangers, we will never create soulful organizations.

So long as we remain oblivious to the contradictions in our minds, we will have to simply accept the contradictions in our lives.

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver, Canada
May 1998

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