Paradoxical thinking is something that various systems, such as educational systems or various advanced organizations, are trying to promote. We feel comfortable when matters are unambiguous, but it turns out that the ability to keep in mind conflicting ideas develops people’s minds very effectively. Paradoxical thinking contributes to people’s mental health, mental development, and builds a better society overall. But what is the highest level of paradoxical thinking that we can achieve? Let’s examine some insights.
When we are confined to one system of thinking, contradictions confuse us and create internal collisions. Alternatively, when we develop a dual system of thinking, we can maintain one thought in one system, and a completely opposite thought in the other. This allows for complete opposites to exist within us simultaneously, since each thought is in a different system. Therefore, our challenge is to know how to build an additional system of thinking. This is what the wisdom of Kabbalah is all about.
Imagine that there are tiny insects that do not grasp the dimension of height, and live only according to their perception of the surface. They can move from side to side in their space, but not up or down. In relation to them, we have another level of perception. Similarly, a person who lives in one system of thinking feels the world very differently from one who lives in two systems of thinking.
It is one thing to understand this notion, but it is a different matter altogether to achieve it. To do that, we must awaken evolutionary forces that will develop that system within us. We cannot really know what these forces are, but we don’t really need to. It is enough to want to develop them to make them act on us more forcefully. The trick, if you will, is to know how to approach that evolutionary force and make it build in us that advanced system.
One good example of an exercise in building such a dual system is the Biblical story of the tying of Isaac. God said to Abraham about Isaac, “Through Isaac your descendants shall be named” (Gen. 21:12), meaning that Isaac was to have children of his own and continue Abraham’s dynasty. But on the other hand, God instructed Abraham to “offer him … as a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:2), which would prevent the continuation of Abraham’s dynasty. How can one reconcile such contradicting instructions? This is when the third party must intervene. In such a case, we cannot use reason since it will direct us one way or the other. Instead, we must “summon,” meaning want a higher intellect—from which the contradiction came, the root of the paradox—to come and reconcile the conflict.
In the wisdom of Kabbalah, the root, where all the conflicts are reconciled, is called “the Creator.” The Creator is the general force in nature; it is the force that sustains all of reality, the root of the universe and everything that evolves in it, the origin of our lives. In the end, each and every contradiction points precisely to it, to the source from which everything comes and in which everything unites.
Since we cannot connect the opposites with our current mind, we must replace our minds with an “upgraded” mind that we receive from that higher source. This is how paradoxes elevate us to a spiritual level.
Another paradox that can develop the world is our relation to our raging egos. On the one hand, the egoistic desire to subdue everyone is destroying our lives. On the other hand, if we learn how to use our egos correctly, we will be able to turn them into what is called “help made against him.” In other words, we will be able to turn them into levers for development that will raise us from one level to the next on the spiritual ladder.
Our spiritual aspiration should not be to erase the ego from the world, but rather to want it to remain and even grow. As we strain to rise above it, to cover it with a good relation toward others, we also rise to higher degrees in spirituality.
The key to dealing with paradoxes is therefore in shifting from a system where we shift from thinking only of ourselves into a system where we think about others, feel their needs and understand them. In this way, we build within us an additional system, which will provide us with contradicting views. Then, when we learn how to connect those views, a higher intellect will appear among us, which will resolve today’s paradoxes at a higher level of connection and complementation.
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