Reality Eats Us and …

Some folks are inclined to feel they are the masters of their destiny, they choose their own beliefs and they make independent choices.  Some folks feel that life happens to them, they have no control and that even their beliefs are unfortunate accidents of birth.

It is clear that our up-bringing, our social circles, our genetics and much more determine much of who we are — even our beliefs.  In other words, “Reality Eats Us”.   But it is also clear that we can affect our environment, our choices matter and we are active participants in reality.  In other words, “We Eat Reality”.

Here are two pics which for me illustrate this apparent paradox:  Reality eats Us AND We eat Reality.  The odd thing is, that for me, this no longer feels like a paradox — it feels whole and alive.


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11 responses to “Reality Eats Us and …

  1. Aly

    Very nice!

  2. Whatever is whole and alive is whole and alive precisely because it exhibits paradox.

    If something doesn’t seem paradoxical to us, we’re probably not apprehending it quite fully enough and we shouldn’t trust our non-paradoxical non-understanding of it. One of my favorite quotes is from Suzuki Roshi who said,

    “If it isn’t paradoxical, it isn’t true.”

  3. Interesting.

    It reminds me of a similar line from Dune: “The day the flesh shapes and the flesh the day shapes.”

  4. Ed

    In the late 15th century Chaitanya Mahapraphu of East Bengal India, put forth the doctrine of “simultaneous oneness and difference”. It describes how there is only One Thing and yet there is difference and individuality. That is exactly what I see. And I understand your post to be talking about the same idea.

  5. Ed

    @ Dan G. I love and appreciate Suzuki Roshi…

  6. I must say, my tendency is not to love paradox but to make paradox reasonable. I see two common reason for unnecessary paradoxes:

    (1) False Assumption
    As we know, apparent paradoxes are often resolved because underlying assumptions are shown to be incorrect. A common theme on my blog is that “self” is misunderstood. This fundamental misunderstanding of self can lead to paradoxical claims by mystics. But those claims are only paradoxical because the listener still has the old false assumptions of self which the mystic now understands as false. So in this way, an apparent paradoxes is explained and can be restated without paradox.

    (2) Poor Language Use
    Another common source of unnecessary paradoxes is abusing language to create them.

  7. Great word choice, S. ‘Eat’ helps to dissolve the abusive language of paradox, I think. Eating and being eaten by reality is more suggestive of something natural, cyclical, plausible. Making and being made by reality does seem more paradoxical.

    Maybe we are becoming more publicly conscious of this too — terms like ‘symbiotic’ and ‘balance’ are used quite loosely in common conversation a lot. Yogurt companies impress on us the importance of having good digestive cultures working away inside us.

    So, is it a lesson of awareness then? Know what you eat, and know what’s eating you?

  8. i love paradox. i guess, considering my line of work this isn’t surprising. a “new” atheist friend of my (both new as in he’s recently deconverted as well as part of the Dawkins ideology) was a fundamentalist for a long while and never considered or even heard of all the paradoxical theology that has been around since Origen. i mean the whole weakness is strength, to lead is to serve, to lose is to win stuff apparently never occurred to him. but i digress.

    i once hated paradox like he did. but then i got really heavily involved in art and poetry and now crave irony and paradox. i like Dan’s quote “Whatever is whole and alive is whole and alive precisely because it exhibits paradox.” but not paradox just for the sake of paradox and sounding wise… this is what drives me nuts about my UU friends from seminary. they’ll always answer “both” or “all of the above” if given the chance which stem from both false assumptions, poor language use, as well as based on some sort of Equivocation Fallacy. but so it goes, happens to the best of us. they at least don’t threaten hellfire and damnation and when this type of thing is pointed out to them they shrug, give you a hug, and are off to read more Hafiz.

  9. Andrew
    (1) I wish you give a last name to your handle — I have more than one Andrew commenting! Popular name.
    (2) Yes, it is a lesson in awareness of the nature of mind.

    Like I said, most apparent paradoxes can be undone with more careful wording or undoing fundamental concepts. Thus, staying in the “paradox” mode of communication seems to come from 4 sources:
    (a) hiding obvious weaknesses and confusions
    (b) laziness in trying to speak more clearly
    (c) playing off the unsubstantial cheap attraction to paradox
    (d) misunderstanding of fundamental presuppositions

    Now, if any paradox remains after enforcing those four screens, I would like to hear it. May be a bit strongly stated, but I hope I make my point.

    I think people with certain temperament and with certain needs are drawn to paradox. I think paradox can serve good ends too. I am just explaining my approach.

    The last part of your comment puts us into sharing much. I too love have just recently come to love beauty of poetry and art in ways I didn’t years ago. I am not sure what it is — kind of learning to like red wine. But with that did not come the embrace of paradox when having analytic, discursive or descriptive discussion. I think emotions can be paradoxical because our minds are full of many selves and contradictions and yet we have the illusion of one self.

  10. after reading my comment again, i would like to point out that i’m only being hard on UU’s cause i can see their glass house from mine 😉

    i’m with you on your standards and screens, believe it or not. love the comment: “I am not sure what it is — kind of learning to like red wine.” indeed that is what it’s like. Picasso stated “Art is the lie which tells the truth.” a paradoxical statement but one i think that stands the test of your rubric and essentially nails what good art does, IMHO.

  11. LB

    Reality is only perception, as what is real to someone could be different to another person. But yep it seems we’re all caught in a cycle and the cycle is caught in us.

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