How can it be true that we are perfect exactly as we are and that we are always looking to grow and develop?
How can it be true that we are to accept ‘what is’ and that we are to be continually open to expanding and stretching our perspective?
How is it that things can seem bleak and dismal today, and we still hold out hope for a better tomorrow?
The reason this seems incongruous to us is because our society teaches us to think in either black or white terms, when really life is all about both black and white. We are taught either or, when reality functions as both and.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald explains it, “intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”
A good way to grasp this concept is through a story: Once there were three monks who had never seen an elephant. They were blindfolded and placed around an elephant. Each monk was told that he was to touch the elephant and describe to the others what an elephant was like.
The monk at the head of the elephant felt the big ears and exclaimed that an elephant is flat, smooth, thin and always moving. The monk at the side of the elephant disagreed; he knew that an elephant was big, rough, roundish and has a heartbeat. Finally the monk at the tail of the elephant told them they were both wrong — he was sure that an elephant was cylindrical, hard, tough, and hairy, and yes, always moving.
So who was right? Well, we know that all of them were correct, and all of them were incorrect. Each was describing a limited aspect of the elephant correctly, but none of them was able to describe the entirety of the elephant accurately.
This is a great metaphor for understanding life. We might think we have an understanding of some aspect of life, but all we are really seeing is the tail of life, or the ear of life. In order to understand the vastness of life, we have to step back and get a bigger picture, a broader perspective, a bird’s eye view.
So the next time two things seem incongruent or incompatible, take a step back and see if you can find the vaster perspective where both are true. Because when you can do this, suddenly there are no “right answers”, no concrete opinions, no absolutes, and we are forced to broaden our experience of life, to accept opposing views as valid, to more easily be able to stand in another’s shoes.
And I’m sure you readily grasp the value of this — it’s quite possible that if everyone on this planet had the ability to do this, there would be no more wars, no more violence, no more hatred. Just imagine….