Nothing Is As It Seems, Nor Is It Otherwise

Recognizing the limitations of seeing concepts in opposition is a good start to practicing Zen and making peace with your suffering in life. You can understand that good relies on bad, bad relies on good, and this creates a cycle that is beyond morality— and even, at a certain point, beyond human comprehension. Concepts are concepts, and while they represent valid worldly phenomena, they aren’t necessarily ‘real’.

The step beyond recognizing dualistic thinking, and beyond thinking of things as constantly in conflict with their opposites, is to embrace the contradictions arising from dualism. Zen focuses on going a step further than this, and embracing the contradictions that come from embracing contradictions. It’s absurd, and this absurdity is reflected in the concepts of Zen, because all concepts are, fundamentally, absurd.

Zen doesn’t pretend to have answers or even ask sensical questions, because the truths that result do not represent real truths. They are just truths within the brittle framework of language, logic, and symbolic thought. Zen is, at times, an anti-logic.

A point comes where there’s no use talking about it anymore and you realize that conceptual thought is limited. Embracing contradictions means going beyond thought, retreating to the place in your head that remains unaffected and unphased by language. It can be difficult to access for modern people, since we’re so inundated with language, images and symbols.

Try to access your contradictions and then put in the slightly extra mental work to go beyond those contradictions. Instead of revolting against them, accept them and move past them.

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