Recently I’ve been immersing myself in the work and ideas of Tim Freke. You can find out more about this fascinating British philosopher and prolific writer of books here: www.timfreke.com
He has invented the term PARALOGICAL to describe a way of thinking which truly embraces the ‘both… and’ rather than the ‘either…or’.
We’re all familiar with the yin yang symbol, but what I hadn’t quite grasped until now was how conditioned most of us are (including me) to come down on one side or the other. It must be this or that – so which is it?
Practising this Paralogical Thinking is allowing me to actually enjoy the mystery of either not knowing, or knowing that it’s both at the same time. I’m finding it incredibly liberating!
I can’t remember who said it, but I’ve always loved the quote
“The true measure of intelligence is to be able to believe two totally opposing ideas at the same time”.
Let’s look at some examples.
Are you a human being having a spiritual experience, or a spiritual being having a human experience? Are you an ‘It’ (a physical form walking around), or an ‘I’? Object or subject? Form or formless? Material or non-material? Well… you’re both.
Is it better to be a ‘hard-nosed scientist’ who won’t believe anything until you’ve read it in a peer-reviewed journal, or seen the evidence with your own eyes – or better to be an open-hearted, curious soul who follows your gut – even when you can’t really explain it logically? Both – sometimes.
Two quotes from Einstein:
“Reality is an illusion – albeit a persistent one”
“Space and Time are not conditions in which we live, but modes in which we think”
Are you a separate entity – or are you deeply and profoundly connected to all that is? Both.
Rumi sums this up beautifully:
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in one drop”
“Stop acting so small – you are the universe in ecstatic motion”
For quite a while now, scientists have been finding that the ‘both… and’ is often more accuriate, even from the scientific paradigm.
Through the work of Max Planck, Einstein, Louis de Broglie, Arthur Compton, Niels Bohr and many others, current scientific theory holds that all particles also have a wave nature (and vice versa).
Niels Bohr, the great physicist, had this engraved on his personal coat of arms:
“Contraria sunt Complementa”
(The opposites are complementary).
“The Universe is not only stranger than we think, it is stranger than we CAN think”
“Something Unknown is Doing We Know Not What”
Sir Arthur Eddington (an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician of the early 20th century who did his greatest work in astrophysics)
“We do not belong to the material world that science constructs for us. We are not inside, we are outside as spectators . It is only because we have a physical body that we are tricked into thinking we are material beings”
I was chatting with a friend yesterday who, amongst other things, coaches people on lifestyle and dietary choices. She was telling me about the growing numbers of people who have decided to call themselves “flexitarians” – sometimes they’re vegan (and not just for ‘Veganuary’!), sometimes they eat a bit of dairy, sometimes they have a cheeseburger. Mostly they don’t drink alcohol, but occasionally they do. The important thing is that there’s no ‘beating yourself up’ for failing to live up to the strictures and rules of how you’ve defined yourself.
You could label this lifestyle as just wishy-washy or ill-disciplined, but I think there’s something deeper going on here… more and more people are embracing the Paralogical.
I watched an old German film recently called “Wings of Desire”. I wouldn’t particularly recommend the film – but the central idea is delicious. It’ s set in Berlin, which is full of angels who go around trying to help people. Normal folks can’t see them of course (except occasionally small children notice them). The angels spend all day offering comfort to the distressed – somehow when they put their arms around somebody’s shoulder, the alive human being just feels inexplicably better.
Here’s the thing though: when the angels get together to compare notes, they are so envious of the human beings. “I wish I could taste a cup of coffee!” says one. “I saw a couple in love today kissing in the park – how I long for just one real kiss”. And even things like “I wish I could feel true sadness”.
“The wound is the place where the light enters you” Rumi
“There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in” Leonard Cohen
Since writing my last blog “The Neuroscience of Enlightenment”, which you can find on my website, I have also been listening to and watching many of the people studied in the research I outlined there. I must say, I find some of these so-called ‘enlightened’ people (and this is judg-ey of me I know) incredibly humourless, emotionless and, frankly, rather dull to be around!
For me, I’d rather celebrate being, enjoying and playing with all of what’s on offer! That’s why I’m drawn to Tim Freke – he seems to be incredibly spiritually aware, and totally human. Both at once.
So are you a perfect, resilient and joyful expression of the infinite potential of the universe? Or are you a flawed, ego-ic, vulnerable human being who is often plagued by insecure thoughts? You are BOTH.
And it’s wonderful. It’s being deeply awake and totally in love with Life.
As Tim Freke often points out:
“We are all Great Souls and we are all Assholes!”
Where are you limiting yourself by seeing only the ‘either…or’ rather than the ‘both… and’? How could embracing paralogical thinking set you free?
Do drop me a line – I’d love to hear from you!