Paradoxical Beliefs

I have a funny feeling (intuition/hunch), that in order to walk the Spiritual Path, we have to get ourselves comfortable with certain paradoxes.

I think there are probably a few of them we need to adopt into our belief systems. As I encounter useful paradoxical beliefs, I shall list them here.

By paradoxical beliefs, I mean pairs of beliefs which seem like they are mutually exclusive.

In human psychology, what usually happens when people encounter conflicting beliefs is that they feel a sense of cognitive dissonance. This (usually) forces people to choose one of the beliefs and reject the other.

A simple example:

Is the glass half full or half empty? Most people would choose one or the other. They see themselves as mostly optimistic or pessimistic. And it doesn’t (seem to) make sense to be both at the same time.

Or does it?

What if the glass is both half full and half empty? Can we hold space for both ideas in our hearts without rejecting either of them?

It’s my argument that holding two contradictory-seeming beliefs simultaneously may just be another part of the Spiritual Path.

Here’s a list of some beliefs which seem to be mutually exclusive at face value, but we can derive a lot of benefit (utility) from believing in both at the same time.

A) I believe in fate/destiny…
B) … but I also believe that humans have Free Will

A) I am always in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing…
B) … but I still must constantly check on myself to ensure I don’t stray too far from The Path of righteousness.

A evolving list of powerful and yet paradoxical beliefs. Bollinger, R. 2019

[EDIT: The trick is to choose which of the conflicting beliefs you use according to the current context.]

Does this have something to do with Yin/Yang? The path between black and white? Order and chaos? Good and evil?

Do we need both opposites combined together?

“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Maybe the Spiritual Path is inherently composed of several paradoxes like this. I’m keen to see if I can find any more of them!


In order to hold two contradictory beliefs similtaneously, I’m guessing that humans must have a built-in method for suppressing cognitive dissonance. So, how would we describe that suppression process in action? I’m certainly not conscious of suppressing my cognitive dissonance.

Perhaps we suppress cognitive dissonance by choosing what’s most meaningful? Maybe choosing meaning is, in a very real sense, choosing the path down the middle of a paradox?

Maybe life is all about balance.

Guess which star sign I am…

Libra, the sign of balance

Hmmmm!!!! What do you think? Comment below.

3 thoughts on “Paradoxical Beliefs

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