Is existence a paradox?

by Frank Muller

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Let’s us start with a Merriam definition of the word. A paradox is an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises. In other words, what appears to be absurd one can through reason and logic find the apparent absurdity true.

Life is a paradox. Why, because death is a part of life. Thus, life and death are united into a singularity called existence which has a beginning and an end. Life and Death thus are two ends of the pole, The yin and yang, the positive and the negative. This is the paradox, that death is as much about life as life is as much about death.

When we examine all of existence, we find that all things exist in this singularity and in this paradoxical relationship. Atoms have protons and electrons. All transactions have a cost and a benefit. They possess a potential reward and a potential risk. In the created order everything has a cause, and everything has an effect.

The flapping of a butterfly’s wings 100 million years ago could be the cause of global warming today at least according to quantum mechanics. Even the most insignificant of causes can have an infinite number of effects ranging from the least noticeable to the catastrophic.

In daily parlance, there is no free lunch. Every thought pondered or ignored, every word said or unsaid, every action taken or not taken – each has an effect on ourselves and others. As I type these words, they may influence a person to good or evil or to contemplate a thing that changes a life forever and to take an action such as helping a friend consider this question.

Our individual existence is made up of thousands of men and women through the millennia that engaged in the act of procreation and every one of those teenage impulses and desires lead to our first breath. We are connected in this chain back to the very beginning of humanity and with one small change in anything it is entirely certain we would not be here nor anywhere as we would simply not be.

In every aspect of our lives, every aspect is a cosmic trade of cause and effect. We are all perpetrators and victims over and over again whether we realize it or not. We are winners or losers with every breath through every event of our lives though we remain blithely unaware until the consequences for good or ill are made manifest.

The sadness of that manifestation is a willful ignorance of our own role in the consequence or the role of another in the blessing. That is, the great paradox of why we blame others for our problems and congratulate ourselves for our blessings. This is the hypocrisy of pride which clothes itself in self-love.

There is no life without death. It is inescapable. In fact, there is no life without suffering because in the cosmic point of view everything has a cause and an effect. We may escape the short-term consequence but not the long-term consequences. For good or for ill, everything has a cause and an effect.

This is why the virtue of justice is present in us all as deep in our souls we know this law of cause and effect. Science is built upon the scientific method of cause and effect and metaphysics is built upon the same science. The virtues we know to be good are simply the metaphysical laws of the created order.

Thus, suffering becomes the path to the positive because through the suffering we are bringing about the good. Just as the electron exists in its’ negativity, the proton must exist in its’ positivity. This is why we so often struggle with the existence of evil when it appears to have no purpose and yet it does have a purpose. Its ultimate purpose is to bring about the good even though it leads to its’ own separation from the good.

In other words, there is no evil. Evil is simply a separation from the good and in that separation good still prevails ultimately as all things are brought under its’ dominion. Evil has no other power than to say no to the good and that power inevitably runs out. Thus, evil is simply the absence of the good.

If all things are a cause and an effect, is there anything that transcends this fundamental truth of all existence? The answer is there may be. The answer may rest in the one thing that gives without taking, rewards even when there is no merit, the one thing that is transcendent. It is the one thing that defies cause and effect.

Love. True and pure Love defies the created order and existence. Somehow, someway, we all know that this Love must be possible. We struggle for it in every way we can in the created order, yet it eludes our capturing it fully.

Love. This thing that calls to us from a realm outside existence itself. It is the Love that sacrifices, that suffers, that bears all for another. It is the thing that demands nothing more than that Love be returned in the same way. Its cause has no cause, and its’ effect is infinite. It exists outside of existence because it simply is. It creates that which we exist in, in order to Love and to be Loved. This eternal relationship of Love is the ultimate reality. The choice is ours alone to respond to this Love.

Love. This is the paradox; Love demands nothing but gives all. It is not that Love does not exist; it is that we do not respond to it in this way. We want that kind of love, but we do not want to give that kind of love. The world struggles because it seeks the love that gives all without demanding that we reciprocate in returning all we have. This is the uneven trade, and that disorder causes the effects. This is the theft of love without the responsibility to Love. This is the free choice to say no to Love, and to say yes to a lesser love only which is the rejection of Love.

Thus, the paradox returns and presents us with this contradictory Truth and yet we keep thinking it may be True. Generation after generation of human beings ask this same question over and over again. Each passing generation gives way to the next and the next ignores the same question or answers it, “I will define what love means”.

The paradox deepens again when we realize that in order to be Loved this way, we must accept that we are Lovable. We must let go of the chains that bind us that want to tell us we are not smart enough, good enough, pretty enough. We must let go of the chains that bind us when they tell us we are too sinful, we have made too many mistakes and have hurt too many people.

When we think this way, we slip back into the material order, and it is precisely there that we become enslaved. It is when we reject those things and accept Love as it truly is, then we begin to live, and we are consumed with sharing that Love with its’ source and with its’ created.

My prayer for us all, is that we peer into the paradox and perhaps for the first time see the reality of things as they really are.

May Peace be with us all.

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