Sep 26, 2007

The Paradox of God

I started Tom Robbins’ last novel yesterday, Villa Incognito. (You might say I’m doing the Alpha-Omega thing: going from his first to his last...) Within the first five pages I found a wonderful description of the paradoxical nature of God:

Before moving on, however, we must address the probability that the perceptive reader will have noticed in our narration an apparent and perhaps troubling inconsistency. Unless the author is simply too careless and sloppy to be trusted, why does he sometimes write “Tanuki” (singular, individual, a capitalized proper noun) and at other times, even in the same paragraph, write “tanukis” (plural, generic, an uncapitalized common noun)? The explanation is simple. This badgerish creature, like God, is both one and many.

Both. In the same instant. Like God.

As anybody who knows anything about the Unknowable well knows, “God” and “gods” are interchangeable. The exclusivistic patriarchal Jehovah/Allah freaks are not incorrect when they insist that there is but one Supreme Being and that “he” is immutable and absolute. However, neither are the wide-eyed inclusive pagans and primitives wrong when they recognize gods of fire alongside gods of rivers; honor a moon goddess, a crocodile spirit, and deities who reside in, among countless other places, tree trunks, rain clouds, peyote buttons, and neon lighting (especially the flashing whites and the greens).

Thus, if the reader is wise enough not to try to impose human limitations or narrow notions of uniformity on the Divine Principle, is nimble-minded enough to realize that he or she can be (perhaps should be!) simultaneously monotheistic and pantheistic, then he or she will have scant problem in accepting the paradoxical essence of our small friend, Tanuki of the tanukis.

Nice. Hindus have a phrase for this: Achintya Bheda Abheda Tattva. The Truth (tattva) is simultaneously and inconceivably (achintya) one and yet different (bheda abheda). It was in support and in the pursuit of this philosophy/theology of mystery that I named my blog, Facilitating Paradox.