Someone recently pointed out two different statements in the Bhagavad-gita, arguing what they felt to be a contradiction and inconsistency within the presentation. We discussed, debated and churned the topic, exploring the issue from numerous angles of vision. We considered the context and background to each statement, and carefully analysed each word. After a lengthy discussion, not only did we resolve many of the doubts, but we actually felt a heightened understanding and comprehension of the subject matter. It was actually an incredibly refreshing conversation.
It reminded of speed bumps (yes we all hate them!). As we cruise along in our car, we can easily slip into autopilot, and lose consciousness of our speed and surroundings. The speed bumps force us to slow down and become more aware of our mode of driving. Similarly, seeming contradictions and confusions in scriptural writings could be seen as literary speed-bumps. Often, we superficially wiz through ancient texts and give minimal thought and consideration to the words we’re reading. Encountering apparent contradictions can force us to slow down and consider the concepts with greater attention and depth. Through intensified contemplation and deepened deliberation, we realize that the ‘inconsistencies’ are actually paradoxes – concepts which on a superficial level seem to clash, but on a higher level can be reconciled. Thus, we mature and advance our spiritual understanding.
In another sense, however, we may not always be able to logically reconcile truths which exist on a higher platform. One must accept that aspects of the spiritual reality will remain inconceivable to the human mind and intelligence. Those from ‘scientific’ backgrounds may point this out as the downfall of the spiritual approach – to sheepishly concede that we cannot know something, and instead conveniently attribute it to some metaphysical reality beyond our grasp. A cop-out they may say. However, to recognise the limits of our intelligence and perception may also be considered an exhibition of humility and honesty. After all, in this universe there are many planets. On the planet earth there are many countries. In one country, there are thousands of cities, and in one city there are hundreds of streets. On one particular street there may be a dwelling, inside which there are many rooms. In one room, someone may be proudly sitting, thinking they have understood (or will understand) the essential truths behind the entirety of the cosmos. A little ambitious, bordering on childish, wouldn’t you say?