Paradox in the Upanishads

This article was re-published from apocryphile.org.

One of the most enjoyable elements of the Upanishads, and indeed of most religious texts of note, is its initial, seeming illogical. This is no accident. "True words seem paradoxical," says Lao Tzu, and this seems to form a plum-line which indicates the Truth of a sacred text. It is "foolishness to confound the wise," as expressed by St. Paul. It provides for a kind of "divine teasing" by which, Zen style, we are surprised by the sudden sublimity the text reveals to us. In the Upanishads, the use of paradox to "unlock" truth is clearly evident throughout. Both charming and challenging, it seems that the degree of incongruity in any given instance of paradox is indicative of the degree of sublimity intended by the author. In what follows, we will explore several paradoxical themes clearly evident in the Upanishads, and hopefully recognize some--indee

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