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- Jonathan Lockwood Huie (jlh @sail7.com)

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

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Great Truths

There are trivial truths and there are great truths.
The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false.
The opposite of a great truth is also true.
- Niels Bohr


Niels Bohr, the great Danish physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 for his fundamental contributions to the understanding of atomic structure and quantum mechanics, is making a point that is very Zen - or very Taoist if one prefers.

An example of a "great truth" for which the opposite is also true is the statement, "You are not your body; you are not your mind." While it is very true, if one so believes, that the "real you" is neither physical nor mental, it is simultaneously true that your body and your mind are very real, and ignoring their reality is likely to cause great suffering.

Another example of a "great truth" is the Golden Rule. It is true that we should treat others as we wish to be treated in the sense of being kind and compassionate to everyone. Yet the opposite of the Golden Rule is also true in the sense that it is kind and compassionate to recognize that everyone is called to a different life path and to honor those differences.

The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark.
The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.
- Rabindranath Tagore


Lao Tzu: The words of truth are always paradoxical.

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