When considering whether something is true, we almost always follow the rule of either/or. Either this is true or that is true, but both can’t be true at the same time. It is not possible that A and ~A coexist. Law of non-contradiction.
However, while this Law can hold true for our reasoning mind, it comes with some limitations. For one, it can lead to a kind of black-and-white thinking in which, if one point of view is true, then there is no truth whatsoever in the alternative. And yet as Ken Wilber likes to point out, “no one can be wrong all the time.” So even if the competing point of view turns out to be false by most measures, even then there is some way to explain how it came about as a point of view in the first place.
For example, if someone believes in the conspiracy theory that Americans didn’t land on the moon in 1969, even if that specific claim turns out to be false, there may be some valid judgments hiding explaining their position: that other conspiracy theories are true or have a degree of truth, that propaganda is real and manipulative, that there were nationalistic motives to land on the moon by the end of the 60’s (in the context of the Cold War), et cetera.
Another limitation of Law of non-contradiction is that it doesn’t necessarily hold true when claims are being made with respect to “trans-rational” states of consciousness. So this would apply to spiritual discourse in particular. The reasoning mind always works within the realm of duality. To define one thing is to enter the mind of duality, because that one thing has been separated from everything else at a conceptual level. Yet “non-duality” is so named because it has to do with non-conceptual awareness. No distinctions!—no duality!
In entering the consciousness of non-dual mind and beyond, we have to allow that the normal constraints on our reasoning mind may not apply in the same way or even apply at all. At this level, contradictions can exist. Things that cannot be conceptualized exist and unfold. What Buddhists call “emptiness”—the underlying reality of everything—cannot be conceived or imagined. But it can be experienced.
Oddly, intellectual discernment can be used to our advantage on a spiritual path, but at the same time it is not directly related to evolving consciousness beyond perceptions of the ego-mind and duality-mind. Ego doesn’t go beyond ego; reason doesn’t transcend reason; duality doesn’t collapse duality.
Which brings us to the takeaway point: when considering points of view, may we open our minds to “both/and” thinking rather than the either/or we are used to. Sometimes, it is both this and that simultaneously! With respect to normal discussions, this helps us to avoid black-and-white thinking in favor of more considerate, wider points of view that see truth (be it hidden or self-evident) on both sides. With respect to spiritual discourse, we allow our minds to open to the infinite possibilities of the Universe by not attaching to the preconceived idea that “reality must conform to the rules of our reason.” It doesn’t, it won’t, and by keeping that attachment, we are the ones who have a less pleasant and less profound experience of life; it’s our choice.
May you see Truth in infinite things, from infinite angles. And in that spirit: “To infinity and beyond!”