Coexistence of Opposites: I’m caught by the notion of stasis in the dynamics of reflection. When we think visually of a reflection, for example, mountains and trees reflected in a pool of water, dynamism occurs in that action of reflection—the bending back of the light rays—but the reflection itself is static (supposing the day to be windless and the water still). I believe part of the charm of reflections is this coexistence of opposites—stasis and dynamism together in the same experience.
Coexistence of Opposites: The Science of Consciousness identifies two qualities—silence and dynamism—as constituting the nature of consciousness itself.1 This coexistence of opposites can be experienced by the human nervous system when an individual practices the Transcendental Meditation technique. The ability of the inner self to entertain this coexistence of opposites may explain why we are charmed by reflective surfaces; reflections capture this combination of stasis and dynamism in concrete and visual ways. We experience the sight of the trees and the reflection of trees inverted in the pond—unity and diversity at the same time—and we feel a thrill.
Reflections in Literature: Literature, that great expressions of human writing endeavors, is filled with images of reflections—from mirrors to windows, to ponds and even puddles. From childhood to adulthood, we enjoy the process of reflection and what it reveals. Who can forget the wicked stepmother in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves who gazes into the mirror and chants, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” But in folklore, mirrors do not lie and, thus, the magic mirror captures the wicked essence of this woman and shows her truthfully that her daughter is more beautiful. In this fairytale, reflection, though in a way unreal (it is magic after all), becomes a determiner of what is real—here, the evil nature of the stepmother (may stepmothers everywhere forgive me!).
The Reflective Mode: Reflective writing functions similarly to the magic mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It allows the writer to mirror back images, memories, thoughts, and impressions in order to determine a clearer understanding, perhaps a truer perception of what emerges in our words. When we allow the mind to settle back on memories and stored impressions, we are sifting and sorting to the let the truest image emerge. We are re-seeing—the truest meaning of revision.
1 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Vedic Knowledge for Everyone: Maharishi Vedic University Introduction. India: Age of Enlightenment Publications, 1995, p. 135.