“THE GREATEST OF ALL THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF 20TH-CENTURY SCIENCE has been the discovery of human ignorance.” Lewis Thomas, Lives of a Cell. “OUR IGNORANCE, OF COURSE, HAS ALWAYS BEEN WITH US, AND ALWAYS WILL BE. What is new is our awareness of it, our awakening to its fathomless dimensions, and it is this, more than anything else, that marks the coming of age of our species.” Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Message

No matter who might read these words, even in the most far-flung future, the truth will remain for the reader: YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE.

You honestly do not know.

The very existence of you and everything and everyone else that appears is, and will always remain, a perfect mystery.

You do not know what you are, bodily. (What IS the “body”?)

You do not know what you are, emotionally. (What IS a “feeling”?)

You do not know what you are, mentally. (What IS a “thought”?)

You do not know what you are, spiritually. (What IS a “soul”?)

Perhaps you may assert that everything is a form of energy. But then you must answer, what IS “energy”?  Or you may declare that everything is simply God. Then, what IS “God”?

Although you might describe energy as light, radiance, force, intensity, “the ability to perform work,” and so forth, you do not (and cannot) know what energy is, in itself.  And although you might conceptualize God in myriad ways, you are not presently knowing (and you are not about to grasp) what God is.

In all honesty, in the bareness of our human condition, we simply do not know.

Have you heard and considered this immutable fact or truth?

We are not knowers! Our essential situation is irreducible mystery.

The mystery is never dimmed or lessened by all the knowledge in the all the worlds.

All of our knowing (information processing and storage) could be labeled “conventional knowledge” or “knowing about.” We are able to know and to talk about things: to name and define and describe countless forms and functions and beings, to observe their interactions and learn how to make use of them. Such conventional knowing is natural and indispensable.

We have reproduced the terrible power of stars and peeked at the intricate jewelry of our genes. We have manufactured artificial hearts and someday we will manufacture artificial minds. Yet never are we able to find out or to bring to a close the naked mystery of ourselves—or any form or function or being.

Considered more fully, it is not simply the mystery of being human that awes us; it is the total mystery of being. Where is a place? When is a time? What is awareness? The irreducible mystery of existence (or consciousness) itself is the fundamental Fact or Truth that confounds the mind and astounds the heart.

What is a hummingbird?

What is a blue whale? 

Truthfully, no one knows—including the hummingbird and the blue whale!

There is no such one as a knower. Ultimate (Absolute) knowing is not a possible condition within reality.

Science is the human system of observing, naming, defining and describing forms and functions and beings, and working with this information (and the technologies it leads to) in countless ways.

Religion is the human response to eternal mystery.

The Mystery of being human is the beginning, middle and end of all sciences. If we call the Mystery “Nature” or “Life” or “the Universe,” we must confess that the subject is too vast for any possible accumulation of scientific knowledge. Nevertheless, the scientific method is an extremely helpful and practical human endeavor within our adventure in and of Perfect Mystery.

The Mystery of being human is the beginning, middle and end of all religions. If we call the Mystery, “God,” we must honestly confess: God is too vast for any possible religion. Nevertheless, inspired religion, like fine art, may beautifully express (while never capturing) the Mystery. Whether native religions of rivers and mountains; theistic religions of goddesses and gods (or of One True God); or formless religions of emptiness, light, space, freedom and peace---all these forms (or formlessness), functions and deities (or The Deity), are preceded, understood, embraced and surpassed by the apprehension of mere and absolute mystery.

Deeply and consistently abiding in our essential unknowing opens awareness in spontaneous surrender, and grants ever-greater intuitions of vast reality. It is a process of undermining every false (limited) identity, until the inherently free being dawns, luminous and clear. At last, one’s own self is realized as not truly “other” than the totality of living systems that arise within perfect mystery.

You cannot, at last, find yourself apart from the essential mystery. What you encounter in your search, more and more profoundly, is only the same magnificence, awesome wonder and freedom from where you began.

You cannot know yourself or own yourself or even “become” yourself. You can only be yourself—always, already abiding in mystery.

The traditional metaphor of a “journey” to self-realization does not imply that one’s identity ever becomes “known” in the way that sense data and abstract information is registered and stored. Our real identity can never become an externalized object of knowledge, in the sense that we might perceive a red cranberry on a mound of fresh white snow. Our real identity can never become an internalized object of knowledge, in the sense that we might conceive a prancing black unicorn in a pasture of silver grass. Such external and internal objects of perception and conception are always limited forms; but our real identity is never circumscribed.

Our identity IS the mystery. The mystery IS who (or what) we are. It is we, ourselves, who are eternally unknowable. We can never be located as separate “things” (objects) within the wonder and naked brightness of the mystery.

Profound consideration of the PRESENT luminous mystery awakens the heart to its transcendental condition, beyond all beliefs and images and symbols of God. Rather than grasping, one submits as the relaxed body-mind into the wholeness of simply being.  

Self-realization is, therefore, not a matter of knowledge (information) discovered or amassed, but a matter of wholly being; it is to be surrendered in mystery, alive at infinity, while completely present in whatever form we appear NOW.

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