I don't need concepts like "religion," "spirituality," and "mysticism" to feel a sense of awe. All I need to do is contemplate the ultimate mystery these words point to.
Existence. The fact that the cosmos is. And I am.
As I've noted before, the primal mystery of existence is the black hole of all knowledge, experience, understanding, and whatever.
It makes notions like enlightenment, theory of everything, self-realization, ultimate reality, perfect truth, and the like go zap! -- sucked into a cosmic void of not-knowing that erases false claims of knowing-it-all.
How could it be possible to fathom the "it" of existence? Where is the vantage point from which existence can be examined?
Existence is. We are. End of story.
No matter what religious, philosophical, or scientific tales are told in an attempt to explain why or how the cosmos is, the final word always is a gigantic question mark.
I like what I said in my "Deepening the Mystery of Existence" a few years ago.
I could be sitting at the right hand of God, immersed in the glories of divine light and sound, being taught how the Almighty creates creation, and I'd still have questions: "God, who created you?" "God, how do I know this isn't an illusion?"
I could hear a booming, "I am the Lord, thy God, eternal, uncreated." That voice still would be part of existence. I'd still be clueless about whether there is a why? for the existence of the world, taking the "world" now to include spiritual as well as physical reality.
Or "God" could laugh and say, "Fooled you. You're right, everything I've shown you is an illusion—the Matrix, a computer simulation. It looks just like a real universe, doesn't it? I'll show you how the programming works."
Now I'm zapped into another dimension where I see God, and me, and universes being formed out of cyberspace and cyberenergy. But I still have no way of knowing whether there is a why? to that.
I don't know whether I've reached really real reality, or even if there is such a thing, because I'm still stuck in existence. It's impossible to get outside of existence and learn about it objectively. Like everybody else, I'm always on the inside, looking in, even if I were able to reach a spiritual realm.
We humans abhor the vacuum of uncertainty.
If we don't know the whys and wherefores of something, there's a strong desire to pretend that we do. And when that something is everything -- existence -- the explanatory urge is intense.
Hence, religion. "God created the heavens and the earth." "God is, was, and always shall be." "In the beginning was the Word."
Religious believers feel comforted by these meaningless notions. The familiar phrases paper over the void of existential mystery: that anything is at all. Authentic awe of the ultimate unknown is replaced by a false feeling of this is the way things are.
The truth is that no one knows why or how anything is, or even whether "why" and "how" have any meaning when we speak of is.
Most of us have watched movies with a totally unexpected plot twist at the end, such as "The Sixth Sense." In a flash, we're forced to reinterpret everything previously shown in the film.
With the mystery of existence, there's no final credits, no "the end," no tidy wrap-up that answers all of our questions. So we can't know what sort of plot twist might unravel all of our understandings.
What is, is. As New Agey as this sounds, it's the most honest ultimate answer.
All we know is that something's happening here: existence. Those who are comfortable with leaving mystery mysterious remain churchless. Others need the warm blanket of religion, because not-knowing gives them a chill.
For me, awe is awesome. It fires me up. I enjoy contemplating the mystery of existence and knowing that I will never unravel it. To quote myself again:
Meditating this morning after reading Munitz' final chapters, I felt strangely peaceful. Looking into the darkness of my clueless consciousness, for a moment I was relieved of the "What's it all about?" that has gnawed at me for most of my life.
Some questions are unanswerable. Some questions are so questionable, we can't be sure they are valid questions. Such is the mystery of existence.Floating free in perpetual ignorance—that struck me as not so bad. Maybe better than being lashed to a time-bound pseudo-truth.