So many religious beliefs.
So many philosophical systems.
So many gurus with divergent truths.
So many notions of what life is all about.
So many guides pointing in different directions.
And so few people willing to say, "I don't know."
Ignorance isn't bliss. But neither is illusory knowledge.
I'm much attracted to those who have done their best to sort through the world's collection of answers to life's biggest questions and have the guts to say it like it is:
All come up short.
Virtually everyone ends up choosing sides in the massive Game of Meaning, where countless teams vie to collect the greatest number of people willing to pledge allegiance to a particular set of conceptions.
In his "Ways in Mystery," Luther Askeland clearly describes the confusing situation.
Do we get a sense of reasonableness if we stand back and attempt to contemplate the totality of all the competing, conflicting mass of human self-knowledge which, not to speak of either past or future, is being offered today in biology, neurology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, economics, linguistics, literary criticism, theology, and philosophy?
This totality, in fact, is the antithesis of the plausible and rational. It cannot offer us a verbal, conceptual sense of who we are and what we are doing because it offers us hundreds of thousands of rival versions, only a few of which we can actually begin to digest.
This dizzying, seemingly limitless number of increasingly complex, increasingly variegated, mutually competing accounts of our human reality stands in a curiously inverse supporting relationship to the negative way, for it is a self-destructing positive way, one that has reached such a degree of bizarre fecundity and self-contradiction that it cancels itself out as a way for the intellect to discover and reveal who we are.
Ah, I can visualize true believers in a mystic path saying to themselves, "What's been said doesn't apply to me, because my way is beyond the intellect."
If asked for proof of this, they will point to books describing in copious verbiage their supposedly wordless way; to sayings of a spiritual leader who teaches that reality can't be spoken about; to guideposts -- commandments, practices, approaches -- demarcating a supposedly formless path.
Thus we see that no one ever leaves the jungle of competing concepts. They merely cling onto a particular vine for support, ignoring the fact that myriads of other people are equally attached to their own belief structures.
Askeland offers examples of the variety of ideas that we grab onto.
I don't think (nor does Askeland) that we can avoid being attracted to certain conceptions of what It Is All About.
However, wisdom seems to lie in recognizing the arbitrariness of our choices.
There's no universally compelling reason to choose Christianity over Buddhism, existentialism over empiricism, church-going over solitary meditation, or anything else over anything else.
Which, to my mind, indicates that nature -- reality minus human conception -- stands apart from all of the multitudinous ways humans try to make sense of mystery.
So if people are tired of wandering in the jungle of competing concepts, it's understandable why they would clutch onto this one or that one and say to themselves, "Now I've found a place to stand."
There's another option, though, the psychological equivalent of nature's Lagrangian point. This is a place in space where a small object remains in a fixed position relative to two larger gravitationally attractive objects (like the Sun and Earth).
Their gravitational fields balance out at the Lagrangian point, in the same fashion as competing philosophical/spiritual/religious conceptions cancel out to equal "who knows?"
It takes effort to break away from long-held dogmas, just as the power of a rocket is needed to lift a satellite out of the Earth's gravitational field.
But once we realize the relativity of all conceptions about the ultimate meaning of the cosmos, perhaps it is possible to settle into a peaceful Lagrangian state -- resting in the stillpoint of mystery.