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.
"What's it all about?"
exactly, and so why do ppl continue this spiritual searching and practice everyone does, if they are ultimately no nearer the answer, they might at some stage feel they are, but then that illusion is taken away too.
Posted by: George | September 27, 2009 at 02:01 PM
Very good post. Thanks.
Posted by: e | September 27, 2009 at 05:35 PM
George said: "why do ppl continue this spiritual searching and practice" [?]
-- Well I agree. And that is exactly my own question as well. Why do people continue searching?... or more specifically, WHAT are they searching for? What do they think they lack, that they feel they must search for and try to find?
Posted by: tAo | September 27, 2009 at 05:41 PM
George wrote: "so why do ppl continue this spiritual searching and practice everyone does.."
1)Death scares the shit out of them.
2) Some people would like to find answers to the mysteries of existence and think this may be a way to do it.
3) Some would like to gain power for themselves and power over others.
4) All of the above
Then one day they discover: "they are ultimately no nearer the answer, they might at some stage feel they are, but then that illusion is taken away too."
So, at that point they may:
1) Give up in despair
2) Cynically take advantage of others on the same search by pretending to have special knowledge, etc.
3) Recognise that the immediate presence that they had all along is the answer they were searching for.
Posted by: tucson | September 27, 2009 at 07:31 PM
"2) Cynically take advantage of others on the same search by pretending to have special knowledge, etc."
So what have the nondualists REALIZED then?
And how come they pretend to have some special REALIZATION?
Posted by: George | September 28, 2009 at 02:00 AM
"what have the nondualists REALIZED then?"
...what are "nondualists"?? and who says they have "REALIZED"?? and what does "REALIZED" specifically mean?
"how come they pretend to have some special REALIZATION?"
...who said they have "some special REALIZATION"?? where is that said?? and how is this known??
Posted by: zz top | September 28, 2009 at 02:35 AM
"what are nondualists?? and who says they have REALIZED?? and what does REALIZED specifically mean?"
-- strange people who believe the world is an illusion. They do. The last question I would love to know the answer to also.
"who said they have some special REALIZATION?? where is that said?? and how is this known??"
-- They do. Repeatedly on here where i am lectured on this special realization which cannot be learnt or conceptualized, but luckily enough it can be got from a REALIZED person to a disciple with faith (see Osho's blog). The last question i would love to know the answer to also.
Posted by: George | September 28, 2009 at 02:46 AM
Great article............We ARE part of Mystery. How can mystery KNOW mystery. To know something means......? There always has to be UN-knowing/unknown whereever there is known......voila
Not just the church of course, but also the Church of Scientism, they believe that....soon...they will 'know'
Posted by: Mu | September 28, 2009 at 02:29 PM
You have mis-understood the meaning of REALIZATION. It is so utterly simple that you cannot help but complicate it.
I will illustrate with an example. Suppose you are not sure that you have eyes because you have never seen your own eyes. Just imagine there are no mirrors or reflective surfaces in the world. How would you KNOW that you have eyes?
You cannot SEE your own eyes – so how can you be sure? The eyes SEE – but they cannot see themselves – so logically you will never know you have eyes. Then you begin to understand that the eyes are what you see through. Hence if you SEE – it means you HAVE to have eyes – you do not need to see them to KNOW this. The fact that you SEE is enough to KNOW that you have eyes. The moment this dawns on you – you have made a REALIZATION that you have eyes – even though you will never see them.
Now George – you are like the person who is saying that it is impossible to realize that you have eyes because you can never see them – hence you can never know. You question the person who says – he KNOWS he has eyes because he has realized that he is looking though them. What he is stating is SIMPLE and OBVIOUS. It is not anything special – it is very ordinary.
However, when you try to understand using the mind – you will never be able to.
Go to my post entitled
“True Listening - and Why the Buddha is always mis-understood”
At www.tinyurl.com/Santmat for a more detailed explanation and you can hear Osho talking about – there is a link there to his video
Posted by: Osho Robbins | September 28, 2009 at 05:36 PM
"You have mis-understood the meaning of REALIZATION. It is so utterly simple that you cannot help but complicate it."
LOL, maybe, but i should imagine there are many that miss it, and for good reason.
I've heard the infamous koan of the seer pointing at the moon, and even heard a parable of talking bubbles in a stream - however all i want to know is how is this REALIZATION made if not by the mind? By what other means do human percieve other than via their mind?
Posted by: George | September 29, 2009 at 01:49 AM
"all i want to know is how is this REALIZATION made if not by the mind?"
--All phenomena are mind and mind is all phenomena. What else could either be? Here is the key..There has never been a phenomenal subject. The notion is nonsense. When this is profoundly and deeply apprehended, then you see how things are. That's it. That's all there is to it.
Posted by: tucson | September 29, 2009 at 07:56 AM
"All phenomena are mind and mind is all phenomena"
So we agree that the mind percieves all and only through the mind is all percieved, but if all that is percieved is illusory then surely it follows that this REALIZATION is also illusory?
What makes this REALIZATION any different from any other experience, recognition, feeling or thought made by the brain.
I don't believe all there is is mind. I believe there is an objective phenomenal universe or reality which actually exists and is composed of a multitude of things and forms which are born, exist and die out. One of these things is a human being which has evolved a nervous system, along with all other sentient beings, which each experience a particular spectrum of this reality or universe, but not all of it.
Since the human brain appears to be the most highly evolved it allows humans to surpass their natural spectrum and experience a broader range of reality - the only species seemingly able to do so - but it is possible that alien species exist that have even more evolved brains.
Posted by: George | October 09, 2009 at 12:17 PM
Moving back to terra firma and duality which we actually percieve, what is it that differentiates between the things that percieve and those that do not?
Why are some things organic and able to percieve external reality while others appear to be inorganic and unable to perceive external reality?
This is the real question that needs answering, life. Is it due to the massive scale of the universe that inorganic elements eventually grouped together into a particular configuration to make a 'cell' capable of reproduction and this happened on earth under the right conditions?
Once you have a cell, you have life and an organism capable of perceiving and interacting with its environment, however limited that might be.
Nevertheless, the quandry is that these cells are made of periodic elements which are inorganic and yet together they make a form or organism which is organic and capable of perception.
The explanation for life appears to be luck or statistical probability in a very large universe where we are the statistic.
I don't really know how satisfying an answer that is, even intellectually let along spiritually, and imo illustrates there is still alot we do not know.
Posted by: George | October 09, 2009 at 12:52 PM
Here's a theory of mine:
'Conscious' comes from the latin meaning shared knowlege or common knowlege with another, and i believe human consciousness or the human mind, as opposed to the animal one, is aware of a larger spectrum of reality since it developed the capacity for language, which drastically accelerated shared knowledge or consciousness, and also fedback on itself in selecting and nurturing a human brain predisposed towards learning and abstract thought to be able to assimilate this conveyed knowledge without having to have the experiences themself.
This made the human mind distinctly unique and open-minded but also prey to all sorts of programming and conditioning, which are essential aspects to its own evolutionary success. Along with increased abstract thinking and problem solving and memory, emotional responses such as empathy were also increased to deal with this shared knowledge and to better appreciate the experiences conveyed by others.
Not only did we begin to think about things abstractly, but searched for meaning in these things.
Whereas mind and consciousness were historically conditioned by more narrow cultures and languages - with improved technology and communication (such as transport, writing, tv and now the internet with its translations) - such individual consciousness are now being shared by more and informed by more and tending towards a sort of global consciousness.
Its no suprise that each generation views the past one as largely backward, because they are, their views are generally more insular since they are not exposed to as much shared information. Its also no suprise that seemingly backward tendencies like slavery, feudalism, monarchy etc are replaced with fairer alternatives as the global consciousness develops and our views on humanity and our range of viewing reality expands.
Posted by: George | October 09, 2009 at 01:40 PM
George, your thoughts remind me of Robert Wright's "The Evolution of God," which I'm almost finished with. This morning I popped ahead to a concluding chapter, where Wright defends his idea that the evolution of a higher moral order in religion points to the existence of a dynamic in life/human development that could be called "God."
I don't think this conclusion is justified, but regardless there does seem to be a steady trend toward a wider, more inclusive, less parochial, outlook in us human beings. Technology and social structures (such as international trade) are partly responsible for this.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | October 09, 2009 at 02:29 PM
"So we agree that the mind percieves all and only through the mind is all percieved, but if all that is percieved is illusory then surely it follows that this REALIZATION is also illusory?"
---It is not 'through' mind that all is perceived. Rather, all that is perceived IS Mind.
It is not that all that is perceived is illusory. Rather, all is reality illusorily perceived.
Again: There has never been a phenomenal subject.
When this is not just comprehended but actually apprehended then it all becomes perfectly clear.
Posted by: tucson | October 09, 2009 at 03:36 PM