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February 24, 2010

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I think the "mystery" cannot be put into words because it transcends rational thought and therefore language. It has been described by many mystics in paradoxical language, however.

But I believe "God" can be experienced directly through particular spiritual practices. But one must engage in the experiment or injunction of prayer/meditation in order to experience the data that is revealed from such experimentation.

Very few people actually engage in spiritual practice and instead talk a great deal about a God that has very little to do with a direct experience of the "mystery."

The only pointing to God that is useful is a pointing to the practices that over time will result in a direct experience of that which is utterly transcendent of all there is yet is utterly imminent in all there is.

Here's a Taoist answer: All language is shorthand for things we can't adequately describe via words and meanings. So, a made-up word like Tao simply is shorthand for saying something like "that mysterious life force that none of us really understands and is part of all being."

If we didn't have words to signify such things, then our conversations would be even more convoluted than they are now. Imagine having to use the quoted phrase above or something like it every time you wanted to mention the mysterious force of life. It's simply easier to say God, Allah, Tao or the Great Spaghetti Monster.

A second point is that Taoists don't attempt to describe Tao simply because we don't know what the great IT is. In fact, most of us don't think of it as an IT at all.

yeah these books that try to make a case for God are utterly hopeless, anyone could do a better job with the slightest ability towards rhetoric and logic.

your last 4 paragraphs some it up totally.

the problem with believers is they have not learnt to use their faculties of reason; knowledge of facts of the different theologies; is a completely different animal to intellectual reason and critical thought.

Brian,

It seems that the possibility of a transcendent experience is less problematic than the opportunities for a screwed up power dynamic such a concept affords. The problem is people using the possibility of transcendence as a means of having power over others by claiming knowledge of the ineffable.

Apart from this power dynamic, though, are you really so bothered by the concept of the ineffable?

I, for one, still get off on it. It motivates meβ€”the idea that there is something RIGHT HERE but that is "beyond" words and thoughts and physical forms. Or maybe not "beyond", as beyond implies separateness, but beyond my current perception, perhaps.


Rambling Taoist, I agree with you about words. We have to use them to communicate effectively with each other. If a word like "God," "Tao," or "Brahman" is used as synonymous with "mystery" or "who the heck knows?" then there's no problem.

It's only when we wrongly believe that we know something about the ultimate nature of the cosmos -- existence itself -- do these words lead us to a restricted, dogmatic, anthropocentric view of things.

Adam, I'm not at all bothered by the concept of the ineffable. Like you, I'm energized by the notion that our limited human cognition and perception are missing something obvious that can be the source of meaning and pleasure in our lives.

As you said, what I object to is the assumption that there is a preferred way to find this mysterious "something," or that the utterly subjective (or almost utterly) can be made into an objective truth that only religions and defined spiritual paths/philosophies are privy to.

Blogger B wrote: "Like you, I'm energized by the notion that our limited human cognition and perception are missing something obvious"

The obvious, non-dualistically...

I am not in front of you or behind you. I am not inside or outside. I am not above or below. I am neither here nor there, neither near nor far. I am not anywhere or nowhere.
Where could there be any 'where' wherein I could be? I have never come so I will never go. I know no before or afer. I am not old and was never young, for whenever could there be a 'when' during which I could be? I am not any thing nor no thing, for what thing could there be that I could be or not be...Since there is no 'I'.

I (for the sake of language) am awareness of all that is aware. I am the seeing of whatever is seen, the hearing of whatever is heard, the perceiving of whatever is perceived, the knowing of whatever is known, the doing of whatever is done.

Because, I am awareness of everything of which any being can be aware. Beyond awareness no thing is and no thing can be anything but awareness. There has never been anything that existed other than as its awareness.

This is the obvious and everyone can be aware as 'it' because awareness is all any being is.

We already know this in the silence of a quiet mind and the absence of a conceptual I-ness. We are always free to recognise this.

This is not presented to initiate a long thread of discussion or debate. It is just writing. If it means something to anyone, fine. If it comes across as pretentious, false, cliche' or just plain crap, that's fine too.

There is perhaps a case for God, but the religious seem incapable of making it. I doubt one could argue a strong case for a personal god, but there is definitely room for some broader arguements.

Why something rather than nothing?

Why is this something ordered around a dozen or so finely-tuned physical parameters which if only one was slightly out, the universe would not exist?

Why is everything that makes up the something of the universe impermanent instead of permanent or at least some things being permanent?

If causality and order are fundamental to physics, how is this reconciled with the seeming exception of the Big Bang spontaneity and without cause?

Alternatively, if the universe is permanent, how is this exception reconciled with the seemingly general rule of everything else being impernanent?

Is the primordial soup theory really a sufficient explanation for the creation of organic life? I dunno why the creationists focus on the fossil record.

Organised religion is nonsense, but is their an underlying perrenial philosophy or mystical experience at the core of all religions, which have caused virtually every human society on earth to have developed religious beliefs?

Why have we developed a consciousness that has developed a level of self-awareness which agonises over its meaning or value in the universe?

Why have we developed emotions like love that are so strong that they can overcome our strongest biological instict of survival?

We appear to be the only animal that will consider taking our own lives if felt to be without meaning or having lost a loved one or to help a loved one.

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