Hameed Ali: When you say that the mystery is emptiness, this does not capture it completely

So, for instance, when you say that the mystery is emptiness, this does not capture it completely. It does not give you the whole picture. You might say it is stillness. Well, you’ve then discovered something else about it, which helps you understand what it does to desires and agitations. When you realize this stillness, you experience that the whole universe is still. Yet, since you have an innately inquiring mind and you are inquiring into the stillness, the next day you realize that the mystery is not only stillness, it is also knowledge. What does that mean? Well, you knew it was stillness, and you knew it was emptiness, so knowledge must be intrinsic to it. But the next day, you realize that somehow defining the mystery as knowledge does not do it either. You can say that the mystery is stillness, you can say it is knowledge, you can say it is emptiness, but any one of these—and even all of them together—do not do it justice. So every day, you have a new discovery about the mystery, as if you were flying through the blackness of outer space and suddenly found you had alighted on a whole new star system that you can explore with joy and excitement.

But even then, you realize that you have not reached the end, for the glimmer of another star system is beyond this one. Furthermore, you begin to understand that holding on to any of these discoveries will disconnect you from the inexhaustibility of Being—its very essence. You also might realize that you are attached to there being an end to your understanding.

So this is a slightly different approach to understanding the mystery than the concept of indeterminacy. The mystery is indeterminate, but not in the sense that it is impossible to make determinations about it. It is possible to make an infinite number of determinations, but these determinations fall short of capturing the essence of the mystery. Furthermore, these infinite determinations are actually the content of our consciousness.

What else is there to experience? We can say that the mystery is unknowable and forget about it, but if we do that, we remain limited to the fact of its unknowability. But it is also knowable, much more knowable than anything else—in fact, infinitely knowable. But it cannot be known totally and finally, so we can never say we have finished our exploration.

My understanding of the mystery is that it is an inexhaustible richness, and this richness is inseparable from the mystery. The richness is nothing but the revelation of the mystery, and that revelation is completely inexhaustible. This perspective gives us some basis for appreciating the way of inquiry.

– Hameed Ali (aka A.H. Almaas), Spacecruiser Inqury.


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