Ways of talking about mystery

The biggest mystery in the universe is you.

– Adyashanti

I posted this quote from Adya on Facebook.


The quote received a variety of responses and comments, each with some validity.

We can know things in a conventional sense. The first emphasized that we can know who we are and the importance of knowing just that. Yes, that’s true enough. At a human level, it’s helpful to know who we are in a variety of different ways. We can get to know our preferences, inclinations, and what makes us feel alive. We can find ways to bring this into life. We can examine our hangups, stressful beliefs, and traumas, and shift our relationship to these and invite in healing for them. We can explore some of the universals of how the mind works. And so on.

To some extent, these things are knowable and it helps us to explore and get to know it.

Several others responded to this and clarified Adya’s quote in different ways.

We cannot know anything for certain. I took a close-to-conventional view. In an everyday sense, there is of course a lot we know. And yet, when we look more closely, reality is often far more complex, rich, and open. Realizing we don’t know for certain opens us up to be surprised and discover something new.

We all have all sorts of knowledge in a conventional sense, which is more or less accurate and useful. And ultimately, we don’t know anything for certain. What we are and what anything is, is ultimately a mystery. We are that mystery.

The idea of mystery happens only when we try to think about it. Another said that mystery only comes about when we think about it. If we simply live, it just is. That’s true as well.

The label mystery only comes from a thought, and we can also say we are and live mystery.

Oneness. Another mentioned that the mystery is oneness. Which also, in a sense, is true. To us, the world happens within our sense fields and these are seamless and one. And there is also a oneness in a conventional sense since the universe is a seamless evolving whole.

To me, oneness isn’t a mystery different from the mystery inherent in anything since we can perceive it directly.

Poetry. Another expressed it beautifully in poetry.

Conventional knowing happens within a thought. Yet another mentioned that knowing only happens within thought, and what knows is what we are and a mystery to itself.

I would add that there is a kind of knowing in being, outside of thoughts. Although knowing is perhaps not the best word since most associate it with knowing within thoughts.

And a couple of other things…

To us, we are the biggest mystery. Adya specifically said that we are the biggest mystery. To ourselves, we are the biggest mystery. And that’s because, to us, the world happens within and as what we are. We don’t know, or know about, anything we are not.

Medicine for a condition. When Adya points out that we are the biggest mystery, it’s a remedy for a condition. It’s meant to help us shift out of any ideas that we know what we are, or that thoughts can tell us what we are – at any level. And perhaps also the thought that there isn’t more for us to discover in direct noticing.

The ultimate mystery. After going through this, I am reminded of the ultimate mystery: that anything is at all. How come there is something rather than nothing? (Even if that something is, to us, nothing taking the form of something.)


It’s beautiful with all of these comments since they all are valid in their own ways.

We can know ourselves in a conventional sense.

Whatever we know within thoughts is limited and reality is always more than and different from this.

The idea of mystery happens only within thought.

Since the world to us happens within and as what we are, we – what we are, our nature – is the biggest mystery to us.

Adya’s pointer is medicine for the tendency to think we know what we are.

And the ultimate mystery is that anything is at all. How come there is something rather than nothing?


We can all explore this and will express it differently if we try to put it into words. In that sense, it’s a shared exploration since we can use pointers from each other for our own exploration. And we are also ultimately alone in this exploration.

Words are no more than pointers. While sharing can be helpful, a discussion is not really apart from showing us the futility of discussing these things. I notice getting caught up in all of this is, to some extent, interesting. And it also feels a bit removed, stale, confusing, and uncomfortable if it goes too far.

It can get us caught up in abstractions more than immediate noticing.

For me, it’s a relief to drop all of this and return to the freshness and immediacy of noticing and exploring what’s here.

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