René Magritte: People who look for symbolic meanings fail to grasp the inherent poetry and mystery of the image

People who look for symbolic meanings fail to grasp the inherent poetry and mystery of the image. No doubt they sense this mystery, but they wish to get rid of it. They are afraid. By asking what does this mean?’ they express a wish that everything be understandable. But if one does not reject the mystery, one has quite a different response. One asks other things.

– René Magritte

That’s how it is in life as well. A part of us wishes to eliminate mystery by telling ourselves we understand, we know what’s going on.

Why? Likely in the hope of finding safety. We think telling ourselves we understand makes us safe.

If we don’t reject mystery, we have a different response. We ask other things.

We know we don’t know. We cannot fully know. We live in and as mystery.

We can still use stories. We can still understand in a conventional sense. We may even be an “expert” on something in a conventional sense. And yet, we don’t know any of it for certain. We know the limits of stories. We rest in and as mystery.

This is not just about our conscious view. Many parts of us hold stories as true even if we consciously tell ourselves we don’t. That’s where inquiry comes in. It can help us identify and examine these stories parts of us still hold as true.

Image created by me and Midjourney

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Why do we crave mystery? Do we crave the mystery we already are?

I saw a brief comment from someone who has dedicated his life to the unexplained – UFOs, cryptids, and so on.

That’s understandable and it’s good that some explore those things.

WHAT IS NOT UNEXPLAINED?

At the same time, I am sitting here wondering: What is not unexplained?

To me, it seems that all without exception is unexplained. It’s inherently a mystery.

WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING?

That anything is at all is a profound mystery.

How come there is something rather than nothing?

That’s something thoughts cannot even begin to answer or get a grasp on.

A MYSTERY TO MYSELF

I am a mystery to myself.

When I notice my nature, I find myself in and as that mystery.

I rest in and as that mystery.

MYSTERY IN A CONVENTIONAL SENSE

Everything is a profound mystery, even that which is the most familiar to us and that which our thoughts have lots of stories about.

Reality is always more than and different from our ideas about it.

Thoughts are questions about the world. Thoughts are different in nature from what they point to. (Unless they happen to point to thoughts.)

In a conventional sense, we only scratch the surface in terms of understanding anything. There is always an infinite amount more to learn and explore.

There are always different contexts and worldviews to understand it within, which make as much or more sense than the ones we are familiar with now, and which would turn it all upside down and inside out.

At best, something is only partially explained in a limited and conventional sense.

MYSTERY AS A PROJECTION

When we seek mystery in a conventional sense – UFOs, cryptids, unsolved cases – I suspect it’s partly a projection.

We are already living the mystery. It’s everywhere and unavoidable.

If we don’t notice it, then we seek it “out there” in a conventional sense.

When we notice, and to the extent it’s a living reality to us, it’s here and we don’t need to seek it out in those ways. It can be fun, now and then, and as a spice, but it’s not necessary for satisfying our craving for mystery.

Why do we crave mystery? Because we are it. We crave the mystery we are. We crave noticing the mystery we already are. We crave consciously living from and as it.1

And those too are questions. This too is a mystery.

MY STORY WITH THIS

As far back as I remember, I have lived with an experience of awe and mystery of life, punctuated by times when it came much more in the foreground.

Before school age, I had memories of the time before this incarnation, between lives. I remember standing in the yard looking at the stars when I was ten and profoundly experiencing what Carl Sagan pointed to: We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I remember sleeping under a starry sky in the Norwegian mountains and having that experience even more deeply. As a kid, I was fascinated by ESP, ghosts, UFOs, and anything mysterious.

In the initial oneness shift when I was sixteen, it was clear that all is a mystery and all is a mystery to itself. Thoughts cannot even begin to touch it. That’s still here.

I don’t mind exploring some of the conventional mysteries of life, although they are happening within the larger mystery of all of existence. The real mystery is that anything is at all. It’s the mystery I am and live. It’s the mystery of all that thoughts cannot touch. It’s the mystery of all we still have to learn about everything in a conventional sense.

(1) The other side of this, and a more superficial craving, is to fill in the blank spaces, to put a story on whatever and tell ourselves that’s how it is. While our nature is mystery and craves knowing itself as mystery, we also have parts of us that wishes to feel safe and tries to feel safe by telling itself it knows.

Image created by me and Midjourney

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Mystery of existence

Why is this website called Mystery of Existence?

PERSONAL REASONS

Mostly, because I have a visceral experience of the mystery of existence. It’s all a mystery. It cannot be captured by thought. It can only be explored and lived.

And calling it that is a reminder that invites my system to shift into receptivity and curiosity.

MORE IN DETAIL

And then there is a more involved answer.

In a conventional sense, we know some things. We know we don’t know some things. And there is an infinite amount we don’t know we don’t know. In that sense, we are living the mystery.

There is always more data to be collected. Different perspectives that makes as much or more sense than the ones we are familiar with. New contexts that make as much or more sense. And different worldviews that may turn what we thought we knew inside out and upside down. Here too, there is mystery.

Then there is the nature of our mental representations. They are questions about the world. Their function is to help us orient and function in the world. They are different in kind to what they point to. (Unless what they point to happen to be mental representations.) Like any map, they highlight some things and leave a lot out. They cannot capture any full, final, or absolute truth. And reality is always more than and different from our ideas about it. (And also fundamentally less than.)

When it comes to our nature, all the same applies. We cannot capture it in thoughts, just like we cannot capture anything with thoughts. Thoughts differentiate, and reality – and our nature – is inherently undivided. Thoughts inevitably point to something within the content of experience, and not what it all happens within and as.

We cannot know anything for certain. Our experience is limited, and our mental representations are questions about the world. And that leaves mystery. The mystery we are and live, whether we notice or not.

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Ibn ‘Arabi: O Lord, increase my perplexity concerning Thee!

O Lord, increase my perplexity concerning Thee!

– Ibn ‘Arabi in Fusus al-Hikem and quoted in The Honesty of the Perplexed: Derrida and Ibn ‘Arabi on “Bewilderment”

Why would we ask for perplexity?

The simple answer is that it helps us with receptivity, and it’s closer aligned with reality.

NOTICING MYSTERY

This is not about creating perplexity.

It’s about noticing that everything is ultimately mystery.

THE MYSTERY THAT’S ALREADY HERE

What we think we know is just that, what we think we know.

Any thought is a question about the world.

Thoughts are maps to help us orient and function in the world.

They are provisional and always up for revision.

They will change with experience and information.

And there are other contexts and worldview that fit the data as well or better, and will make as much or more sense to us, and that will turn everything inside out and upside down for us.

They cannot hold any final, full, or absolute truth.

The world is always more than and different from any map.

And that leaves the mystery. The mystery that’s already here.

NOT ONLY ABOUT GOD, AND ONLY ABOUT GOD

This is not only about God. This applies to everything.

And if we call everything God, then it is only about God.

RECEPTIVITY

Why is this important?

As mentioned above, it’s closer aligned with reality. It comes from noticing what’s already here.

And it helps open us to be a little more receptive. It helps us find curiosity and go outside of what we already think we know.

NOTICING WHAT WE MORE FUNDAMENTALLY ARE

It’s also a kind of prerequisite for noticing our nature. The more we shift out of any ideas of being anything in particular, or that any view has any real truth in it, the more we can find what we more fundamentally are.

As soon as we hold onto any ideas of being anything in particular, we identify with an identity, we identify with the viewpoint of that story, we take ourselves to be something within the content of experience. And what we more fundamentally are is something else. We are capacity for it all, and we are what it all happens within and as.

Holding onto that as an idea does the same, it ties us to a particular view and we take ourselves as something particular within the field of experience instead of the field itself.

The solution here is noticing what’s already here. Noticing what we already are. Noticing what we already are most familiar with. Noticing what’s all we have ever known.

And to notice with some guidance from someone familiar with that particular terrain.

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Does explaining through psychology remove the mystery and magic from life?

I saw a post on social media about how psychologizing everything removes the magic and mystery of life.

That’s not how it is for me.

WHEN UNDERSTANDING REMOVES THE MYSTERY

Yes, if you assume that your psychological explanations are correct and true and all there is, then it does remove a sense of mystery and magic. But that’s out of alignment with reality. That is pretending that our maps are more than they are. It goes against common sense and the essence of science.

WHEN UNDERSTANDING GOES HAND-IN-HAND WITH THE MYSTERY

For me, exploring through the lens of psychology – as I do in most of my writings – goes hand-in-hand with mystery.

It’s an exploration.

What comes out of it are maps with all of the benefits and limitations inherent in maps. They are different in kind from what they are about. They highlight some things and leave in infinite amount out. They are guesses about the world. They have a practical function only, to help us navigate and function in he world. They are provisional and have temporary value only. They cannot hold any full, final, or absolute truth. Reality is always more than and different from any map.

This context is more aligned with reality.

And it keeps the mystery and magic in life.

APPLIED TO AWAKENING

I write about awakening in some of these articles. And when I do, I often create a map of some aspects of awakening.

For instance, both in direct noticing and through logic, we find we are consciousness. If we “have” consciousness, then to ourselves we have to BE consciousness. The world, to us, happens within and as consciousness. It happens within and as the consciousness we are. The world, to us, appears as consciousness. The consciousness we are is one. So we are the oneness the world, to us, happens within and as.

This fits what mystics across times and cultures describe.

It’s a psychological way to understand awakening, and it fits perfectly with a wide range of worldviews – from materialism to a spirituality that sees all of existence as the divine.

Does this remove the mystery or magic from awakening? Or from life?

It could… if I pretend I know that this is how it is and that this is all there is. But I would have to do a lot of pretending for that to be the case.

In reality, it’s a guess. It’s a map for practical and temporary use only. It opens for and fits a wide range of worldviews. And it’s compatible with a more spiritual understanding of the world.

It’s open to the mystery and magic of awakening and existence.

I am a mystery to myself

I am a mystery to myself in a few different ways.

What’s undiscovered is a mystery.

What I think I know is, in reality, still a mystery.

And what I am is a mystery to itself.

WHAT’S UNDISCOVERED IS A MYSTERY TO ME

Anything I haven’t yet discovered about myself as a human self, and anything I have not yet discovered about my nature (what I am in my own first-person experience), is a mystery to me.

And no matter how familiar I am with this, and how much I have explored it, I am still only scratching the surface. There is always further to go. There is more to discover. New perspectives to understand something within. And new context – in thought and in our more visceral experience – which sometimes turns everything inside-out and upside-down.

WHAT I THINK I KNOW IS STILL A MYSTERY

I am familiar with certain terrains within who and what I am. I know a lot of the theories among specialists. I have maps that seem to work relatively well.

And what I am exploring is still a mystery to me.

Mental representations are different in kind to what they are about. They are simplifications. They leave out anything I am not (yet) familiar with. And reality is, ultimately, far simpler than any mental representation since – to me – its nature is my nature. It is (what a thought may call) capacity and consciousness.

Even if I notice and have direct experience, that doesn’t mean I really understand it. And when it’s reflected in mental representations, that comes with all the limitations inherent in mental representations.

AS WHAT I AM, I AM A MYSTERY TO MYSELF

The mystery also applies to what I am in an even more immediate sense. Although I am inherently familiar with what I am, as we all are whether we notice or not. And although I have noticed and explored my nature for, in terms of time, more than three decades, I am still a mystery to myself.

I am the mystery. I live from the mystery. I live the mystery. Everything in my life and reality is an expression of mystery.

A CORE MYSTERY: HOW COME THERE IS ANYTHING AT ALL?

There is another mystery inherent in what I am and reality itself.

We may not be sure about the nature of reality, but we know there is something – or, at least, the appearance of something (and that’s something).

So how come there is anything at all? How come there is something rather than nothing?

To me, this mystery is baffling and my thoughts cannot even begin to touch it.

At least locally here, and probably locally other places, oneness is baffled that it exists. 

WHO AND WHAT I AM

I am here differentiating between who and what I am.

Who I am is this human self in the world with relationships, playing certain roles, with psychological parts, dynamic, and characteristics, and so on.

And what I am is what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience. Here, I find I am more fundamentally capacity for the world as it appears to me. And I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

Note: See below for another version of this article.

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Where do I come from?

Where do I come from? What’s my origin?

HUMAN SELF

As a human self, I come from my parents, my culture, my species, my ancestors going back to the first single-celled organisms. I come from and am part of this living planet. I am an expression of this evolving universe. And so on.

WHAT I AM

As what I am, it’s different. Here, I can’t find any place I am coming from. I am from nowhere. And here, I have no parents, no country, I belong to no species, I belong to no planet, and so on. To me, all of these happen within and as what I am.

MYSTERY

Ultimately, I come from and am mystery.

As this human self in the universe, my ultimate origin is mystery. That there is anything at all – that there is something rather than nothing – is the ultimate mystery.

And as what I am, I am mystery and I am mystery to myself.

As both who and what I am, my origin is mystery and I am mystery.

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Demystifying and pointing out the mystery as needed

I like to demystify what’s unnecessarily shrouded in mystery. And point out the mystery in what we assume we know and understand.

DEMYSTIFYING

So what is surrounded by unnecessary mystery when it could be more clear?

One example is awakening.

There are relatively simple ways to talk about awakening that demystify it.

And, more importantly, there are relatively simple ways to help people have a direct taste of it for themselves.

POINTING OUT MYSTERY

We also like to assume we know several things for sure.

So here, it’s helpful to remind ourselves of the mystery inherent in everything.

In a conventional sense, there is always more to learn about anything. What we know is a drop in the ocean compared with what there is to know.

There are always new contexts to understand something within. And sometimes, these contexts make a lot more sense and completely change how we see something.

Any story we have about anything is incomplete. The map is different from the terrain. It’s different in nature from the terrain. And it – by necessity – simplifies, highlights, and leaves out. Reality is always more than and different from our stories about it, and sometimes also far more simple.

This also goes for who or what we assume we are. Can we be certain our ideas are true? What do we find if we look more closely in our own first-person experience?

And what about the greatest mystery of it all: How come there is something rather than nothing? For me, this stops my thoughts and there is nothing that comes up in me in response, apart from awe.

MEDICINES

These two are medicines.

Demystifying is medicine for assuming that something is more of a mystery than it needs to be.

And pointing out the mystery is medicine for assuming we know how something is.

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Richard Rohr: People who’ve had any genuine spiritual experience always know that they don’t know

People who’ve had any genuine spiritual experience always know that they don’t know. They are utterly humbled before mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all, in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind.

– Richard Rohr

Yes, genuine spiritual openings reveal the mystery inherent in all.

It’s only when thoughts come in to interpret and make a story about it that we may be able to tell ourselves that we know and understand. But we don’t really – at least not at the level of stories. We just tell ourselves we do.

Note: Some would say that if the “spiritual experience” goes a bit further, it’s not an experience anymore. It’s what we are noticing itself. It’s a noticing, not an experience. Although, for me, a noticing is a kind of experience. I understand where they are coming from, and appreciate the distinction, but feel it’s a bit idealized.

Mysteries of the universe

Many of us are fascinated by the conventional mysteries of the universe.

How old is it? Was there an actual “beginning”? Does it have an end? Will it end in heat death or does it pulse? What’s behind the observations we label “black matter” and “black energy”? Is there other life in the universe? Is it intelligent? Has it visited us? What happened to Mary Celeste? Does bigfoot exist? Will we have controlled fusion within the next ten years?

These are entertaining and – for most of us – relatively unthreatening topics.

THE MYSTERY WITHIN WHAT WE THINK WE UNDERSTAND AND KNOW

And yet, the mysteries of the universe go far beyond this.

Anything we collectively think we know are stories with limited and temporary validity.

And anything I personally think I know are stories with limited and temporary validity.

These are stories with a practical function only. They help us orient and navigate in the world. They cannot reflect any complete, final, or absolute truth. Reality is always more than and different from our stories about it.

There is a fundamental mystery even in what’s most familiar to us and what we think we know and understand.

And taking that in is, in some cases, difficult. We may struggle quite a bit before we open to the ultimate mystery within what we think we know and understand.

What are our most cherished stories about ourselves, others, and the world? They may include basic assumptions about the world and ourselves. For instance, the world is knowable. I am a being and object in the world. They may also include politics and ethics. People should be decent and fair. People shouldn’t destroy nature. Greed is bad. And they may include our ideas about our own life and other people. I am a victim. Something terrible happened to me. I am good. She is a bad person. He shouldn’t lie. Or even metaphysics. God is love. God is a being. God is all of existence.

THE MYSTERY OF WHAT WE ARE

There is also the mystery of our own nature, and the nature of reality.

What am I more fundamentally, in my own first-person experience? How is it to allow this human self to reorganize within that noticing? How is it to live from it, here and now?

Is what I find also the nature of existence in general?

ENTERTAINING VS CHALLENGING MYSTERIES

Lisa may enjoy the entertaining and relatively unchallenging mysteries of the universe.

But does she enjoy the ones that challenge her most cherished assumptions about herself, others, life, and the world?

How do we relate to those more fundamental mysteries?

Fascinated by mysteries in the world, and the mysteries of existence

It’s built into humans to be curious about mysteries. It motivates to explore and get familiar with more of the world, and this gives us a survival advantage. In today’s world, it’s expressed in many ways: a fascination with scientific investigations, crime mysteries, mysteries in the world, the supernatural, and so on.

I listened to parts of an interview about the latter, with someone who has dedicated his life to collecting strange and supposedly real-life stories from his region in the UK. This is obviously valuable, either as an example of living and continued folklore or as a starting point for a more thorough – ideally scientific – investigation to see what’s behind it. (Probably the usual mix of hoaxes, tall tales, misinterpretations, and perhaps something genuinely unexplained and mysterious.)

What all of this has in common is that it’s happening within the world. It’s happening within the content of our experience, and it’s relatively localized and narrow in focus.

I love some of these mysteries as much as others, but something else is even more fascinating to me.

MYSTERY OF EXISTENCE

There is another mystery, and that’s the mystery of existence.

This is the mystery of what we are. When I explore what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience, what do I find? Am I this human self? Am I any particular content of experience? Or am I more fundamentally something else? What we find is, in one sense, very simple and familiar, and yet it keeps revealing itself and it’s endless in how it unfolds itself in this human life.

It’s also the mystery of who we are, as a human being in the world. This is immensely complex and here too, there is always more to explore and become familiar with. It’s an exploration that offer endless new terrains as well as insights and perspectives.

There is perhaps the ultimate mystery, which is that anything exists at all. Why is there something rather than nothing? To me, this is a question that stops my mind and leaves silence. It’s something I can’t even begin to grasp.

There is also the mystery of the nature of reality. I can find my own more fundamental nature, and yet, is that the same nature of all of existence? It obviously seems that way to me, since the world – to me – happens within and as what I am. To me, it inevitably appears to have the same nature as me. This is a question both for science and inner exploration.

And there is the mystery inherent in anything, including anything within the world. There is always more to explore and discover. Always new insights, perspectives, and contexts. We cannot capture anything accurately within thought since thought is different in nature from what it is about, and is very limited and simplified compared to what it is about. Reality is always more than and different from any maps.

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The mysteries within our world

In 1924, an elaborate tunnel was accidentally found under a street in Washington, D.C. Despite theories that it was a lair of bootleggers or ‘Teuton war spies’, the tunnel was dug by the Smithsonian entomologist Harrison G. Dyar, who just liked to dig tunnels in his spare time.

– QI – Quite Interesting on Facebook

This is a reminder that, sometimes, apparent mysteries within our world have more mundane answers than we first imagine.

It’s easy to let our imagination run away with us and get caught up in fascinating and intriguing possibilities and even tell ourselves it has to be that way, while the reality is quite different.

It’s true that sometimes, the reality is something similar to what we imagine, or even more surprising.

And often, it’s different, and perhaps more simple, innocent, and ordinary.

(We can also go one step further and examine our stories about the conventional reality, and we may find something different from how it initially appeared to us.)

Ways of talking about mystery

The biggest mystery in the universe is you.

– Adyashanti

I posted this quote from Adya on Facebook.

THE RESPONSES

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.)

VALIDITY IN EACH ONE

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?

INVITES US TO DIRECT NOTICING

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.

Adyashanti: The biggest mystery in the universe is you

The biggest mystery in the universe is you.

– Adyashanti

What a thought tells us we are is not what we are. Reality is always more than and different from any thought.

Even within direct noticing, there is always more to discover.

Since to us, the world happens within and as what we are, any mystery is the mystery of ourselves.

Adya is using this as a medicine for our tendency to think we know, whether we assume we know based on what a thought tells us or our more immediate noticing.

That anything is at all, is perhaps the greatest mystery of all.

Wendel Berry: Our real work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go

we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings

– Wendell Berry, Our real work

This is true in a conventional sense. When we no longer know what to do, we are turned back on ourselves and need to find a different approach, one that’s outside of what’s familiar to us. We enter unknown territory, and that’s where we learn, discover, and are transformed.

It’s also true in a more universal sense. We never really know what to do. If we are honest with ourselves, we are always baffled. We live in and as the unknown, whether we notice or not. When we notice this, and to the extent we take it in, we open up for the same kind of exploration of an unknown terrain, and the same possibility for us to be transformed.

In practice, we obviously still know what we know and have the experiences and skills we have. We also have the skills and experiences of others, and we have our own inner guidance. We have a lot to draw on, and we’ll make use of it in an ordinary way.

And yet, we also know that we ultimately don’t know. We are always entering the unknown and we live from and as the unknown. And that opens us up for a more genuine receptivity and curiosity, a deeper sense of adventure and discovery, and for allowing ourselves – as this human self and the field it all happens within and as – to be tranformed.

The divine is a mystery and all we know

The divine is a mystery and all we know.

– paraphrased from Ric Weinman, founder of Vortex Healing

Yes, we can always notice and explore more about the divine, and it will always ultimately be a mystery. It’s a mystery to itself.

At the same time, the divine is all there is. It’s all we know. It’s all of who and what we are and all we know.

We can also rephrase this: What we are is a mystery and all we know.

We can always notice, explore, and discover more of what we are. And what we are is ultimately a mystery. It’s a mystery to itself.

And what we are is all we know. All we know is what’s in our sense fields, and that we somehow are capacity for all of it. What’s in our sense fields happens within and as what we are, and the capacity is what we are. All we know is what we are.

Rabindranath Tagore: That I exist is a perpetual surprise

That I exist is a perpetual surprise

– Rabindranath Tagore

Yes, I keep being surprised and astonished by this.

How come there is anything at all? How come there is consciousness and a world?

This is one of the few questions that completely stops my mind. There is no real answer.

When I started this website, I decided to call it Mystery of Existence. And although there are many mysteries of existence, this is perhaps the ultimate one.

One of my earliest childhood memories is related to this surprise: I sit in a leather chair at the west window in the living room, looking at the pages of a Donald Duck comic book, and I suddenly notice I exist and am astonished by it. This may have been when I was between three and five years old.

The mystery in what we think we know

I saw someone talk about the mysteries around us, and he implicitly made a distinction between what’s not a mystery (what we apparently know) and what’s a mystery (what we don’t know).

That’s not wrong, but it’s also a somewhat false distinction.

The mystery is equally much in what we think we know as what we don’t know.

We never know anything for certain. There is always more to discover about anything – new views, information, underlying assumptions, contexts, and so on.

Reality is infinitely rich and will always surprise us.

When we discover that, there is a sense of mystery, awe, and sense of adventure here in anything and everything.

And really, it’s something we admit to ourselves. We always knew. The child in us always knew that we don’t know anything for certain and there is always more to discover.

In what way is existence a mystery?

I have written other posts about mystery of existence – which happens to also be the name of this website – but thought I would revisit it and see what comes up.

In what way is existence a mystery?

That anything exists at all is the greatest mystery of all. It’s the one I can’t even begin to get a sense of or intuit. How come there is something rather than nothing?

A more conventional mystery is all the things we can know something about but don’t yet. A lot of these are things we don’t even know we don’t know. And some, probably a minuscule portion, is what we know or suspect we don’t know.

Then there is the mystery inherent in what we think we know. Any story is a question about the world. It points to one facet of something, and there are many other stories that may fit it equally well or better or at least give us a valuable insight and perspective about what the story points to.

And then there is the mystery inherent in everything. Our stories have only a pragmatic function. They help us orient and function in the world. They have no ultimate or final truth in them. What they refer to is ultimately a mystery to us, no matter how much we tell ourselves we understand it.

Even when we recognize all as consciousness and what we are as consciousness, all is a mystery.

For me, it’s helpful to notice all these ways existence is a mystery. It helps me find receptivity and curiosity, and it helps with holding stories about everything and anything a little lighter.

The ultimate mystery: that anything exists at all

There are many daily-life and conventional mysteries. How did Earth evolve into a living system? Is there life other places in the universe? How to cure cancer? What is gravity? Is there life after death? Why didn’t she answer my phone call?

There is no end to these mysteries. And we have some answers to some of them. At best, these are pragmatic answers that helps us orient and function in the world, even if they are by no means the final word.

In a sense, everything is a mystery, including the things we tell ourselves we understand or have a practical grasp on. We don’t really know what’s going on.

And there is yet another mystery, the biggest and ultimate and perhaps most baffling mystery: that anything exists at all. Why is there something rather than nothing?

As far as I know, we don’t really have any answers to that one. Not even the beginning of an answer. (Apart from mythological ones which, in my experience, don’t seem to touch it.)

For me, this question stills my mind. It shows my mind what it cannot even begin to grasp.

Image: NASA, Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2014

It’s all a mystery and the mystery

It’s all A mystery and THE mystery.

It’s all a mystery in a conventional sense. Anything in life is something to keep exploring. How we experience it and the stories we tell ourselves (and each other) about it keeps unfolding and changing. There is always more to explore. There are always new stories about it that makes as much or more sense. There are always new contexts (sets of stories) we can see it within that makes as much or more sense to us. In that way, everything is a mystery that keeps unfolding for us.

It’s all also THE mystery. That which cannot be named. (Although we have many names for it – life, Spirit, God, Godhead, void and so on.) We can say it’s all happening within and as consciousness, but that’s a label which makes it look like we understand it more than we do. We can say it’s all untouchable by words and thoughts. We can say it’s all happening within and as that which in itself is nothing but allows and is it all. We can find ourselves in immediacy as all of that. And yet, it’s all a mystery.

Recognizing either of these forms of mystery helps us find a little more of the receptivity, awe, curiosity, and sincerity in ourselves that’s always here.

Mystery of existence

In a conventional view, we may see some things as known (building a car, the function of the heart) and others things as unknown (dark matter, the fate of the universe). Some things are known, other things are a mystery. 

But really, all is a mystery. Our understanding is provisional at best. A guide to help us orient and function in the world. As I often say, there is no final or absolute truth in our ideas and understanding. They are not the final word about anything. 

In an ordinary sense, we can always learn more, we can see things in a new context or within a new worldview or paradigm, we can see it from new perspectives. 

And in a very real sense, it’s all a mystery. It can’t be touched by thought or our human understanding. This is the context of our human life and that’s why I decided to call this website Mystery of Existence. 

The title of this website is a reminder that our understanding is provisional. A question about the world. It opens the door to humility rooted in reality. 

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The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.
– Albert Einstein

I have called this blog Mystery of Existence. In what way is existence a mystery, and in what way is it not?

To me, it’s all a mystery. Any image I have of the world is just that, an image. Reality itself is not that. It’s also a profound mystery that anything exists at all, and that I – as awareness, this human self – am.

And some things are – to some extent – less of a mystery. It’s all Spirit (awareness, awareness as form, capacity for all of it). There is identification with an image of me and I, or not. Certain things happens when a thought is taken as true (a sense of separation, fear, contraction etc.), and certain things happens when it’s released from being taken as true (love, kindness is more free to live through this life).

Mysteries and miracles

I believe that the miracles we create in an ordinary day are the ones that truly matter.
– SZ on facebook

Yes, and also noticing the amazing miracle that something is at all, and the equally amazing miracle of what’s here now – whether it is labeled mundane or anything else.

 

 

Mystery

In what way is existence a mystery?

It’s a mystery to me within stories. There is always more to learn. More information, knowledge, insights, experiences. There are always other worldviews, some profoundly different from what I am familiar with, and many that account for the same info equally well or even better than the ones I am familiar with. There are always more inclusive worldviews.

Whatever stories I have, what’s outside of these stories is a mystery. The vast majority of existence is a mystery in this sense.

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Mystery

When I explore something in thought, there is always further to go, always more thoughts generated. More details, viewpoints, another level of transcend and include and so on. 

And when I explore in immediacy – for instance how something appears in each sense field – it is a mystery. I can find ways to describe it including in all the Big Mind and conventional ways, but it is an utter mystery. 

I bring attention to an emotion (joy, sadness, anger) or pain, notice that it is a sensation and a label, and cannot tell what it is. I bring attention to the doer and observer gestalts, notice them too as sensations and images, and cannot tell what it is. I explore any object, including my own face in the mirror, and cannot tell what it is. 

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Baffled

One of the reasons I enjoy the magician Tommy Cooper is that he seems to be completely baffled by what is happening. (See Too many bottles.)

And that is how it is for me as well. Whatever happens is completely baffling.

Fingers move. Letters appear on the screen. They reflect thoughts. Others can read them and understand. There is awareness. This human self funcitons in the world. Choices are made. There is a sense of a separate I here or not. There is something rather than nothing.

I am every bit as baffled as Tommy Cooper.

And all of it is a play… Pretending to be baffled. Being baffled. Covering it up and pretending to not be baffled. The tricks themselves.

It is all play.

Mystery

The mystery of existence, and not…

What we are is not really a mystery. It is something we can notice for ourselves, here and now. We are this awakeness that everything happens within, to and as. Independent of the particulars of its content, which is no other than awakeness itself.

And some of the conventional things in the world is not that much of a mystery. We understand it well enough for practical purposes. We wake up, eat, go about our days, and generally function pretty well with our conventional understanding of life.

But everything else is pretty much a mystery.

Why is it that anything exists at all, including awakeness? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is there anything more astounding and amazing?

And within the world of form, everything is really a mystery. Our experience and understanding is always limited. There is always more to explore, new perspectives to apply, new maps to help organize the world and parts of the world. There is no end to what we can discover and explore within the world of form. Always new landscapes opening up. Always new aspects of landscapes we thought we were relatively familiar with.