General Murray: I can’t make out whether you’re bloody bad-mannered or just half-witted.
T.E. Lawrence: I have the same problem, sir.-Lawrence of Arabia
Nothing can be known, ultimately. The truth is the unknown. Life is unknown, it is a mystery. But this does not sit well with the mind. The mind works in facts, in values, in definitions – discriminations between this and that. As discussed, our brain (well, some regions of the brain) work off of and are perpetuated by this concept of separation, of trying to figure out, work out some final conclusion or answer. But there is no end to this.
Throughout history we’ve chased and chased this mystery, trying to unravel it. We travel to the moon, blast open the tiniest atoms, kill and love each other through the myriad dramas at humanity’s disposal.
And still, the question remains.. burning inside of us.
The difficulty here isn’t in relation to the answer, it is that the question is flawed from the start. “We” are that which we are seeking to understand. In order to know something, there has to be separation, a subject and an object. There has to be the one who “knows”, and the thing that is “known”. But neither one exists, in the final analysis. The subject and object are continually in motion, they are relative entities that rise up from and return to the infinite ocean of the absolute – or Tao, or God, or space, or whatsoever word feels good for you to use.
So this tool of the mind, of discerning one thing from another, of trying to understand and make sense of the world – is only useful up to a point. And we have more than sufficiently reached that point. The difficulty we have now is we are trying with everything we have to know life to a certainty – to reduce it to one comfortable, secure little fact that everyone can agree on.
This is impossible. Not because god is an asshole, but because this unrelenting search of ours doesn’t make any sense. It is a dog chasing its own tail. Unfortunately, we have been chasing it for so long – insisting that some final truth or happiness is right around the corner – that we are too embarrassed to stop. We’ve got too much pride in what we think we know, and it hurts to let go of that.
But the entirety of spirituality, meditation, and true religion boils down to one thing – letting go. And it only hurts for the simple reason that we have got so much invested in this game we are playing. The trick is to understand the mechanics of this whole game and see it through until the mind lets go, which it inevitably will. The trick is not minding that it hurts, as Lawrence so poetically put it:
And it’s going to hurt, as we collectively come to embrace the inevitability of the truth – the truth that life is not so simple (or complex) as we are trying to make it. This is going to play out a bit chaotically in the short term by my estimation, but will pave the way to a much more sustainable, prosperous, and peaceful mode of living down the road, something I hope to get to in my next post.