I read about an interesting distinction earlier today – that the current western civilization seeks to explain life rather than experience life.
It came up in a comparison of Christianity to Tribal Religions, but as I sit and reflect on it, I remember a very similar distinction made by Dostoevsky in his short story called The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. It concludes the novella with the realization that the knowledge of happiness has become more important to man than happiness itself. The protagonist realizes that this is what he is here to fight against. That revelation has given meaning to his life.
And so as I sit here contemplating this idea I wonder about the implications this has on the mind of the modern man.
I think of some peers who are obsessed with technology and the advancement of science. I am not so bold as to claim that there is something inherently wrong with that, but I also understand how the reverence for the inorganic has potentially stolen divinity from humanity.
What kind of a world is it where we value the inventions of our species more than the environment/ecosystem/planet that birthed our species?
The notion of the unspeakable and unthinkable has often inspired me to deep reflections. The question of what lies before the mentation. What precedes the voice in my head, the idea of me.
I have come to realize the beauty of not knowing. There is a different function of my mind which brings me great delight. There is not a need to ‘know’ everything. I have found incredible comfort in the idea, arguably lived experience of emptiness.
Emptiness which precedes the material. As an idea, it inspires a feeling in the body and a rest in the mind. It is not an effort to encapsulate, but a willingness to dwell within the boundless.
How can one contain the uncontainable?
I hold great reverence for a truth which cannot be spoken. For the experience which can only become diluted when words try to explain it.
Language, an invention of our species, seems inadequate to truly define the species.
There is an awe that one feels when they can let go of the need to know, and allow the unspeakable truth to wash over them.
Does this make all words meaningless? What reason is there to speak if the ultimate truth is beyond words? I’m not sure that I have a final answer on that. But I will think out loud here:
Firstly, not all words are aimed at explaining the ultimate. There are many purposes which words do serve. I think language is one of our greatest creations that makes life that much more beautiful and meaningful. Not only communication, but evocation. Words are expressions of the soul.
But, that does not mean they are capable of expressing everything.
I am an advocate for the ineffable. Words can point in the direction. But words cannot explain the experience. It must come first hand.
The irony is of course that I cannot prove to you that such a state exists. It requires the personal experience. As soon as words come into play they begin to degrade the actuality.
So here is where I stand, not wanting to obliterate language, but rather acknowledge that there is that which lies beyond.
Take some time to feel into your experience. Even before your mind starts to try to tell you what you are experiencing, just feel into it.
Let it be wordless, for as long as you can.
With awe I stare out over the bay with wonder. I breathe in the air and listen to the birds. Knowing that they are all part of the grand opera, and in a fashion that I cannot fully fathom, I am compelled to let them be.
It is so tempting to make claims. To understand why each piece functions in the way it does. To understand how it serves the whole. This is the mind of the scientist. Looking for proofs. Trying to know beyond doubt. But there are things that just cannot be known. And I am comfortable living in that state.
I close my eyes and feel. Not needing to know or prove, but experience the contentment of existence.
We live on a floating orb in a universe of unimaginable complexity. If we need to prove something scientifically for it to be true, we will never experience the fullness of life.
I am joyed to dwell in a universe that I don’t have all the answers for. I feel into the uncertainty, the mystery. I bow down to the unspeakable truths which I will never know.