Life’s Mystery

Photograph © 2014 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2014 Peggy Kornegger
Some Native Americans use the term “The Great Mystery” to refer to the concept of God or Source energy. It’s such a wonderful usage because within it, humans step back and allow the unknown to be just that—unknown. Many religions spell out the specific attributes of God, the heavenly realm, and its relation to living beings on Earth, including sets of rigid moral codes, laws, and commandments. How much more open-ended is the idea of a mystery that we will never understand with the human mind? Our hearts can experience God or the Divine, but we cannot solve the enigma of existence. Perhaps the greatest wisdom lies in acknowledging that and allowing the Mystery to live within and through us without trying to understand it.

Many wise spiritual teachers and sages, past and present, have expressed this in their work. In his book Emptiness Dancing, Zen Buddhist teacher Adyashanti writes, “There is a very alive, awake, and loving mystery, and that’s what is seeing through your eyes at this moment.” To live in alignment with this mystery involves dissolving identification with thoughts and ideas; then awareness flows freely without conceptual distortion. Buddha mind. Baby mind. The innocent eye. At the beginning of life, we see the world this way—pure perception with no distorting language filters. Toward the end of our lives, words and memories may begin to fall away as we prepare to return to the oneness of pure divine consciousness, in which human language plays no part. In the middle years, we struggle to understand the seeming contradictions and unfairness of life—and the inevitability of death.

Not all of us are driven to figure out the meaning of life and death. I am one of those who has always tried to do so, from early childhood on. Only in recent years have I found my spiritual journey less burdened by inquiry and more open to possibility. This past summer, in particular, I began to let go into “not knowing.” This came out of a weeklong program with Panache Desai in which he challenged me to drop my questions and live from a place of experiencing instead of trying to understand everything. For someone who has perpetually had cosmic questions spinning around in her head, this was indeed difficult, even painful. Finally, though, in the weeks after the program, something in me opened to not knowing as the most peaceful way to go through my daily life. Basically, I surrendered to the Mystery.

I have surrendered in the past, of course, but there are layers to letting go, and humans are never finished with it. We have to keep being reminded, again and again: Relax your fingers; stop clutching. Relax the mind; stop questing. The wider, higher perspective opens up when we allow everything to unfold with awe and wonderment instead of “What’s going on? Why is this happening? How can I change it?” The “control” trap keeps us stuck on a hamster wheel of trying/failing/trying again. Ultimately, surrendering to mystery may be the wisest and least painful path to take in life. Human existence can be miraculous or a curse. We can suffer or we can celebrate. Celebration involves embracing everything, the sadness as well as the joy. We don’t know the meaning or the outcome, but we can fully experience every incredible moment of the journey.

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