Journey into the unknown

Why are humans always seeking certainty and guarantees? Why do investors and executives seek to have guaranteed stable earnings? Why do governments want consistent spending outcomes that match their budgetary forecasts? Why do we expect our partners and politicians to always behave in a predictable manner that serves our interests? Why do we try and control the thoughts and behaviours of other people? What drives the current trend towards ‘concrete economic gains’ above all other values?

In a word: fear. Fear of the unknown, amidst a world that is perceived to be hostile and fiercely competitive, where all trust has been lost. In this world, people do not trust what they cannot see or touch. In such a world people devalue attention paid to soft, vaguely defined concepts such as love, equality, compassion, fairness, peace and balance and instead fall prey to harsher drives for material survival, turning to any source which promises to offer these concrete results. We move away from “I want what is best for everyone in the long run” to “I want what is best for me now”. This is a short-sighted and narrow-minded point of view that will ultimately erode the very social foundations and human values upon which our world is built. This mindset will pave the way toward an Orwellian police state where everybody is on 24-hour lockdown, the government monitors our every move, and people live in suspicion and spy on their neighbours.

In a world of uncertainty, distrust and fear, people narrow their interest to what they can immediately perceive, things that can be described as concrete, objective, verifiable. We owe it to ourselves to consider the fact that many of the best things in life are not ‘concrete’ or guaranteed, such as love, friendship, happiness, joy, time, quality of experience, and enjoyment. Relatedly, in the field of health there are many forms of energy which are hard to detect objectively and scientifically but nevertheless exist, such as those cultivated through meditation, reiki, acupuncture, yoga, qigong, and so on. Many of us believe: “If I can’t touch it, it doesn’t exist”, and focus on physical objects; others believe “If I can’t sense or perceive it, it doesn’t exist”, and focus on sensory objects, while others think “If I can’t imagine it, it doesn’t exist”, and focus on mental objects. All of these are self-imposed limited viewpoints.

We tend to overvalue concrete, tangible things relative to intangible things. We tend to overvalue short-term, immediate things relative to long-term things. Finally, we tend to overvalue things that benefit us personally relative to things that serve the public good. This arises from what Einstein described as an ‘optical delusion of consciousness’:

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”

The conventional view is that we exist as a physical body, separated by time and space from other physical bodies. Hence we tend to value things that are in the sensory range of our own physical body and which contribute to the survival of that body more highly than things outside of our range of perception. This orientation of consciousness has harmful long-term social consequences since it reinforces self-serving behaviour at the expense of acts that benefit our collective growth and evolution. These beliefs can be very limiting by desensitizing the believer, making the detection of subtle energetic and spiritual realities which affect our world more difficult and less likely.

The ego mind wants to perceive and understand everything so that it can control everything. It is destabilized by things that it perceives are beyond its scope of understanding or beyond its control. Reason, while a useful tool for scientific research and inquiry, can also be a tool of the egoic, fearful mind. Reason has its limits, and the way to allow our consciousness to transcend those limits is through love, trust and faith. As Bill Hicks said: “The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.” Fear, reason, and the desire for concrete certainty are all devices of ego. The way out is through love, faith and surrender.

So what is to be done? I’m not a big fan of most organized religion, but we must be careful when tossing it out entirely. When you give up religion and do not replace it with any kind of spiritual practice, what do you lose (besides the dogmas, guilt, feelings of sin, etc.)? You lose the sense of wonder and enchantment with the world. Places, people and objects lose their magical touch and become dead objects. Also, you lose the humility of living under a higher power, and you become prone to hubris and narcissism. You begin to think that you can control everything, that you are in control of everything and all knowledge is potentially accessible to your mind. The truth is, it’s not. The truth is we need wonder and humility to keep us sane, healthy and balanced.

One thing I notice about humans is that despite all of the lip service we pay to science and dispassionate reason, we crave surprises, mystery, wonder and excitement. We love to anticipate future possibilities. We love encountering things that are new, things that we have never known or experienced. If we didn’t, nobody would ever take risks by engaging in activities such as mountain climbing, extreme sports, amusement parks, and so on. We would also not spend very much time or money on art, music, theatre, or travelling. Proceeding to take part in an activity which we ourselves have planned, and to which we know the outcome, is very boring, yet when fear rules our mind, we do these things because they are safe and predictable. You need a certain strength of character, an unconditional confidence in your own capacity to respond to anything that comes your way, in order to invite true adventure, a true journey into the unknown.

Ours is a society that bases itself on an ever greater expansion of knowledge acquired, at least in principle, through observation, filtered by reason. How and why could there be value in “not knowing”? The universe has a grand plan, one that is wider, deeper, more subtle, intricate and complex than each of us can ever understand within our own individual context, our own vantage point in space-time. Thus there will always be some things we cannot understand, and that is ok – we need only accept them. As for events and experiences that await us in the future, we will not always be able to see, understand, or control them before they happen, and that is ok too. We each have a role to play in the unfolding of the story. It is the purpose of life to discover our role and grow into it, to play our part. We need only do the best we can in every situation that presents itself. We should look forward to the unknown twists and turns that await us, and anticipate the next chapter in the story with wonder, excitement and awe. This is what I mean by faith.

 

The need to always know the outcome of a situation before it happens

The need for guarantees, certainty, complete safety, full knowledge and understanding

The need to control everything, own everything, mark one’s territory and erect boundaries, borders and walls

The need to resolve all tensions, eliminate any mystery and wonder, and have everything ‘set in stone’, or ‘nailed down’

These are all products of a mind living in fear

These are symptoms of feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, weakness

These are not the actions of a courageous and strong heart

These are not the actions of someone who has an unconditional sense of his own worth and power

These are not the actions of someone who knows that he is capable of handling anything that comes along

Someone with an unconditional sense of worth and a courageous heart does not need to know everything

He does not need to control or own everything

He welcomes the unfolding reality as it comes, accepts what he sees, and acts as necessary

He cradles mystery, wonder and imagination as precious gifts, not to be resolved but only held and beheld

He is more interested in the questions than the answers

He knows he is ok, no matter what

His identity is not dependent on what happens to him

His identity is “I AM”

 

When all of our plans and schemes have left us wanting, when all the roads of ego have been found to be dead ends, there is no other option but to give up, to accept ego death, and surrender your will and heart to a higher power, a power which is larger than you, knows infinitely more than you, and reveals secrets and mysteries which the ego in its grasping cannot discover.

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~ by spiritualseeker1 on February 16, 2012.

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