The Museum and the Mystery

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Einstein

There are two ‘ways of being’ which seem to be polar opposites.

The Museum is all about BEING: fixed objects and concepts, already perfect, old, lifeless, preserved, known and understood, well-ordered, which cannot be touched and whose development is finished. Recall your past visits to museums: a collection of works of art displayed for all to see, projecting their message in a one-way communication to the audience. Beautiful, yes, but apart from few exceptions there is no interaction between subject and object, and the division is clear: the work is there, finished and untouchable, and there is nothing you can add to it. With the Museum you always know what you’re going to get because it is all out in the open. It is what Robert Pirsig might call ‘static quality’.

The Mystery is all about BECOMING: nebulous ideas and sensations, creations in the process of development, moving, dynamic, alive, uncertain, full of life and curiosity. With the Mystery you never know what you’ll get, because you are a participant in the birth of something new which is as yet undefined and still taking shape. It is never finished, never perfect, and always has room to grow, evolve and change. It cannot be defined, captured or preserved, for once a part of it is, it dies and goes into the Museum. The Mystery eludes our grasp. It is what Pirsig might call ‘dynamic quality’.

The Museum is what you get when ego tries to put a name on God’s creation, and there are countless names we have given to that which cannot be named. The Museum is humankind’s attempt to comprehend the Mystery, which is the inherent possibility of unlimited creation, forever enigmatic.

Time and Projection

In many ways our daily life can become like the Museum: stale and lifeless. The question is: how and why does it get this way? I think it is due to the old demons: fear and desire. Fear of hurt, uncertainty, and loss – particularly loss of control – and a desire to know and control the future. You see, in our everyday human understanding of the world, control and knowledge are the same thing. You cannot control something without first knowing what it is and how it works. Likewise, you cannot fully know about something unless you are able to predict its future movement, which requires control.

The future cannot be known in present terms. It is by definition unknown, since it has not happened yet. Rather than letting that be the case, we project our past experiences onto the future, to ‘make it known’ in a certain way. In this manner we filter the new fresh information that comes into our world according to the patterns and beliefs of yesterday, many of which are self-limiting and keep us stuck in repetitive cycles.

To truly encounter the unknown with fresh eyes and an open mind and heart is exciting but terrifying because it requires surrender and defenselessness. The ego looks into the abyss and recoils in fear. Not wanting to meet its own death, it tries to know and control everything it perceives by turning it into a copy of itself. It wants to make other people more like itself – which incidentally is the source of all war and conflict – and it wants the future to resemble the past, only healed and made whole. Our whole life is spent trying to be at peace, be whole, and be free of all external forms of control, and the way we try to do this is by placing the body, the ego’s champion, at the summit and making all of time and space subservient to it. Incidentally, this is also the recipe for unhappiness, because the ego cannot become whole. Instead of becoming a life of unlimited freedom, joy and power, it becomes a self-created nightmarish Groundhog Day, a dead-end loop which we cannot escape, without excitement or joy, with dreary sameness and suffocating regularity. Whether a particular substance is involved or not, we all become addicts to the empty promises of the ego mind, unable to find happiness from sensory stimulation and clueless as to where we should go or what we should do to make things better. By trying to run our own lives, we become prisoners to them. By trying to free ourselves from bondage – political, economic, religious or otherwise – we bind ourselves by our own devices.

Most fear is of a singular type: fear of the unknown, and therefore fear of loss of control. We fear that if the ego loses control, if we surrender, then another being will come to control us – the false authority, the tyrant, the dictator, the oppressor. We may lose our money, our health, our relationships, our posessions or even our lives. This is what makes us paranoid, what makes us cling to whatever limited control we have managed to secure. It is also what makes us translate all sensory information in terms of our prexisting story, our script, so that the world makes sense and we get to keep our knowledge and a certain degree of control.

Encountering the truly unknown, the truly novel, is what we fear most, yet deep down there is something inside us that craves it because instinctively we are tired of repeating our script and want to break out of it and see the world anew. Knowledge and control turns everything dull and lifeless and sucks the joy and excitement out of life. Our economic system (here in the West) is based on projecting systems and plans into the future; in essence, controlling both space and time. Projection is necessary if you would control the materal resources of the planet, but it is not going to deliver us what we are really looking for.

How to make this moment new again

The only way to enter the dimension of enchantment and wonder is to make your life a mystery, even to yourself. This applies especially to relationships. Attraction between couples tends to fade over time because people don’t change, thus there is no ‘new information’ and the mystery is gone. If you stop recycling, reliving, re-projecting the past onto the future, and let yourself be open, fresh, unburdened and present in every moment, life will once again become a mystery to you and others around you.

Let go of your knowledge and control, sit back and enjoy the show. After all, this is God’s universe, his show, and we are the audience, not the director. By tampering with the story we only bring ugliness and suffering onto the stage. God’s plan for us is revealed once we allow it in and get ego out of the way. We are not the true creators; we are the witensses to creation. To see the real show, we need to create space, which is done through forgiveness of the past and faith in the future. In other words: no grievances, grudges or resentments, and no fixed plans or beliefs. Let it all come, and let it all go.

Think about it: in your life, you have changed opinions, beliefs and life trajectories (probably many times) upon discovering new information. You would not look back now at your younger self and say that you were wrong or stupid, would you? You were trying your best, yet clearly you had more to learn and this applies equally to your present situation. Just as you thought you knew what was best and true but did not, also now you think you know what is best and true but do not. All this is perfectly fine. Not only do you not know what’s best, you cannot know. All human perspectives are limited in space-time, by our nature, and it is not our job to know it all and fix it all, only to observe it all and learn to love it as it is.

Embrace the mystery by creating “the three spaces”:

  1. Forgive the past (memories, grudges, feelings of guilt and shame, self-judgement and blame, karma)
  2. Trust in the present (everything is perfect just the way it is – you don’t have to do anything to make things ok)
  3. Surrender the future (give up all hope of finding lasting happiness through worldly pursuits, give up your schemes, scripts and plans and trust in the master plan of the universe)

The ego cannot bring about its own demise. Only God can free us from the nightmare. Only God knows what the show is all about and where we are headed. The hardest thing to do is to give up control, completely and without condition, and let God take over your life, yet it is the only way out. There is no way to break free on your own – the enemy always rises again in a different form and cannot be defeated. Spiritual emancipation through control over the material world (such as a Marxist utopia) will not work. There is something to look forward to: embracing the Mystery leads to a re-enchantment of our world. Places and moments become curious creatures that come to play with us, rather than objects to be manipulated for gain.

Faith

The universe has a grand plan, one that is wider, deeper, more subtle, intricate and complex than I could ever understand within my own context, my own vantage point in space-time. Thus I recognize that there will always be some things I cannot understand, and that is ok – I accept it. As for events and experiences that await me in the future, I will not always be able to see, understand, or control them before they happen, and that is ok too – I accept it. I am part of something much larger, deeper and more complex than I can ever comprehend, and I have a role to play in the unfolding of the story. It is the purpose of my life to discover my role and grow into it, to play my part. I will do the best I can in every situation that presents itself, and the rest I leave to Spirit. I look forward to the unknown twists and turns that await me. I anticipate the next chapter in the story with wonder, excitement and awe.

This is my faith.

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~ by spiritualseeker1 on June 27, 2013.

4 Responses to “The Museum and the Mystery”

  1. Ich! Sorry, I cannot relate to your language here. “Being” is a verb, and as such, it is active. “Being” is a word that some use synonymously with the word “God.” “Being” is alive. To me, a more precise word for your museum analogy is “been” or “was.”

    “Being” and “Becoming” are NOT opposites! They are the same. To my way of seeing, the opposite (AND complement!) of “being” is “doing.”

    The masculine energy, yang, is all about doing.

    The feminine energy, yin, is all about being.

    I believe that even in “dead” objects, there is life.

    I also disagree that objects in a museum offer one-way communication OR that they are dead or untouchable. Museum pieces (even big ones) are puzzle pieces, tiny fragments of a whole, alive with stories and with spirit. Museum pieces *do* communicate to their audience — if the audience is open and receptive to such communication.

    “With the Museum you always know what you’re going to get because it is all out in the open.” You have never been to the museum with me. 😉

    I cannot fathom going to a museum believing that I know what I’m going to get. I cannot fathom leaving a museum believing that I know what I saw.

    To my way of seeing and perceiving life, objects in a museum ARE a mystery! If you let them, objects in a museum are invitations to explore the great mystery behind them.

    “The Museum is what you get when ego tries to put a name on God’s creation…” That is not my experience. The museum can open one’s eyes to the realization that God’s creation has been unfolding forever, and it will continue to unfold WITH OR WITHOUT ME. Keen awareness at a museum can work wonders at humbling the ego.

    Pardon me for rambling. I do agree that daily life can become (or seem) stale and lifeless. But in museums, I am a fascinated & curious child in the body of a 50 yr old. And that’s why I say I cannot relate to your language or imagery here.

  2. P.S. I posted that a little too soon. I’d like to add that this is, of course, just my response, my point of view. I don’t mean to suggest you are “wrong.” No right or wrong here. Just, you know, walking along & sharing. Blessings to you.

    • You raise some good points. In retrospect I think that “being” is a poor choice of term, because it is often used to refer to the unchanging infinity, Spirit, God, etc. What I was trying to refer to by “the Museum” is more a specific, limited, static pattern of being, such as the body of wisdom found in empirical science or established social norms. It is more of a mental concept than a physical entity, and it is these fixed mental conceptions of the world that we project onto the future, thereby limiting our range of thought and options for allowing “becoming” to take place. When social norms and collective beliefs are questioned or undermined, such as with feminist, marxist or social justice movements, or the developments of quantum physics or psychoanalysis in the early 20th century, there is always a backlash from the established patterns whose ideas often do not adequately explain the ‘new data’. These new perspectives eventually become the new fixed patterns by which our minds and therefore society is organized. What I am suggesting is the possibility of having no beliefs at all – or as few as necessary for practical purposes – only observations about how things work, which remain always open to doubt, without emotional attachment or resistance.

  3. Fine way of describing, and good piece of writing to get
    facts on the topic of my presentation subject, which i am going to deliver in college.

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