Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Knowing life, intimately

I was in a discussion yesterday were one of my best friends asked me how we can know the unknown.

He was speaking of knowing in terms of an encounter the transcendental; an encounter with that which lies beyond us, the eternity that Meister Eckhart calls us to, the place beyond our own Being which is referred to words like stillness. If it is unknowable, he asked me, how can we know if we have encountered it?

This is a serious question. The moment we encounter something, don't we know it? And if so, hasn't it at once entered the realm of the known?

The unknown is, in itself, eternally manifest — and it is eternally still, but it's stillness is not a stillness of the word stillness. Already, it's stillness is unknown, and even though it manifests, it represents the unmanifested.

 In this way, stillness arrives, but it is nothing more than a messenger: a representative. There is a stillness that lies beyond stillness, and it is perpetually manifest. When stillness comes, when the unknown arrives, it is always nothing more than a representative of the unknown; and thus, the unknown always manages to hide itself behind the veil of what I know. I can see its shadow; and that's all.

I can know, in my encounter with the stillness — which exists alongside and in conjunction with everything that is ordinary and active in life — the shadow of this unknown; and as I know it, through my sensation and my feeling (for the mind cannot know this unknown in the way that sensation and feeling can know it) I know that my rational Being can never explain this stillness or the way that it is the force of life itself.

In this way, I can know life, which is the shadow and the representation of the unknown, but not the unknown itself. And the more intimately I know life, the more certain I am that it springs from the unknown source, from God. This is a living truth, one that penetrates the whole body and all of life without leaving a single iota untouched. And this is the beginning of Being, the location where I am, and know nothing more.

I think it's possible to play a lot of word games with the contradiction of the known and the unknown, but there are no word games in the sensing of the truth of life and the feeling of the truth of life, each of which moves into realms of the mind and the unknown which can't be analyzed or picked apart. There is no greater force or greater love than an encounter with this truth, which penetrates all of Being and at once of itself conveys the mystery of the unknown, which I stand forever in front of.

 Real Grace always calls me to the unknown, directly, and without any form to explain itself. It simply is; and it needs no mediation through what can be explained.

To me, there is never anything indifferent or impersonal about this encounter. It is different and personal; yet what it is different than is me, and the personal that it has is not mine.

 Nothing can better convey my own helplessness and the way that I do not know. That's how I meet the unknown; it is always and exclusively not in what I know and can discriminate about, but the place where my discrimination itself fails.

In these places and these times, I stand on a threshold I cannot cross over; and this is the place where I know I have encountered the unknown.


1 comment:

  1. strange I just wrote this to someone:
    I remember you writing to me 15yrs ago about the divine project being masked by the physical 'laws' or nature appearing to have no purpose or design, blindly indifferent to us - our ignorance of a divine project as a condition of our freedom to choose what we respect. I have been writing a little and wonder what you would say about those 'scientists' who claim that the earth is remarkably fit for life - as if it had been 'designed' for it (intelligent design, anthropic princple etc). And there are many who would say God's wishes are revealed in the scriptures......and we can know him enough to know what he the claim that the creator is hidden doesn't seem to work that well after all. And we do know what it wants of us.'


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