Wide Open Windows

The story, so far ...

Digging for ever

Life strikes me as a voyage of discovery. And discovery in the double sense of the word: discovery in the form of 'finding out', but also as uncovering, dis-covering. In fact, I have never outgrown the sandbox of kindergarten, because what is there under all that sand?

Recently I wrote the following on Facebook. It concerns a reply to a relative who subscribes to the Christian creed, during a discussion about the (im)possibility of being convinced of something with certainty:

"I can't rest on faith, conviction or any philosophical or ideological system. Not only because there are so many known beliefs and ideologies. Even if there were only one conviction, I would not be able to resign myself to it. Because, in my experience at least, conviction is always accompanied by doubt; two sides of the same coin. I have tried to find peace in provable knowledge, but I have not found it there either, because not everything can be known or proven. The human mind is, in my opinion, incapable of providing answers to ultimate questions...

To me, the universe, existence, is unfathomable, a great and infinite mystery that is totally and for ever beyond human comprehension. Every anthropocentric characterisation of this life, this existence, like 'Love' or 'Consciousness' or 'Nature', makes the universe, makes life itself, small; a stupid, bloodless lie. Better to shut up.

"The rage for wanting to conclude is one of the most deadly and most fruitless manias to befall humanity. Each religion and each philosophy has pretended to have God to itself, to measure the infinite, and to know the recipe for happiness. What arrogance and what nonsense! I see, to the contrary, that the greatest geniuses and the greatest works have never concluded."

Gustave Flaubert, quoted in R. Saltzman, The Ten Thousand Things, 2017

I have been seeking knowledge, and especially 'ultimate' knowledge for most of my life. That always felt as the ground and motivation of my being. But I am finding out there is a limit to human knowledge. We can never step out of our mind (whatever that is!) and know the origin and meaning of life, death and the universe. I am learning to live with this simple fact and enjoy the wide open windows of not-knowing.

The only thing I really do know is the experience I am having at this very moment. I can not be absolutely sure of the contents of that experience, but the fact that I am experiencing cannot be denied by me. What experiencing itself is I cannot know, I can only live it. In fact 'experiencing' and 'knowing' are two words for the same happening, whatever it is.

“And THIS is it. As simple as that. And I don't have to do anything for it to happen. Nor can I do anything about it. I find the world, this life, ready and waiting. The clock ticks above the mantelpiece. I watch my hands typing keys. Sometimes the hands wait a moment and then continue. Oops, spelling mistake. Tick, tick, tick.”

I have come to the point where I can find peace in the knowledge that I do not know and never will. No problem. I have no answers and I don't need to. The mystery of life overwhelms me and can move me to tears. To lock up this mystery in some 'answer', some belief, feels cruel, lifeless and above all ungrateful.

The fact that I can really only know this experiencing does not mean that relative knowledge is not possible, or otherwise (normal) life would be insuperably difficult. Common sense, the scientific method and logical reasoning do produce results and make sense most of the time. What is not making much sense, at least to me, is speculation; especially philosophical or spiritual speculation. At the most it can be entertainment, not truth. 'Life after death' or 'Universal Consciousness' - nobody knows or can know if these are real or not, whatever they tell me. I can choose to belief these things. But belief is not knowledge, not even 'relative' knowledge, which makes these propositions completely irrelevant. In other words: who cares?

Anyway, I am not a teacher, I am not different from anybody else, I do not have any 'special' knowledge and I am definitely not 'enlightened' (just ask my partner Asti, she knows). I sometimes feel clueless, delusional and depressed or lonely, bored or angry, but that's just what happens. But whatever happens is in fact always interesting. Noticing what happens and noticing that I am noticing, I am awake and present.

I do not know what is under the sand. In fact, I don't even know what the sandbox itself is, nor what is in it or where it came from. I only know that the sandpit is there and that I am in the middle of it.

A single flower, the cheerful hopping around of our dog Angie, the sound of the rain, the starry sky, even the pain in my back, tell me infinitely more and make every sense of doubt melt away. Living in this moment is all I really really know and ever can know.