Living the Mystery
Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard was fond of saying that we are here to live the mystery, not to solve it. Contemporary spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra is fond of referring to this.
There are two ways of going about it. One is to plunge into mainstream American cultural existence or as one student recently said to me when asked what was his goal in life: “make money.” This approach basically narcotizes us against accessing anything of depth and mystery. It may be of some value but it exists on a superficial plane. Those who pursue it are likely to say “What mystery?” “There’s a mystery?” J. K. Rowling has immortalized this approach with the name “Muggles” in her amazing Harry Potter series which is for kids on one level but on another is very adult. Basically this approach is not reflective enough to wonder about either solving or living the mystery.
The other approach is to pursue intimacy with Mystery. It requires being over against mainstream culture because it means spending time in contemplation. The purpose of this is not to solve the great mystery of life but to be rooted in it. The result of this is an ever expanding capacity to love and to incarnate the virtues. It is also the path of ever expanding consciousness. It leads to peaceful openness to newness and to whatever life may bring. It displaces the ego to a non central role in the psyche and so encourages humility. It engenders a sense of awe and a thirst to know. It respects the necessity of paying the bills but it is not preoccupied with such. It has little interest in proofs and is invited by the imagination. It is drawn to purposes higher than oneself. Unburdened of the furrowed brow of Solving Mind, it exists in peace in the present moment, yet, if summoned to action, it burns with passion.
There is also I think a middle way. The middle way is not obsessed with making money but it also does not pursue the evolution of the soul. It is content with its inherited cultural conditioning, and with the ethics, doctrines and rituals that were handed down to it. People here might describe themselves as “traditional.” They are usually good and generous but totally unaware of the treasures that lie within. Most often it seems that they prefer not to investigate or explore these realms. Accepting what they are told by authority figures seems to be their comfort zone. They are like wonderful guests at a slideshow but the slides are always from someone else’s trip. They themselves prefer to stay at home.
Maybe all three of these types are right where they are supposed to be for this lifetime.
Bill O’Brien is a Consciousness Coach here in Shepherdstown. His wife Linda is the Coordinator of Volunteers at SAIL. You can contact him by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.