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To live in intimacy with the sacred mystery

Check in with yourself, with a clear and nonjudgmental honesty, how deeply you have a sense of intimacy with all of life, a living sense of the sacred, and a deep connection with the mystery of being.

These three principles — intimacy, the sacred, and the mystery — characterize the antidote to the common malaise of our times, which is the fallout of the modern mechanistic, materialistic and secular culture that has impacted all of us. It is not merely a return to traditional ways but rather the essence of what we can see emerging as a new spirituality in our times.

In the usual world we know, we tend to relate to ourselves and others as personalities, as characters in the drama of our lives, in a profane, quantified, secular world without the sacred and often even without the natural, where intimacy is something we try to get and even hoard in a loveless world and mystery is something to be vanquished by the scientific enterprise of knowledge.

And where even science has largely become scientism, a materialistic dogma, an arrogant reaction to what is perceived as the superstitions of an earlier age, and a business of technocratic control that serves power rather than humanity.

The early childlike sense of the world as mystery, where everything is fresh and new, soon enough gives way to the adult immaturity of egoic control and social and political conformity, in an immature culture that doesn’t serve the spirit or even acknowledge it. We’re talking about restoring the childlike on its higher octave — as intimacy with the sacred mystery.

To restore that, we would have to set aside the carefully constructed and highly symbolic and abstracted “consensus reality” that largely constitutes the world of adults. Then we might be able to peer into the awesome mystery that we call life, world, reality. We might have to be willing to let go of the illusion that we know all the things we think we know. This might involve an awakening out of the trance of knowing, the lens through which we as subjects experience objects.

In order to open to unknowing beyond a merely abstract exercise, we might need a systematic deconstruction of such basics as space, time, mind and perhaps especially the self. Who or what is this “I” that can never experience itself, since any content of experience is object to the “I” as subject or witness? Name and form cannot touch the depth of our real nature, at the center of which is being itself.

When we recognize that we live, move and have our being in a profound mystery, that sense of mystery becomes more than just an agnostic not knowing. It is a shedding of the old skin of dualistic knowing that opens into the sacred mystery. Traditional words such as spirit, divinity or god can serve as pointers, beyond any box of doctrines.

A core sense of the mystery lies in the intuition of primary oneness. This means that transcendence transcends any separation from the experience of form, even this very experience right now. Transcendence does not suffer separation anxiety, and neither does awakened form.

Intimacy with the sacred mystery expresses our intimate oneness with it. We are not separate from that, just as the finite cannot be separate from the infinite. More than that, it involves all our natural faculties intimately engaging in the mystery. For example, ordinary natural experience sensing our bodies, breathing air, feeling feelings, hearing sounds or seeing the visible world, can become ways of sensing, breathing, feeling, hearing and seeing the mystery. We are living the mystery, and the mystery is living us and living through us.

It is not really something that can be explained, but we can experience it. It is not a religion, because it is beyond all doctrines and systems. It is not some special attainment of “enlightenment,” but something we can open to within so-called ordinary experience and daily living. It is not some extraordinary peak experience, but neither is it merely the ordinary grind. It is intimately coming home to our true nature, the sacred mystery ever unfolding.

The current COVID-19 virus prevents the library meditation group from meeting, but thankfully not from our individual practice of meditation. I encourage everyone to continue their practice in the spirit of a global human family.

Contact Ed Hirsch at presenceofone@yahoo.com. Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com.