Opening to the mystery
Human beings are not the fastest, strongest or largest of the animals, but it seems that our enhanced brain capacities have helped make us the dominant animal on the block.
Wanting to know has kept us doggedly persevering in our survival skills, as knowledge accumulated over generations, especially in sophisticated ways cultivated by the discipline of science, gave us that competitive edge.
As part of that edge, we might note that today’s problems and weapons rival anything of former ages. And might it not be that our accumulated knowledge has its limitations and can even stifle another dimension of human resilience?
I would like to suggest that the spiritual dimension, which could be considered to be the higher octave of knowing, helps counteract that dimension of having to figure life out through reason. In Christianity, for all the dogmas put forth by competing churches, each holding to its niche of knowing, we have the teaching that becoming like a little child is correlated with, even necessary for, entering the kingdom of heaven.
On one level, dropping out of the head helps open up a space of a deeper intuitive knowing. On another level, opening up before the mystery of being, the mystery of the coincidence of opposites that transcends the mind’s dualistic and problem-solving reasoning skills, helps us surrender on a deep level and find “the peace that passeth understanding.”
For example, in the midst of the stress of a world that seems overburdened by challenges, on a collective level and sometimes on a personal level as well, we might feel tempted to stand on our soapbox and give god (or whatever “higher power” we might want to address) a well-reasoned argument about all that’s wrong. And yet in the midst of that, can we take a breath and let ourselves be touched by the power of being or presence, and open to the inherent perfection of the present moment? This is not the cop-out of irresponsibility that the well-honed rational mind might judge, but rather an opening to a wider horizon of awareness.
Standing before the mystery, even recognizing the very mystery within our very depths, can bring forth a deeper peace, as well as the qualities of humility and innocence. Of course, as the responsible and reasonable adults we might want to be in the “age of enlightenment” on the Western model, becoming like a little child might seem like a regression, a pathology. But in the new “age of enlightenment” that is emerging beyond the age of individualism, rationalism and scientism, we might well make room for a higher octave. Without denying the relative truth and benefits of all those values, we can also make room for a higher realm that is not pathologized as regression (to an age of superstition or of childhood). Now we might regard the responsible and enlightened adult as one who doesn’t have to fall into such dualistic mindsets.
In the face of less than optimal adult behavior, we can still hold a compassionate heart and affirm the inherent innocence of each one. And before the encounter with the mystery even in the midst of the ordinary with all its limitations and imperfections, we can still hold an open mind of humility. In fact, in the midst of today’s stresses and challenges, this might not be a luxury for the enlightened elites but good medicine for body and soul.
What does it take to open to such dimensions? Does it take a crisis of dimensions that overwhelm us, or can we grow into it as a natural extension of higher levels of human development and wellness? Can we respond to the inner call of the presence of even the ordinary moment, and find the deeply compassionate and grace-filled medicine we need? That is very much up to us and our inner willingness, openness and attitude of gratitude. May it be so in your inner world, where that “little child” abides eternally, regardless of the many layers of adult conditioning that have been applied in order to secure your social standing and affluence in a fast-paced and competitive world. May it be so.
Beginning in October, Ed Hirsch will offer a free weekly presence gathering at the Ashland library, Guanajuato Room, from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays. There will be deepening into presence with music and time for personal reflection with Q & A. For more information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan email@example.com.