Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | January 10, 2011

Not Knowing

Maybe I obsess over it too much, maybe I’m just a philosopher at heart, maybe I should be a little or a lot more taoist about it and leave some things to the after life, but I am somewhat consumed by the question, who are we, where did we come from, and what is our place in the universe.

The other night after work, on the walk from parking the car to the apartment, I had a small insight: what if the fact that we do not know is a clear indication that there must be something, a bigger answer beyond our comprehension. In the things we do here on earth, for the most part, we know the parameters, we know the rules of the game, and we know the history, the beginnings, the source of it all. I do not sell shoes in a vacuum. I am not in a store practicing my craft wondering if there is an owner of the store, if there is some shoe god running things, if they money I deposit at the end of the night is a sacrifice to the gods or is a seed I am sowing for some future karmic reward. I know who the corporation is, I know where the money is going, I know what is expected of me. And within these parameters, I am able to practice what I do and do it well with honor and integrity.

If I play a board game like monopoly or chess, I know the rules of the game, I know I’m the “god” making the moves and the decisions, and there is no esoteric or mystical explanation necessary. If the pieces were alive, if the extent of their consciousness was the board itself and they did not have a knowledge of what was above or beyond them, they would go through “life,” landing on boardwalk, passing go and collecting $200, or advancing towards the enemy’s king, and if they were philosophers, they would ask, who is the hand behind it all. Or, having no hope of knowing or understanding, they would either cease asking, or try to come up with some answers.

The human experience over the centuries has been one of spiritual intuition and experiential revelation. When we practice certain spiritual techniques, we begin to “know” in our hearts that there is a Source of all things, that we are an image or manifestation of something, that we reflect “God.” The Catholic Church teaches that through revelation, we have been given the answer: We are created in the image and likeness of God, we live in a fallen state, and we can return to the Father through the Son. God reveals himself through the Word, through his Son becoming man, through the teachings of the magesterium, through revelatory experiences.

I have been attending mass regularly lately in order to place myself in the presence of the Holy Spirit and the mystical body of Christ. I am still plagued by the idea that Christianity is either true or the biggest hoax on humanity for 2,000 years.

I practice tai chi and chi kung and seated meditation and contemplation to place myself or to become aware of the presence of the divine, of the numenous. When I am in regular practice, I can confidently tell you of the truth of the divine, of holiness, and of the point of spiritual development and progress. For me, it is anecdotal proof of God.

But, I must also admit to not knowing. I do not know. I have not had the ultimate truth of our existence revealed to me. For all I know, we could have been seeded here by aliens, or had our DNA changed to become human, or have relatives who are human out there in the universe somewhere. Angels may exist or they may be literary devices. God may or may not have told us not to eat fruit from a tree, and Jesus Christ may or may not be the Savior of the world. Even Mother Theresa, and most of the great Saints have experienced years of spiritual dryness, of not knowing, of running on the fumes of faith.

At least I know that I do not know. I must pursue the contemplative life to get some glimpse of the reality of our existence. I look for God to speak and to reveal himself through various means.

At the least, I assert the holiness of each of our individualities and persons. I was watching a documentary on Benedictines, and was unhappy with one aspect–that the postulant gives up all sense of self and desire and vows total obedience to the Abbot. If a person has a penchant or talent for something, he is not allowed to practice it, at least for a while, in order to ensure that he is dedicating himself to the monastic purpose. I understand why this is necessary, but other spiritual traditions teach a dying to self and sort of melding into the “oneness” of things. My practice of tai chi has helped me to understand, through wu wei, not doing, that the point here is not giving in to the desires of the ego–doing those things of the ego like being selfish, hating others, getting angry. So, for me, the death to self is not a death to my individual self and who I am, but to the egotistical self, the worldly or secular self. But there is still a self.

I assert that I am created in total individuality, as an individual and unique expression(Paramahansa Yogananda expresses this thought in his autobiography), of the divine. And I should look to see this in others as well, that they are a unique and individual expression of the divine with the purpose of expressing some aspect of the divine. What aspect of the divine am I here to express? Others? I am not here to lose myself into nothingness. I am here to fully become who I am, as you are here to fully become who you are.

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