Chapter 6: Beyond Knowledge

Down the Rabbit HoleA metaphorical reading of the Message of Jesus points to a perception or a state of mind or experience, which has several specific and universal characteristics, as viewed from the logical mind. This experience is alluded to in various world religions and mythologies. This experience is homogeneous and unified across all religions and practices; however, it is often referred to or clothed in very personal ways and the rubble of theology often tries to conceal it. Sages from different religions always point past words to speak of the same experience. Although the figures, symbols, metaphors and language may vary, they all point to the same Landscape, the same universal perception or experience beyond words and conceptualization. Given this disclaimer, I will foolishly attempt to outline below some coherent characteristics of this perception or experience.

Perhaps the most important characteristic of this experience is that it cannot be understood through pure reason or intellectual discussion alone or simply through reading and dissecting this or any other book. As mentioned earlier, it is not content to be used or to grasp for salvation or enlightenment or for entering heaven. Its source is a fundamental Mystery that cannot be revealed in the same way that a person cannot reduce the physical world to distinct and tangible material. Therefore, it can never be proven as you would prove a mathematical theorem or concept. Moreover, although one may grasp and even accept the points of this book, one is not automatically led to this sensibility that is discussed here. There is world of difference between knowing the path and walking the path. It is not something that can be studied or achieved with enough education or skill.

In speaking of educated figures who hold high positions of power within religious circles, Jesus says in Matthew 11:25: "… I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." The suggestion here is that intellectual knowledge, regardless of the number of years of education or social status one may possess, cannot provide an accurate picture or an intimate experience of “these things”, that Landscape of the Father. The nature of the perception is pre-analytical; it precedes thinking and requires that the conditioned mind come to a standstill. Skills in analysis and dissection leave us outside the realm of the experience. The experience is associated with revelation, which is an internal spark of understanding or awareness that is of greater dimensions than the intellectual mind and involves one's entire being. The mind’s limitations prohibit it from describing or understanding this perception. The mind can only provide an interpretation, a speculation, or at best clues. That is to say, everything that runs through the mind is filtered according to the nature or structure or conditioning of the mind; therefore, that which comes out of the mind always contains a reflection of it. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in physics speaks exactly of this phenomenon whereby the mere act of scientific observation alters that which is being observed. The consequence of this idea is that we can never truly know objectively the absolute nature of something through our intellectual or scientific mind. There is no true objective or absolute reality that can be observed from the “normal”, intellectual consciousness that pervades our lives. Anything that comes out of the mind is content, and the subject of discussion here is not content.

Artists run into this phenomenon during the creative process. Many of them acknowledge that they are most creative when their intellectual minds are "shut off", idle or quieted. Thinking and analyzing often hinder creativity. Once the mind enters a certain state of passivity, it becomes highly sensitive and creativity comes alive. This process is a result of active contemplation, which is essential for the experience. Creativity happens first and then, perhaps at a later point, dissection and analysis can take place. Something informs the artist and his ability to give form to his vision. This is a fundamental truth for creative people and it holds true also for the nature of the experience. They come from the same source. A creative act is a result of a meditation or reflection that goes beyond mere effort, intent, thoughts and feelings. A work of art is crystallized experience and, just as a metaphor can turn into fact, into theology, a work of art can often be studied or "killed" without it being embraced as a living source of revelation. Critics and academics often come along to analyze or to reveal the structure or theory behind a work of art and a reason as to why it "works." And although these critics and academics may have authentically experienced the work of art, they can only express their experience of it to others in intellectual or analytical terms.

Oftentimes, the sage is unaware of the change that is taking place in him beyond his conscious mind. Likewise, the artist is often unaware of the processes of artistic creation. The artist is engaged in moments of conception as he gives birth to his work, much like a mother giving birth to her child. The mother may not be able to physically see the child that is being born from her womb but she can feel the baby as she pushes. Theology tries to identify, to catalog the process of the experience. Likewise, modern science and medicine so far have not involved themselves with the wonder and mystery in childbirth but are only concerned with a sterile documentation of the physical process. Theology then is the mind's attempt to clearly describe God or at least to spell out His wishes. In so doing, theology can never experience the essence of that which it seeks to identify; perhaps it doesn’t claim to do so. The problem comes when people mistake the concepts in theology for the reality to which they point. Theology then becomes about God. But to know God, one has to go past the charts and the catalogs and the descriptions and the concepts to become His lover. And indeed, no one can be His lover unless he is pierced at the level of the heart with the spear of Love and nailed to the cross of Experience.

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