Monday, September 27, 2010

Beyond Yes and No

Many of us spend at least some time thinking about answers to the "big questions."

Is there a God? Is there good and evil? Is there a right way and a wrong way to be in the world? Am I on the right path? What should I do?

These questions have been with us since we have been human, and no one has found a definitive answer to them yet (though many argue they have). Why is this?

It seems to me that one possible answer is that the same human brain that is trying to answer the question is the one that created it in the first place.

Our brains seem to work by dividing and conquering. At its simplest, this means dividing the world into "things I like" and "things I don't like." The brain seems compelled to divide its world into categories, and then sort the things it sees (or doesn't see) into those categories.

We do this with food, with people, with jobs, with beliefs. We create codes of conduct--is it wrong not to tell the truth if doing so would hurt someone's feelings? Is it wrong to steal if my children are hungry?

But what exists before our brains do this dividing? Before this separation of the world into questions and answers? Just the world as it is. This is so obvious that most of the time it escapes us. Each of us creates our world by dividing it into categories. It seems that this created world is solid and real because much of the time, our concepts agree. You and I can generally agree that the purple thing in the corner is a chair, for example.

But every one of our arguments is about how our concepts disagree with each other. And this is the big hint that points us to the way we each create our own world.

What exists before that act of creation? The simple act of not knowing. Even to say "I" don't know is too much, because even that "I" is just a set of thoughts and concepts.

Just for a moment, resist the urge to answer your questions. Instead, rest in not knowing. In the world as it is before questions. The answer is not an answer at all. It is to go beyond the question.


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