Friday, April 30, 2010


When I wrote my post on Evolving My Spirituality (3/5/10), I mentioned that I felt like my spirituality had four sources: Love, Community, Nature, and the Earth. Later, in my post on Second Thoughts (4/14/10), I said that I wanted to add Mystery to my spiritual sources and would write a post about Mystery in the future. This is it.

However, it's not like Mystery is something new to my spirituality. I can remember as a teenager, looking up at the endless blue sky or the star-filled night sky or immense ocean, and realizing how small I was and how big the universe is. These were some of my earliest spiritual experiences. Yes, some of this was about Nature and that's why I include Nature in my spiritual sources--but the wonder involved is more than about just Nature. For me it was about realizing that we will never fully understand the universe.

The book of Job ends with Job questioning God and God, in turn, questioning Job--asking where are the foundations of the earth (or the universe, for that matter), and where are the springs of the sea? Where does the light and darkness come from? What controls the stars? Who feeds the lions and the ravens?

Scientists are now working on answering some of these questions, but each answer opens up new questions. Who feeds the lions and the ravens, for example, opens up all the questions about how ecosystems work. (See my post on Systems, 12/14/09, for more thoughts about this.) Sure, we can say that this all evolved, but how does that work? Many scientists would argue it all happened by chance--and even that is marvelous and mysterious. But contemporary complexity theorists (see my posts on Complexity Theory, 7/16/08, and At Home in the Universe, 1/29/10) now believe that there is an implicit order in things that helps systems like this emerge out of the chaos, a phenomena of 'self-organization'. They would say that the world is evolving, but there is direction in that evolution--although we have no idea how that happened.

Or take the whole beginning of the universe (it's foundation, if you will). Sure, it seems likely it came out of the big bang, and scientists can describe what happened up to trillionths of a second after the big bang occurred, but I think that most admit that they cannot describe or even guess what happened at the actual occurrence--much less what gave rise to the big bang. What we are left with is mystery.

There are many who would name that Mystery as God. I'm not ready to go there.

Someone that I lived with several years ago had a sign in his room that said: "Radical Agnostic: I don't know and you don't either". I'm not even ready to be that definitive. I am very concerned with 'hubris', in this case the idea that we can know it all. I don't even think I can know that you don't know. My version of the sign would be "I don't know and I suspect that you don't either". But who am I to be definitive? Who am I to say that you don't know? All I know is that I don't know--and that Mystery, that not knowing and perhaps not even being able to know, is at the core of my spirituality.

Years ago, I attended a talk by Stephen Levine. He was discussing death and dying and mentioned spirituality. Someone asked him what his definition of spirituality was. He said something to the effect that spirituality was openness to the Unknown.

That has been my definition of spirituality since.

Quote of the Day: "...everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding..." - Dorothy Thompson


Kate DuBois said...

I am so glad I found your blog! I really appreciate what you wrote about not presuming to know what is true for anyone else regarding their spirituality. I agree with you and Steven Levine and the Mystery.

I'm also smiling because just earlier this evening I was reading a passage about Job and his sense of inner worth in the face of his difficulties in the book
The Law of Attraction
by Deborah Morrison and Arvind Singh. Based on what you've written I think you'd really like the book.

Can't wait to come back and read more of your writing.

MoonRaven said...

Welcome to this blog, Kate, and thanks for your comment. I do hope that you enjoy what you read here.