By mystery, I don't mean a puzzle to be solved or an intellectual exercise. I mean mystery as the very stuff of life.
For me, this mystery of here and now is the feeling of wonder and interest and involvement we get in participating in life. Albert Einstein said,
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."
Perhaps we are too eager to find all the solutions to life's problems. If we move into life with a sense that we already have all the answers we need, or satisfied that all the important answers have been taken care of, we miss out. We miss the opportunity to open to the new and fresh. We miss a sense of engagement in life. We end up feeling disconnected and fearful and joyless. We miss the point.
If instead we move into life with a question mark - not needing the answers, but wondering what this moment is all about. Just wondering. As we take this open-ended approach, we make ourselves more available to realization, more open to insight. Life begins to reveal its mysteries even as it makes room for more questions. When we allow ourselves to let go of a need to understand or control life, life shows itself to us as something that is marvellous and precious.
From his book "The Faith to Doubt", Stephen Batchelor speaks of mystery in a delightful way. He says,
"When confronting the mysterious we can not rely upon any logical or technical means to gain insight. For as soon as we attempt to "figure out" a mystery, it ceases to be such and becomes a mere problem. ... Unlike a problem, a mystery can never be solved. A mystery can only be penetrated. A problem once solved ceases to be a problem; but the penetration of a mystery does not make it any less mysterious. The more intimate one is with a mystery, the greater shines the aura of its secret. The intensification of a mystery leads not to frustration (as does the increasing of a problem) but to release."
Life itself is a mystery. It can not be solved. It can only be penetrated. And as we penetrate it with interest, it leads to release. It's a release that's joyful and connected. It's fun. So let's let ourselves be perplexed, to be questioning, to be curious. Let's see life as a mystery to be enjoyed and see where it takes us.
First published August 2002 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.