Remembering the Mystery in which We Live

“If you think that the Truth can be known
From words,
If you think that the Sun and the Ocean
Can pass through that tiny opening
Called the mouth,

O someone should start laughing!
Someone should start wildly laughing—

~ Hafiz (1325/26–1389/90),
Persian poet and mystic,
in the poem, Some Should Start Laughing

We forget so many of the wonders which surround us.

For example, see those stars to the left? Those aren’t stars.

They’re galaxies within a dime-sized portion of the night sky photographed by NASA.

It’s thought the Universe has more than 100 thousand million (100 billion) galaxies

Just our galactic home alone, the Milky Way, contains perhaps as many as 200 billion stars. And the other galaxies?

In our galaxy and others, there are innumerable planets circling the innumerable stars. We have only begun to discover other planets capable of support life as we know it.

And though a rock will fall to earth, these planets are suspended in the seeming nothing of space.

And while you walk, do you ever recall that you are walking upon the surface of a planet which is whirling through space?

The edges of the Universe are expanding. Have you ever wondered – expanding into what?

And there are the wonders of life, intelligence, and death.

The immensity of this Mystery in which we live and move and have our being is truly wondrous. Yet too often, we grow numb, become jaded to the Mystery.

The thoughtlessness with which we so easily bandy about our concepts about life and the universe belie our ignorance. Still our concepts provide us security, though a false security amid the vast unknown.

The inner din of all we know muffles the silence of the Mystery. And were we to really believe that we understand it, then yes, as Hafiz suggests, someone should start laughing.

It’s not that we shouldn’t think or strive for knowledge. Rather, can we hold such knowledge tentatively in the face of a Mystery that forever will surpass the capacity of our intellect?

When you have a chance, go outside on a starlit night. Maybe sit down in the darkness. Put mind aside. Just look up, and be filled. All this Mystery surrounds and enfolds you; all this is the home in which you have your being.

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