The Enormous Benefit of Seeing Life as a Mystery

“The mystery of life is not a puzzle to be solved, but a reality to be experienced” –Frank Herbert mystery

Most things in life seem to fall into one of three categories:

  • Things we think we understand
  • Things we know we don’t understand, and
  • Things our smart little human minds have never even fathomed

I strongly encourage you to explore and make yourself at home in the last two categories.

If you do find yourself there, you’re likely to run into some children. Children tend to live in the unknown.

They know they don’t know much; that they are relatively new around here. It’s why they learn so quickly—they are open and receptive without much I-already-know-all-of-this-I-have-a-better-way interference.

It’s also why they live in awe of the world around them. Rightfully so. They see the world more as it is, than as they think it is.

As we grow up and become smarter, we tend to learn more slowly and be less impressed by the world around us. Not because those brain-sponge, awe-and-wonder qualities expire, or because adult life is too hard. Simply because we hang out in Things-We-Think-We-Understand-Land more.

Our minds are so busy staring at what-we-think-we-already-know, that it’s a bit harder for what-we-don’t-know to get past the gate.

When I talk with someone about what we do know about how human life works for the first few times, and that truth is a little different than what they thought they knew, it’s not always easy. They hear me, but they don’t always HEAR me.

You know, like teenagers. Like when you already knew your parents were wrong before you even heard what they said. (It’s funny how things change. Children know they don’t know anything until one day when they become positive they know everything).

Regardless of how much we think we understand, life is pretty much a complete mystery as far as I can tell. Even to the wisest and most enlightened among us. It is one gigantic, miraculous mystery and it is enormously beneficial to see it that way.

When we truly see that it’s a mystery, we stop trying to make sense of it. When we truly see it as a mystery we marvel at it again, like we did as kids.

Here’s an example of a question I hear frequently: “Do you think these negative thoughts are sticking around because I give them too much attention? Or do you think it’s because I’m resisting them or that I’m afraid of them? Or maybe it’s that I’ve been acting on my thoughts and that’s why they are so strong these days. What would you do?”

This is what one asks when they don’t like their experience and they are looking for the formula behind life that will allow them to manipulate things. In their innocence, they aren’t curious about where their experience comes from so much as they are desperate to know how to “fix” life to suit their preferences. They are asking me to help them control life to be the way they’ve decided it should be.

They’ve fallen out of love with the mystery of life and they are thick in the middle of trying to change things. (Substitute “the mystery of life” with your ex’s name, and you’ll see that a similar thing tends to happen in relationships.)

Discomfort is not a call to crack the code on life so that we can fix or manipulate it.

Discomfort is an invitation to soften into the impersonal mystery of life.

There is freedom in the mystery. It means there’s nothing for you to do.

Nothing to figure out or fix, no blame to assign, no changes to make.

Only an ever-changing, impermanent show to marvel at.

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