I Am a Mystery
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
In a recent post, Traces, I spoke of the reality of the self as mystery. The self that I know is a "trace", an idea about myself which allows me to think of myself — an identity, a story. It is not my 'true self'. My true self is beyond all knowing. In this sense, it does not differ from the Ultimate Mystery. Nor, indeed, does it differ from any other thing we might encounter. All things are mystery. Yet this mystery that is me is special to me, of course, because it is my most immediate experience.
It may very well be that the mystery that is me is, in fact, the Ultimate Mystery. I suspect that it is so, but I cannot know it.
I have entitled this post I Am Mystery because I want to address the idea of I AM as the expression of who I am. There is the teaching that my "I am" is the Universal I AM. This is more than I can say, because it is more than I can know and thus, for me, it is a distraction. This is so not only because it reduces Mystery to a "trace", how ever 'grand', but also because it imports Person into Mystery and would seem to redeem my person as an eternal verity.
Death, with its possible (and possibly probable) meaning as the extinction of my personal, apparent existence, is valuable to me as a reality only in so far as I allow it to be the mystery that it is. The philosophical Taoist summation of life and death as a single thread, as a unity, is truly possible only when we do not co-opt either of them with belief. What I am is mystery.
I have also entitled this post I Am Mystery, not to focus on me, but to provide a usable 'formula'. You are mystery to you, but only as I am mystery. (You are also mystery to me as you, as I am to you, of course, but that is an entirely different experience.)
When I say that the Ultimate is Mystery, this says nothing about the Ultimate. It is Mystery because I cannot know it. All discussion takes place on my side of infinity.
I cannot know Mystery, but I believe that I can experience It. This is because I do. We all do. It is the very context of our consciousness. We literally swim in it, as fish swim in the sea. It is our consciousness.
We become aware of Mystery through surrender into It. Surrender is required because the assumed concreteness and fixity of identity separates us from the experience of It. Surrender is the transcendence of identity. To be aware of It is to experience It, for awareness is much more than knowing or understanding; it is not cognitive, but experiential.
The mystery that is you is the root of your being. And this is your most immediate connectedness to Mystery. (Whether this is ontologically so, I cannot say.) Surrendering into this, vanishing here, being this, you experience Mystery.
And how do you know that you have done so? There are no "traces" in Mystery. You will have "lost me".
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.