Even This Is a Guess

Even This Is a Guess July 1, 2024

Life has been happening long before we came on the scene. All we know is that the Whole of Life and how it weaves and works is still a mystery—The Mystery. Every part of life has energy that we can call life-force. Even this is a guess. But we have to start somewhere. At once, the presence of life-force emanates like light while drawing other life to it like gravity.

Since the beginning of the human journey, people have had their direct experience of the Mystery, which has generated a particular way of seeing, which after a time evokes a particular way of knowing. That way of knowing needs a place to store its questions and learnings, and so, now we have a particular field of knowledge. In order to study and develop this field of knowledge, we create a discipline which needs to be housed in a school, trade, or university. To participate in this field, there are now requirements and admission standards. And with that, there is acceptance and rejection. This gives us the illusion that some people belong and some don’t, based on the misguided assumption that some people know and some people don’t.

Yet, the abiding, inclusive heart of the Mystery is that there are infinite ways to experience and see it. And while each is indicative of the Whole, none is the Whole. To see the Mystery through the lens of how things grow leads to fields of knowledge such as biology, botany, and zoology. To see the Mystery through the lens of how things work leads to fields of knowledge such as physics, geology, and engineering. To see the Mystery through the lens of relationship leads to fields of knowledge such a psychology, sociology, and anthropology. To see the Mystery through the lens of how thing join, through the lens of Oneness, leads to the mystical and spiritual traditions. And to see the Mystery through the lens of how the unseen can be glimpsed and felt leads to the various arts, including music, dance, theater, painting, sculpture, and poetry.

What is utterly miraculous about all this is that the Mystery is reflected in infinite ways of knowing, each a facet in an infinitely-sided prism. We need them all to evoke a sense of the Whole. Once we can accept that all attempts at knowledge are just guesses, then the noble aim of learning is to see and know through as many lenses as we can. So we can access the Whole, not claim it.

Over time, our way of seeing and knowing can harden into specific theories and protocols that are no longer questioned. From this brittle perspective, there is more squinting than seeing and more conclusion than curiosity.

Until, like ice thawing in spring, the very heat of life reasserts its presence and we are forced to start over, wondering what life is all about. Until we remember that anyone born in time is just as close to the Mystery as we are. Until we remember that we are not here to measure or calibrate or describe or even to understand. As stunning as it is simple, we are here to live. And so, all that follows is just my guess.

A Question to Walk With: Discuss with a friend or loved your own guess at how life has come to be and what our role in it might be.

This excerpt is from my book in progress, The Promise of the Inner World.

Mark will be offering retreats, free events, and a few special journeys in 2024. Here’s the list of what’s coming up! 

July 21, 28, & Aug 4, 2024 | Finding Inner Courage: Our Walk in the World
A 3-Session Online Webinar with Mark Nepo To register visit Live.MarkNepo.com

July 31 6pm ET:  FREE EVENT You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: The Net of Friendship, reading and conversation followed by 45 minute river walk at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Free event. Please register in advance here 

Aug 16-18: You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: The Power of Friendship, weekend retreat, at Mercy By the Sea, 167 Neck Rd, Madison, CT.  For more information or to register, click here. ✅

 Sept 8 11am PT/2pm ET – FREE ONLINE EVENT You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: The Power of Friendship, Join Mark Nepo with Joel Fotinos in Conversation, hosted by Banyen Books & Sound. Register for this free event here.  ✅

Sept 16–21: You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: The Power of Friendship, a Mastery Week Retreat at the Modern Elder Academy in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Click here to get information and to register.

 Sept 29 1pm PT/4pm ET: You Don’t Have to Do It Alone with Mark Nepo in Conversation with Brooke Warner, this online ticketed event is hosted by Book Passage. Register here for the zoom link. 

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