“They reckon ill who leave me out.”
By all lights, I should have been crushed by despair by now. I mean, given the facts, all of us should have been. But I sense something greater than myself—or, phrased another way, there’s really no such thing as myself. Nothing unitary or permanent, that is. And, as “sensing” something implies: accessible. I don’t think of it as mystical—it’s just the familiar feeling I’ve had all my life. And that’s what’s so attractive and distinctive about it: you can count on it. Even in the direst episodes of my life, it was unmoved. It watches the narratives come and go, like breathing. They are infinite, transient, and perhaps inevitable, what I believe some people call “maya.”
But the “something” I mean is the primary state prior to narrative. It can’t be known by a fraction of itself, as the human dependency on narrative would have it. Even calling it “it” gives it a false ontological status. Emerson, quoted above, availed himself of the Hindu term “brahma.” Some people think that’s a lot of bull.
It is hard to recognize not because it is obscure, but so obvious.
It is the energy, or intelligence if you must, that underlies and gives birth to our reality. I believe all consciousness, in some way and to some degree, senses it. The less one senses it, the more pathological. I have known it all my life, like background cosmic radiation, and through the years have tried to graft various systems onto it, but none has ever taken.
The interface between its pervasive consciousness and our own I call intuition.
Intuition, in comparison to reason, is often considered pejorative, but for me it is not opposed to reason or different from it. They are both the working of the mind—at different points on the line of perception. Yes, they are “different”—but so are the shape and color of something, yet both “are” the something. You can study how life and ultimately human beings appeared and developed on this planet, or you can contemplate the so unlikely as to be absurd, yet true, fact of our existence at all, but they are not different. One is only the temporary arrest of the flow of the Given for study. In other words, reason belongs to narrative. The existence of reason does not.
In our communal narrative, 2 + 2 =4. Reason tells us that’s “correct.” We can prove it by experimentation. We can have two things, and add two more, and end up with four every time. We can “know” (inductively infer) this. But “knowing” we can rely on logic is a different knowing. It is this second knowing that I call intuition. The sense that reality is rational is our deepest intuition. Where does that come from? Or our sense of morality? Or our recognition of meaning?
Loved ones have detected notes of “atheism” or “agnosticism” in some of my struggles to express my feelings. I deny this because those terms have meaning only within a particular narrative that doesn’t resonate with me. Believing and not believing in God are not different, they’re just different narratives. Whatever narrative you construct or accept or buy, the bottom line is that you don’t know, the condition appropriate (inevitable) to the human mind. The mind of God/the mystery of existence—they are the same. Believing in God/believing reality is rational—the same. Gods’s will/nature—the same. We don’t know—and this is not a failing or something to be corrected or regretted. It is the essence of being human, the engine that drives all we are and do.
Can you really access something that is negated by the attempt to imagine it? And is it not circular to say we know of intuition through intuition? No, yes. But both of those answers require the primacy of subjectivity. Which I deny, because when it disappears, there’s still something. And that something is what I’ve longed for all my life. And known all my life—though it has mostly slept as I’ve gotten on with my life. Which, while you’re getting on with your life, is a good place for it.
We trade life for story. And watch ourselves do it.