Dissecting something may tell you a bit about the parts that make it up, but it rarely reveals the spark which gives it life, the magic behind the processes of its life.
After all, we cut up bodies for centuries without ever getting close to understanding the mysteries which are revealed today, and yet, still, systems like the mind are mysteries, beyond our current level of complete comprehension.
The power of science lies in the power of the mystery, dancing with the unknowable to get a glimmer, a hint of more understanding.
For many people, though, the power of the mystery, the spark of the divine surprise are seriously disconcerting. They do what people have always done, filling in the blank spaces with stories, myths that represent their beliefs about what is going on under the surface, tales that make them feel like they live in some kind of knowledge.
We can listen to all the stories people used to believe about how the wider universe worked and see that while some old wives tales were based on good observation, long experience and offered folk wisdom, many of them were just imaginary crap that offered a false sense of control.
Today there is lots of chatter about mansplaining, the tendency of some men to fill all the empty spaces with their own asserted wisdom without worrying too much about accuracy. They take comfort in being the fount of knowledge, the only one who knows how it works, so they help little ladies and the rest understand.
These kind of people choose to live in the answer rather than in the question, asserting received knowledge without challenge. Conspiracy theorists are trying to codify what they don’t want to have to work to know. They substitute their beliefs for the hard bit of learning, always knowing there there things they don’t know but filling that space in with their voodoo assumptions, certain of causes that lurk with evil.
Living in a world where everything has an answer, even if that answer may be made up, is living in a world without clutter, a world where there aren’t a bunch of unused bits and hanging threads, a world where you can be sure about your choices, even of what to dispose of, because you are sure that you know.
It is also, though, a world without mysteries. The space for them is taken up by assertions and ghost stories, explaining away the unknown and unknowable with made up tales rooted in beliefs about the way the world really works, the hidden truths that have been revealed by some scuttlebutt somewhere.
When you fill up your mindspace with comforting and assured answers, no matter if those answers are based in scholarship or scuttlebutt, you leave little room for mystery, little room for awe, little room for creativity and little room for reverence.
Those answers you hold to keep you comfortable do the same thing as the Frog DNA used to fill up the genomes in “Jurassic Park,” allowing the animals to switch sex and start to breed. You get unanticipated results from unconsidered assumptions as the old stuff lies in wait to sabotage the new striving for better.
The hardest thing about seeing in a new way is clearing out all the bits that you used to believe. Ask any transwoman who emerged later in life and she can tell you that letting go of the old defences, the habitual armour is incredibly difficult. It demands getting naked again, being vulnerable again, allowing our own innocence to let us learn like children, letting go of what doesn’t work and starting fresh.
What is vital, though, is to engage the divine surprise and live in the mystery, in the question. The more we try and force quick and simple answers the more we end up driving away powerful, nuanced and sophisticated answers which enlighten us at a whole new level of seeing.
To be ready to learn and grow, finding new and better, we have to be ready to not be quick to find easy, simple and wrong answers to open questions. We have to be willing to sit with the mystery, respecting it, allowing patterns to emerge from the clutter as insights occur and our enlightenment grows.
Possibility only exists in new ways of thinking and seeing. To be open to the new, we have to respect the mystery, treating what we don’t know with respect and reverence.
As a transperson, I need the mystery. I have spent a life where people tried to erase my own liminal bits by shoving their own beliefs into them, asserting their own view of real reality. Every time I did that, I felt erased and dismissed, the magical and transcendent bits of me being disrespected, my own emergence being trounced on.
Reverence for what we don’t know is always the starting point to a fuller and deeper knowledge. Too much assertion based in our received beliefs and routine habits blocks growth and understanding rather than expanding them.
I need the mystery, for in the mystery lies divine surprises which can delight and enlighten me. I seek the spark, not the comforting simplification.
That is the way that I respect creation, even the creation of others around me.
Lots of open questions? Great! Lets look for more, and as we revere the questions, bigger and more powerful answers will come.