David Hoffmeister and Mysticism

David Hoffmeister: Most of us have a dual outlook on life. On one level, we simply do all the things we must do every day-work, eat, play. . . . But on another level, we hope there is more to life-something that feels deeply real, a goal worthy of any effort, a grand overarching scheme. This hope is usually pushed into the background because it is so strongly discouraged by the materialistic values that prevail in our culture.

But suppose we do not wish to settle for a materialism that dulls our vitality. We might look for wisdom in conventional religion, or for self-knowledge in psychology and the workings of the brain, but these do not aim high enough. We might look to science with its hope of unraveling the secrets of the universe and providing for the material well-being of all, but these, too, are ultimately not satisfying. Where, then, are we to find what we long for? Nasrudin, the mythical Middle Eastern jokester-sage, asks the same question:

It’s 4:00 A.M. Nasrudin leaves the tavern and walks the town aimlessly. A policeman stops him. AWhy are you out wandering the streets in the middle of the night?@ “Sir,” replied Nasrudin, “if I knew the answer to that question, I would have been home hours ago!”

To find what we desire, we must dig deeper. We must discern the essence of spirituality; we must see what is beyond psychology and the workings of the brain; we must see what physics can tell us about the nature of existence.

And we must fly higher, until we have such an encompassing view that we can see the connections between spirit, brain, and physics, and ultimately discern the structure of all existence. When we can see this, and when we can begin to see why existence was brought into being, then we will find a goal worthy of any effort.

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