2. A Thread

Perfect Brilliant StillnessDavid Carse
“Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull
of what you truly love.”
– Rumi

“Wisdom can be learned –
but it can’t be taught.”
– Anthony DeMello

THERE IS ONLY ONE. There is not ever in any sense many, or even two. All perception of distinction and separation, of duality, and therefore of what is known as physical reality, is a mind-created illusion, of the nature of a dream. What you think you are, a separate individual entity, is part of this illusion. You are not the doer of any action or the thinker of any thought. Events happen, but there is no doer. All there is, is Consciousness. That is what You truly are.

In the study or practice of philosophy, religion or spirituality, one comes across a recurring set of ideas and statements such as these, which attempt to point to the true nature of reality: a continuous thread of understanding spanning nearly all cultures and all of history and which has been referred to as ‘the perennial wisdom.’

In terms of sheer numbers, relatively few people have been interested in discovering or learning about this thread of insight, and far fewer have understood it fully. Hence there is something of an aura of secret or mystery about it; an aura which, according to human nature, has been exploited and capitalized on throughout history, by mystery schools and secret cults and all kinds of teachers who claim to have special, exclusive knowledge about the nature of What Is.

But truly it is and always has been an open secret; passed on, offered and made available both within and outside of all the major spiritual traditions. Although pursued and understood by so few, this thread of Understanding, this perennial wisdom, has endured because it offers no less than everything: the answers to life’s questions, the true nature of all that is, ultimate meaning and purpose, and the end of suffering.

Since it offers so much, it might seem peculiar that the Understanding of this, and the elements of what is simply referred to as the Teaching, have been discovered by so few. There is actually a basic reason for this, inherent in the Understanding itself. But the immediate, functional reason as viewed from human experience and understanding is this: the Teaching, the perennial wisdom, cannot be directly expressed. Teachers who have come to understand it can point to it, talk around it, suggest ways and means for others to approach it; but cannot directly and clearly state it. This leads many to believe it is not real or not worth pursuing, while to others who are drawn to it this characteristic of the Teaching is the source of much frustration and exasperation.

Albert Einstein once said that a problem cannot be solved by the same mind that created it. In a similar way, any answers to the questions concerning human existence which arise from within that human experience will themselves be part of the problem, conditioned by and arising from the same situation which they seek to explain. It stands to reason that any true answer or ultimate understanding must in a sense come from outside of, must be other than, the condition it understands.

Such is the case with the Understanding. It is not of this human condition; it comes from ‘outside,’ it is completely other than or prior to all of human experience and comprehending. But of course as such, it is inherently incomprehensible; since it arises outside of human thought and experience, it cannot be it put into, limited to, or captured by human concepts and words. While it can be learned, it cannot be taught. While it can in itself be in-seen, apperceived, or if you will intuited, it cannot be directly talked about or even for that matter thought of in linguistically structured thoughts or ideas or concepts. Does exist. Cannot be expressed.

Naturally, this is enough to put off most of the human race, to lead them to look for whatever meaning may be found in something a little more tangible. And it is enough to spark and hold the interest of the few who find themselves drawn, or driven, into that ineffable flame. These are the ones called ‘spiritual seekers.’ They know, and are haunted by the knowledge, that the ultimate answer is there, just beyond their perception. And they spend their lives following and listening to the seers and sages, masters and elders, trying to learn what cannot be taught.

And then, inexplicably, there are those who are surprised by grace, in whom the true nature of What Is becomes obvious. Perhaps after long years of following and listening and learning, or perhaps even more incongruously with little or no overt seeking. If it seems peculiar that so few should awaken from the dream of everyday life to see things as they are, consider that it is stranger yet, given the parameters of the dream, that any should awaken at all.

And of these in whom the Understanding of What Is does occur, what can be said? They are the inverse; awake to what the world is asleep to and asleep to what the world is awake to. Little about them will make sense to the regular person, even to those well versed in spiritual things.

“The awakened mind is turned upside down and does not accord even with the Buddha-wisdom.”

  • Hui Hai

Of these, there will be some through whom will come, just as inexplicably, an attempt to communicate the incommunicable; thus keeping alive the continuous thread of the perennial wisdom.

Does exist. Cannot be expressed.

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