Recently in a reply to a comment I wrote that I recognized what I called ‘the culminating revelation’ in the works of James Joyce. What I meant by ‘culminating revelation’ was the fact that words, being fixed and static entities captured and held onto in the synaptic wonder of our brains, always fall short of encompassing the wonder and mystery that is Life’s ever-ongoing flow.
Big words, I admit, this notion of a ‘culminating revelation.’ But read between the lines of any Buddhist or Zen screed or mystic revelation and the inadequacy of words and the ideas we formulate with them is a central tenet.
However, reality remains what it is and we Westerners seem to cling stubbornly to the concept of an ‘Ultimate Reality’ that is somewhere ‘out there’ as an idea that will clear up all our yearning, confusion and misunderstanding. The conspiracy theorists amongst us revel in the idea that it is somewhere hidden away by vague and nefarious entities or organizations. Less peripheral figures, usually the educated set, maintain that if we only expand our minds and their capacity for processing information, perhaps to the magnitude of a new generation AI supercomputer we will ultimately solve the penultimate puzzle.
Both are fooled by tricks our rational minds play on us.
Listen to how Zen master Hakuin puts it:
“Not knowing how near the Truth is,
People seek it far away: what a pity
This very earth is the Lotus Land of Purity,
And this body is the body of the Buddha.”
Or closer to home, here’s Oswald Spengler from his colossal Decline of the West:
“Abstract thinking consists in the use of a finite word-framework into which it is sought to squeeze the whole infinite content of life. Concepts kill being and falsify Waking Being. Long ago in the springtime of language-history, while understanding had still to struggle in order to hold its own with sensation, this mechanization was without importance for life. But now, from a being who occasionally thought, man has become a thinking being, and it is the ideal of every thought-system to subject life, once and for all, to the domination of intellect.”
Wow, subject Life, once and for all, to the domination of intellect.
Oh woe is man, the thinking being!