Project Mystery Insights
I. Science points to mystery.
Science recognizes the ultimate mystery when it asks:
Why is there something instead of nothing?
“Science cannot answer the deepest question. As soon as you ask why there is
something instead of nothing, you have gone beyond science.”
Allan Sandage, father of modern astronomy
"Why is there something rather than nothing is the question that we
will be stuck with when we have a final theory (of everything)...
We will be left facing the irreducible mystery."
Stephen Weinberg, Nobel physicist
“The clear light of science, we are often told, has abolished mystery, leaving only logic and reason. This is quite untrue. Science has removed the obscuring veil of mystery from many phenomena…but it confronts us with a basic and universal mystery –
the mystery of existence...we must learn to accept it and to accept its and
our existence as the one basic mystery.”
Julian Huxley, evolutionary biologist
"Science has limitations. Science will never be able to explain why the universe is as it is. Science will never be able to explain what is right and what is wrong."
Alan Lightman, MIT physics professor and author of
Einstein’s Dream and A Sense of the Mysterious
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.”
Albert Einstein, Nobel physicist
II. Religion points to mystery.
The ancient Chinese classic text, the Daodejing, begins by discussing the "dao,"
the absolute principle that underlies the universe and accounts for its changes.
Yet, it also says that the dao that can be known, named,
or conceived is not the true dao.
The Zohar from the Jewish Kabbalah says that there is the “nameless” or “endless” (ein sof) that surpasses all ideas of God. So great is the mystery of ein sof
that we can only know that we cannot know it.
The Buddha taught that nirvana, the ultimate truth, is a wordless mystery
that cannot be grasped by concepts or captured in words.
According to Hindu philosophers, Brahman, the absolute reality, “has no qualities.” Brahman is a mystery that transcends all conceptions of god.
The Qur’an says that the highest reality is
“above all comprehension” and the greatest mistake humans can make is to
associate this reality with anything we can create or imagine.
The Christian tradition intimates ultimate mystery with the concept of
the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, an idea that theologians claim
transcends human understanding.
Denys, a seminal Christian theologian, also emphasized the idea of mystery beyond
all human concepts of God. Between 500 to 600 CE, Denys wrote that the
Absolute "is neither soul nor intellect......nor can He be expressed or conceived,
since He is neither number nor order; nor greatness nor smallness; nor equality
nor inequality; nor similarity nor dissimilarity..... neither has He power nor is power, nor is light; neither does He live nor is He life; neither is He essence, nor eternity nor time; nor is He subject to intelligible contact; nor is He science nor truth.....
nor wisdom; neither one nor oneness, nor godhead nor goodness; nor is He spirit according to our understanding, nor anything else known to us or to any other beings of the things that are or the things that are not; neither does anything that is know Him as He is; nor does He know existing things according to existing knowledge; neither can the reason attain to Him, nor name Him, nor know Him; neither is He darkness nor light, nor the false nor the true; nor can any affirmation or negation be applied to Him, for although we may affirm or deny the things below Him, we can neither affirm nor deny Him, inasmuch as .....He transcends all affirmation, and the simple pre-eminence of His absolute nature is outside of every negation —
free from every limitation and beyond them all."
III. Embracing Mystery Deepens Spirituality
The mystery of why there is something instead of nothing and
the mystery beyond concepts of gods, goddesses, or God
are the same – the Ultimate Mystery that
is unsayable, unsolvable and unknowable!
Embracing Ultimate Mystery goes beyond the need to imagine a supreme "being". Rather, embracing Ultimate Mystery envisions that which is beyond the limits of all possible experience, knowledge, and comprehension. Embracing Ultimate Mystery represents a spirituality that is founded on humility and honesty.
Living the Mystery
Embracing Ultimate Mystery makes it possible to be sure you are not:
~ seeking that which cannot be sought
~ making up answers just to feel secure
~ imaging that your beliefs have to be right
~ ignoring the input of modern science
Embracing Ultimate Mystery makes it possible to be:
~ delighted that you are living life based on honesty and humility
~ enthralled that you are living life with wisdom
~ assured that you are finding your purpose
Creating Our Own Spirituality
Creating our own spirituality involves taking responsibility for our lives, helping others, and contributing to our world and its survival with morality and goodwill.
How do we take responsibility for our lives?
We need to focus on making the wisest decisions about life's big issues. We need to stop expecting gods, goddesses, or God to take care of us. We need to develop a new awareness of how precious each minute is and how important it is for each of us to do the best we can to live our lives and to teach our children how to live their lives.
A key to creating our own spirituality is making wise decisions that involve:
thinking and acting based on knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight plus having a commitment to dispel bias, prejudice, hate, anger, resistance to change, and opposition to new ideas. Being realistic, flexible, forgiving, understanding, resilient, and slow to anger is key.
Above all is honesty that involves integrity, truthfulness, and the absence
of telling lies or accepting deceptions. Thomas Jefferson says,
“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom".
Creating Ones Own Spirituality Is An Individual Choice
Consider These Options:
Love not Hate
Love is a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection. It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans and one's self. Love is a combination of feelings and attitudes that range from an strong attraction to personal attachment. The philosopher Gottfried Leibniz says that love is "to be delighted by the happiness of another." Meher Baba states that in love there is a "feeling of unity" and an "active appreciation of the intrinsic worth of the object of love." Biologist Jeremy Griffith defines love as "unconditional selflessness."
Compassion not Selfishness
Empathy is the selfless concern for the well-being of others while compassion is the deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the desire to relieve it. The Dalai Lama once said that "compassion is a necessity, not a luxury," and that "it is a question of human survival." Altruism needs to be coupled with empathy and compassion to actually act selflessly in the interests of others.
Engagement not Indifference
Engagement requires doing something that involves giving or receiving something from others when there is no outside force demanding that interaction. "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference," according to Elie Wiesel's Night.
Beauty not Ugliness
A quest for beauty in all its manifestations can also help us contribute to our world and its survival because beauty encompasses not only music, art, and poetry, but also an appreciation of the wonder of nature! Prince Myskin in Dostoevsky's The Idiot claims, "Beauty will save the world!". Beauty is especially important in science.
Albert Einstein, a Nobel laureate, said, “I have deep faith that the principle of the universe will be beautiful and simple." Murray Gell-Mann, a Nobel laureate, said,
"beauty is a very successful criterion for choosing the right theory."
He also suggested that beauty is universal, not just a human perception.
Humor not Gravity
By embracing humor we can focus on smiling instead of frowning with gravity.
The lyrics for Jimmy Buffet's song Fruitcakes jokes about religion by saying that
"God's honest truth is it's not that simple." Then after saying he thinks there is probably a little Buddhist, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, and pagan in all of us,
Buffet concludes by saying "Tell me what's goin on, I ain't got a clue."
That sentiment exemplifies the humility, honesty, and wisdom
we all need and it should make us smile!
The Biggest Why
The Biggest Why introduces 9 to 12 year old children to the
mystery of why there is something instead of nothing and the
mystery beyond human concepts of gods, goddesses and God.
The book lets youngsters know that the mystery beyond science
and the mystery beyond religion are indeed the same mystery
- the ultimate mystery. The Biggest Why suggests that accepting
ultimate Mystery is being honest and wise.
Tom Robbins, one of the top 100 novelists of the 20th century, wrote,
"The Biggest Why could be the most important children's book of our age –
for that matter, legion is the number of adults who could benefit
immensely from reading it with a mind slightly ajar".
The Biggest Why is in print as of August 2018.
Please contact Project Mystery if you would like to purchase a copy.