More Mysterious

Stephen Batchelor from "The Limits of Belief, the Massiveness of Questions," from On Being, January 14, 2016:

"It is really about opening up to life as profoundly mysterious. And rather than trying to solve that mystery, it’s actually about penetrating that mystery. And when you penetrate a mystery, it doesn’t become less mysterious. It becomes, if anything, more mysterious.

So this source of questioning and doubt is something that, as you go into it, only intensifies. Only becomes, in a sense, more pronounced. But that doesn’t lead you into a kind of a chaotic bafflement.

It actually becomes a still, I think, rather serene relationship that you begin to cultivate with life as such, that everything, every detail of life, every person you meet, every situation you find yourself in, is one that, in a sense, is deeply surprising, deeply odd. It lets go of your habitual views and opinions about this, that, or the other, have less firm ground to stand on."


"The weird paradox is that the more you ask yourself the question — 

Death is certain, its time is uncertain, what should I do? 

— this brings you back to a very vivid sense that you’re alive. It intensifies the sense of aliveness, in terms of how you see the colors, the shapes, the leaves, the flowers, the — whatever impacts you visually, from the ears to the nose to the tongue to the body to the mind — it is a kind of intensifier of being alive. A kind of — almost a celebration of being here at all.

And that is infused not only with a sense of wonder, but also with a sense of possibility, a sense of responsibility, that in what you say, think, do, this may be your final legacy on this earth. That, to me, is where this reflection leads me. And it’s with me — I wouldn't say every single minute of every single day. I also have moments in which I’m not particularly proud of how I speak or act or think. But broadly speaking, I find myself constantly returning to what’s implicit in that question. And that has made my life, I think, very full. I’m deeply grateful for the practices that this tradition has brought me. And I very much hope that others, too, will find value in these ideas. And it will allow their lives, too, to flourish."