The true spiritual path is one often wrought with confusion. It is a quest to hold in one’s mind, heart and soul the deepest of mystery. Travelers of such a path are seized upon by wonder, they have to keep a course although they may have no comprehension of the strange landscapes they pass by, nor the destination ahead.
Many people expect such a path to be filled with light and clarity, but the truth is that this is a consumerist mentality, more dialectical thinking in which one pays a price and receives a product for such effort. The seeker offers such clarity as their sacrificial lamb to the flames of passionate quest. Thomas Moore in his book ‘The Soul’s Religion’ says “Any religious statement that doesn’t twist your mind into a knot is probably too rational and off the mark. Therefore, it might be good to approach the spiritual life without the need for understanding and clarity”.
The bible spoke of making no false images of God, while there are probably many reasons behind this commandment, I immediately think that it is because God is unimaginable, indemonstrable. How could one carve a true image of the infinite? Any such sculpture would be a false image, as the sculptor’s chisel could never unveil anything that represents the true mystery more than the initial untooled stone does.
There’s also another saying that ‘the most dangerous man is the one with God on his side’. Great damage and folly is committed by those who lack a realized humility and assert their knowledge as infallible links to the infinite divine. Confusion can be an armor that protects us from our own zealousness and reminds us of our humanity as we drink from mysterious springs.
In the Tao Te Ching, it is said that ‘those that know don’t speak and those that speak don’t know’ or the ‘Tao that is named is not the true and eternal Tao’. Such concepts point to the spiritual truism that our normal confident knowledge is not our greatest asset in the pursuit of spiritual mystery. It’s through ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’ that we make such discoveries, the aha moments wrapped in a humble fools robe.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson