One lesson on which all schools of spirituality agree is that nothing on Earth is worthwhile for its own sake. All goals, however grand, are limited. They cost pain to get and if gotten are always in danger of being lost. Eventually they are lost, and then more is desired again. This is a hamster wheel and a fool's game. When this is realized, the basis of motivation must change.
Even the “magical" and the “divine” are just words, and can never serve as a true basis for long-term, sustained action in the world. The mind cannot truly conceive the meaning of these words, and so converts them into more limited, dead things.
Curiosity is the key
What, then, is the basis for enlightened action in the world? What is there to act for and why?
No thing can suffice. And enlightenment is, indeed, the recognition of the not-a-thing that is our own self. We are, of course, not even the doer. And yet this question arises...
For there remains -- in the very fullness, in the very completeness of our true Self -- a delicious, delightful, strange and colorful incompleteness.
What is the nature of this incompleteness? Where did it come from and what is its point?
The more we ask such questions, the more we realize the fact of our confusion. That confusion is not weak or harmful. On the contrary. it is the one true, durable motivation. It is the other side of the coin of enlightenment, that which accepts the necessary limitation of life and in fact feeds on it: curiosity.
It's all about The Puzzle
Life is a deep well of mystery and while enlightenment points to our true nature as total peace, it does not resolve this mystery.
We don't know the name or nature of this Mystery. Its name is its heart, its unsolved Question. We simply know that, deep within us, it calls to us.
It is a Puzzle, it is a Wonder, and whatever name we put to it never quite captures it. The name is dead as soon as it is spoken, for the reality changes instantly, constantly. We think it is here, and try to catch it, but it turns out it was over there the whole time. It moves endlessly without seeming to have moved at all. This is the game we are all playing, and when it is recognized as a game, it becomes fun.
Two paths to putting the jigsaw pieces together: wider and deeper
We cannot fully win this game. In fact, what we want is to be puzzled more and more deeply, more and more delightfully. And that requires finding answers which are themselves doorways to more intricate questions. It's like a video game with an infinite number of levels.
There are two ways of playing this game.
One is lateral: it connects various disciplines. Bring the humanities together, the sciences together, the arts together, and then connect all the insights of these different domains with each other. The entire experience of the entire human race must eventually connect and show a bigger piece of the Picture.
The other is vertical. We must each go deeper and deeper into our own specific viewpoint, our own precious and utterly unique individuality. How do we do this? We express what it is like to experience our experiences so accurately and originally that others can feel the way we feel. We at least try. All of us have exclusive access to our own story, to our own memories, and they are a fund of answers -- not just for ourselves, but for everyone. We all have the duty and pleasure of being artists.
Answers are just questions in disguise
The entire task of human knowledge and wisdom and creation is to help us piece together this strange Puzzle, this Thing which we all want to desperately know. What is that Thing? What is its meaning? This is the heart of the heart of what we don't know.
Every revelation leads us to greater clarity and greater mystery. That's the frustrating joy of the chase. There is an infinite unfolding of the unknown into the known, and that into the even more unknown.
It is to speak, and by speaking, to see, more of the infinite facets of the Question that is the real task. We are pushing against the limits...deeper and deeper, subtler and subtler.
The truth is stranger than we can possibly imagine. That strangeness is God; that strangeness is our true Self. We are it and we wish to see it. We are unlimited, and so unlimited that we are capable of limitation. And within the folds of these paradoxes there lies nestled the Question.