“As long as you have mystery you have health. Destroy mystery and you create morbidity.” G K Chesterton

There was nothing my dear mother loved better than a good murder mystery. Indeed, she had read so many in her time that, whenever she got a handful of books from the library, she would begin at the end. If the ending seemed to satisfy her, she would go ahead and read it, even if she recognised that she read it before!. She was never able to give me a suitable answer as to the why of this, so I have put it down to another of life’s little paradoxes.
Unlike my mother, I ‘ve never ever read a single murder mystery; maybe because I’ve always been convinced that there’s enough mystery going on in real life to keep me enthralled. Thankfully, I don’t have all the answers to life’s meaning. I don’t want to know either, thank you very much. How much enjoyment would there be in reading a novel that was free of intrigue, conflict and red herrings. What would you possibly learn from the experience if you were able to read all the central characters, predict the plot and foresee the ending before you get to the final chapter?
We hate mystery. We want to think that we can solve it if we just apply enough rational thinking to it. After all, getting to the bottom of things helps us to maintain the illusion that we are in control and, above all, we are interested in maintaining the illusion of our power! But mystery won’t yield to solution! When we embrace mystery, we embrace our smallness and vulnerability. It involves a certain ‘letting go’ which we find intolerable.
Vive le mystère.
When I was younger I was convinced that mystery was the word theologians and philosophers used when they didn’t know the rational answer to things. I have learned that, in fact, it is actually something that theologians and philosophers say when they don’t know the rational answer, but not because they’re too busy to make the effort to find out—quite the opposite. They’ve been studying the nature of things so closely, and for so long, that they’ve noticed that mystery itself is part and parcel of the universe. Einstein said “One cannot help be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structures of reality.”
Today, cutting-edge quantum physics and mystical insights are beginning to dance a Fandango. Life’s mystery and paradox is everywhere you look, not least in mathematics and physics. The nature of reality is weirder than we first think. It is impossible, for example, to predict the behaviour of a single electron or proton in any atom of your body. The probabilities of its behaviour may be calculable, but nothing is certain—not even whether that particle will exist a nanosecond later.
What seems to be real often isn’t, and the opposite is true. Physician and philosopher Albert Sweitzer said of life: “As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.” Even matter, the very stuff of the Universe, cannot be defined. As the early twentieth-century British physicist, Sir Arthur Eddington, put it, “Matter is mostly ghostly empty space”. To be more precise, it is 99.9999999% empty space. With the development of quantum theory, physicists have found that even subatomic particles are far from solid. In fact, they are nothing like matter as we know it. They cannot be pinned down and measured precisely. Much of the time they seem more like waves than particles. They are like fuzzy clouds of potential existence, with no definite location. Whatever matter is, it has little, if any, substance.
Einstein said that “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”

Why on earth should we get all hot and bothered about mystery? It is surely a positive experience, not just a negative state of incomprehension. If there was nothing to find out about, life would be meaningless.
So who gets it more right? The logician or the mystic? Perhaps we need to make the ascent with a foot in both camps, like the somewhat schizophrenic Picasso painting that has one eye firmly fixed on reality and the other looking for it.
The thrill of life is that you can’t wrap it up in a certain package and label it “The Truth, The Journey’s End, The Way to Enlightenment”. You can’t quote a single parable in the Bible, or, The Origin of the Species and assume that you have found the answer to all of your life and everyone else’s problems right here, right now.
If we’re truly wise, we need to be open to unlearning what we think we know in the light of new revelations. One thing is true only in relation to another. This is not to say that truth can’t be heard. But the truth will only make sense as it is revealed, bit by glorious bit, in the context of our own life.
Before you can pay homage to something bigger than yourself, you have to be able to admit that there is something bigger! If you’re the centre of your own universe, habituated to being in control, the idea of relocating your centre of gravity from ego to soul might be too much for you. If ‘following’ for you means complying or taking orders, then you may have a hard job with the realization that real learning, the kind that transforms, often comes from your ability to surrender your sense of personal supremacy at the top of the chain of command, admit your limitations, let go and let God-albeit a God that is ultimately Mysterious.

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