The Enigma of Consciousness 12a - Wonder - Part B

Curriculum Focus

What is Reality
The Awesome XX
Foundation of Freedom
Recreational Silence
Awe States


Marshall, Gene, The Enigma of Consciousness, Realistic Living Press, Bonham, TX, 2012. Chapter 12

The Thought, Feel, and Choice of Wonder

Ancient sages of the Orient found paths beyond the Yang of thought and the Yin of feeling into the Way of Wonder. In Sub-Asia, Hindu and Buddhist seers found methods of concentration that opened enlightenment beyond blinding thought, joy beyond reactive feelings, and liberation beyond fated compulsions. In the West great minds focused on Great Thoughts that carried consciousness beyond the customs of foolishness into experiences of Great Feels and Great Resolves that together with Great Thoughts witnessed to a landscape of Wonder.

Wonder is another word for awe and the numinous. Wonder lights up thought with new vigor. Wonder cleans feelings of their exaggerated sentiment. Wonder interrupts compulsive behaviors and restores us to the paths of freedom, effectiveness, and persistence. Wonder is a hard experience to talk about, but that has not prevented every era of humans from trying.

The Direct Experience of Wonder

Though Wonder is unknowable to the human mind, Wonder can be directly experienced by human consciousness. In this sense we can know Wonder. If this sort of knowing were not possible, then the word Wonder would be meaningless. Some have concluded that the word Wonder is meaningless, and, therefore, they no longer use this word or any word like it Divine, Sacred, or Holy. But this attitude undercuts our appreciation of the role of religion in human life namely, the role of binding or connecting humans to the Landscape of Mystery, a River of Enigmatic Consciousness, a Mountain of Compassion, and a Wild Sea or Ocean of Courageous Tranquility. It takes poetry and imagination to speak of Wonder. And it takes courage, for the ordinary thinking of humanity resists Wonders irrationality, its disturbing subversiveness, and its revolutionary implications.

Nevertheless, every human is very close to Wonder, for it is our true nature. Humans, in their essence, are already connected to the Wonder. Good religion assists us toward happenings of awakened awareness of our connection with the Wonder that has been buried, suppressed, fought, ignored, denied, and unwelcomed by our ordinary states of consciousness.

Good religion appears in human life because Wonder is an inescapable human experience. Even though most people spend their entire lives escaping from Wonder, there is no escape. Human consciousness could as easily escape heart and brain as Wonder, for human consciousness is rooted in Wonder So, like a persistent blood hound, Wonder tracks us down and forces us to see its teeth. Wonder is Real, more real than we, in our attempts to escape, can even imagine.

At the same time, this inescapable Wonder is beyond conceptual expression. So how do we even begin to talk about it as an everyday experience in our lives One very old answer is, We dont talk about it. One of the ancient Taoist writers put it this way: Those who say dont know, and those who know dont say. The prophets of Israel on the other hand, felt free to say, Thus says the Eternal Authority, and then wax on for 45 verses, hoping that at some point in their discourse the Wonder behind their speaking would break through to some captivated listener. But even these wordy prophets knew that what they were saying was an interpretation of experiences that were unsayable. There are many biblical verses that basically say, The Ways of Yahweh are beyond finding out, Jesus also insisted on being cryptic. He spoke in parables and explained that he did so in order that the know-it-all religious experts would not understand what he was saying. I take this to mean that he required of his hearers a deep shift in their lives in order to grasp what his parables were pointing to. We see a similar sensibility in Zen Buddhist teachers when they use what they call koans. A koan is a cryptic or nonsense statement that requires a deep shift in the students consciousness in order for the koan to have meaning. A famous example is Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand In seeking an answer, the student must reach beyond his standard mind into deeper awareness.

Reflection Questions

What are the words or phrases that caught your attention in this section

What is your understanding of wonder as presented in this material

Where have you been delivered beyond thought, feelings, and compulsions into an experience of the freedom of wonder

How do you experience wonder as your true nature

How do you find yourself attempting to escape wonder

What is the deep shift in consciousness that is required of us if we are to learn to talk about that which cannot be talked about in our moment in history

How do you personally practice staying connected to an awe state What are the practices that you use to sustain a connection to a state of awe

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