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Mystery, contemplation, delirium, incomprehension, rapture, and idiocy: a modern catechism

excerpted from IN AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas



As if caught in a blessed vacuum of incomprehension, I had fallen helplessly into the infinite mystery where even God did not know himself. I was cleansed in a deluge of hallowed disremembrance, and had the stupor of Noah after the flood; the world was swept pure and clean of taint. Every last speck of the man I was, or had been, was no longer; every idea of truth, every reason, want and torture- everything was done. I was done. But thatís what death is anyways- you begin again. Whatís gone is gone.

                I finally recovered enough of my senses to return to the functional delirium of facts and figures, and as such I made my way home that evening. And I slept that night like a new man who didnít know what it meant to be new, nor what it meant to be a man, nor what it meant to be, and when I awoke the next morning all I could think of was returning to the splendid magnitude of that wonder.

                I now return as often as possible to that zone of unbound grandeur, to the foundation of this exasperating, inexplicable world. Sometimes I can forget entirely where I was, where I am, where I am headed, and forget everything that has gone before me, everyone I have ever met, and even myself. I forget it all and float off into the reverie of the untethered spirit, with neither anchor nor meaning to hold me to the ground.

                And yet I have never fully returned to the height of that initial insurrection. I have never since that evening been allotted the power of that staggering vision of the immanent mystery which we are. To be sure, at quiet times, when I am oblivious and empty and have settled back into the source of my soul, I can still walk part of the way back down that blessed tunnel; I can, for brief moments, re-experience the benediction of that bewildering night when divine ignorance swept me clean of all that was and is and gave me wings to forge on through the densely knotted morass of mankindís misconceptions, but I have never come undone like I came undone that night. I suppose that this is the way it must be, for were I to have continued in that state of rapture and idiocy and not come out of it, I would surely be locked up in a loony-bin and eating baby food through a straw. I say this without exaggeration; for the human life, the way we live it, cannot sustain these types of ecstasies for any great duration; not, that is, until we are done with our work on this tepid and sluggardly plane, and have returned again to the liquid fire and bounty of our ethereal homes, which is a dream I carry with me- that when I am done with the labors of this life I may be privileged and capable enough to fall away from all of it again and to return without ending to the living core of the eternal, implausible, wonderful, mysterious self.

                Until then, however, I have no reasonable explanation why life is the way it is. I know only that in that inaugural, tempestuous night of absolute astonishment- when suddenly I could not believe that I existed- I know that this event was Godís first conscious glimpse of being incarnated as Öme. Who? Me? Who is this me? How could this be? What is this that I am? I do not know and yet I know it was God struggling to believe within me.

                Writing all this down reminds me of a dream I had when I was eight years old in which I fell out of a boat into the water and the Devil grabbed my foot and pulled me under so as to capture me. But as I was descending I suddenly transformed into a little infant, and the Devil looked at me, and because I was only a child, he had to release me.

                I suppose that my later experience of profound wonder and of childlike innocence of mind, as it were, some twenty years further on, was the fulfillment of that dream, for I was made free from being held captive in the manifest the moment I became ignorant and did not understand what this life is about, why it is, or what I am which is it.

                I have related these events quite a few times to others, in an effort to share the effect of these experiences upon me. But then I wonder, why am I trying to convince others of the profound lostness of incomprehension that is so debilitating within me? Am I suggesting that one ought to willingly learn how to not know? Should I seek to condemn others to these outlandish confines I must exist within simply to experience myself? Do I seek simply to establish a city-state of wonder, inside an oligarchy of despotic facts? What is to be accomplished by confronting such debilitating unfathomableness?  Have I, because of its mildly euphoric qualities, forever banished myself into my own polished stupidity? What is the use if I am merely claiming, vehemently, to not know what is not knowable? Have I been hyperventilating petty truisms? Flatulating ontologies? Have I sought only to parade the mind's inadequacies? Am I merely claiming all others truant from the gymnasium of contemplation? Am I but a weak man flagrantly bragging about having found the strength to bear weakness? Or am I the only fool who sees through unmystery into mystery? Have I legitimately witnessed the unimaginable event of being? Or have I been deceived by the intensity of a false experience? Was I simply soaring over a great abyss and mistaking it for height? Am I but a dwindling salmon, instinctually bursting with its own continuance, yet tragically fighting its way up the wrong river? Must one simply be cured of the mind? A spider extricated from its own binding web? And do I attempt to continue not-knowing because of such pleasant, profound absorption? Have I set myself adrift on the dubious raft of doubt so as to escape an inhospitable certitude? Have I simply exaggerated my confusion by assuming a possibility of clarity? Have I improvised a certainty out of everything that I am claiming to doubt? Have I embraced nothing from this world except the disorienting effects of my own confusion? Has the ability to enter into a perspective which cannot conceive itself become my way of avoiding knowing, however erroneous? Am I more comfortable being thoroughly baffled than being wrong? Has not‑knowing become my latest justification for the anguish associated with interpretation? Why is it that I struggle towards the intense lucidity of nescience? Have I invented my own ignorance to cloud over an unbearable event- being? Do I merely hope to consecrate these unavoidable misunderstandings into a more practical, soothing obliviousness? Have I concluded it all unfathomable, rather than it being quite fathomable, and I am simply unable to fathom it? Has the incredible impact of not knowing deceived me into abandoning myself to it and it alone, and then never seeking a possible knowing? Has ignorance become my latest defense, absolving me from confronting unavoidable perspectives? Have I been deliberately confusing myself, intentionally focusing upon what I am definitely not capable of perceiving, so that I would not have to acknowledge what I can see? Is non‑understanding an honest outcome of contemplation, or merely a defendable subterfuge‑ a hideout from the known? Should one cease to be astounded by the astounding? Should one go further than astoundedness? Should one even lose lostness? Does wonderment itself eventually stand in the way, and it too must be cast aside? Is rapture the wet nurse of a growing temerity? Has awe become my latest addiction? Have I been forever trying to feel at home in this world, most recently within the foreignness of incomprehension? Must I abort everything; capitulate into total, irredeemable possibility? And ...and will that be faith?


excerpted from:


author Jack Haas, west coast British Columbia wilderness, ocean forest island



IN AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey

by Jack Haas



















Mystical books, visionary art, and fine art photography by Jack Haas




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