To know you do not know
So, what will happen when you finally arrive. Get started and you will know; it cannot be described. It is said, “Those who know, do not say; those who say, do not know.” A teacher cannot give you the truth. Truth cannot be put into words or a formula. That isn’t the truth. That isn’t reality. Reality cannot be put into a formula. A teacher can only point out your errors. When you drop your errors, you will know the truth. And even then you cannot say. This is common teaching among the great mystics. The great Thomas Aquinas, toward the end of his life, wouldn’t write and wouldn’t talk; he had seen. It went on for years. He realized he had made a fool of himself, and he said so explicitly. It’s as if you had never tasted a green persimmion and you ask me, “What does it taste like?” I’d say to you, “Sour,” but in giving you a word, I’ve put you off the track. Most people aren’t very wise; they seize upon the word, the words of scripture, for example and they get it all wrong. “Sour,” I say, and you ask, “Sour like vinegar, sour like a lemon?” No, not sour like a lemon, but sour like a green persimmon. “But I never tasted one,” you say. Then you write a doctoral thesis on it. You wouldn’t have if you had tasted it. And then day you finally taste a green persimmon, you say, “I made a fool of myself. I shouldn’t have written that thesis.” That’s exactly what Thomas Aquinas did.
St. Thomas simply went silent. He wouldn’t talk. In the prologue of his Summa Theologica, which was the summary of all his theology, he says, “About God, we cannot say what He is but rather what He is not. And so we cannot speak about how He is but rather how He is not.” He also said, there are three ways of knowing God: (1) in the creation, (2) in God’s actions through history, and (3) the highest form of the knowledge of God—to know God tamquam ignotum (to know God as the unknown). The highest form of talking about the Trinity is to know that one does not know; to know God as unknowable. Reality, God, divinity, truth, love are unknowable; that means they cannot be comprehended by the thinking mind. We’re always living under the illusion that we know. We don’t. We can’t know.
Scripture is just a hint, a clue, not a description. Look at the damage one sincere believer will do because they think they know. The world would be so much better if everybody said, “I don’t know”?
A man born blind asks, “What is green?” How does one describe the color green to someone who was born blind? You use analogies. So you might say, “The color green is something like soft music.” “Oh,” he says, “like soft music.” “Yes, soothing and soft music.” So a second blind man asks, “What is the color green?” You tell him it’s something like soft satin, very soft and soothing to the touch. So the next day you notice that the two blind men are bashing each other over the head. One is saying, “It’s soft like music”; the other is saying, “It’s soft like satin.” And on it goes. Neither of them knows what they’re talking about, because if they did, they’d shut up. It’s even worse, because one day, say, you give sight to this blind man, and he’s sitting there in the garden and he’s looking all around him, and you say to him, “Well, now you know what the color green is.” And he answers, “That’s true. I heard some of it this morning!”
The fact is that you’re surrounded by God and you don’t see God, because you “know” about God. The final barrier to the vision of God is your God concept. You miss God because you think you know. That’s the terrible thing about religion. That’s what the gospels were saying, that religious people “knew,” so they got rid of Jesus. Remember, the highest knowledge of God is to know God as unknowable. There’s too little dropping of illusions, dropping of errors, dropping of attachments and cruelty, and too little awareness. That’s what the world is suffering from, not from a lack of religion. Religion is supposed to be about a lack of awareness, about of waking up, but look what we’ve degenerated to. We are killing one another over religion. You’ll find it everywhere. “The one who knows, does not say; the one who says, does not know.” All revelations are never any more than a finger pointing to the moon. As the saying goes, “When the sage points to the moon, all the idiot sees is the finger.”
It’s even worse than that, we use the finger to gouge each others eyes out. Awareness, awareness, awareness! In awareness is healing; in awareness is truth; in awareness is salvation; in awareness is spirituality; in awareness is growth; in awareness is love; in awareness is awakening.
When we look at a person, we really don’t see that person, we only think we do. What we’re seeing is something that we fixed in our mind. We get an impression and we hold on to that impression, and we keep looking at a person through that impression. And we do this with almost everything. If you understand that, you will understand the loveliness and
beauty of being aware of everything around you. Because reality is there; “God,” whatever that is, is there. It’s all there. Like the poor little fish in the ocean says, “Excuse me, I’m looking for the ocean. Can you tell me where I can find it?” We are pathetic. If we would just open our eyes and see, then we would understand.