By Hadi Beyrouti
They seem so real, our ideas and opinions about life—a vast force pulling our entire sense of reality into the domain of intellectual and emotional knowledge. The mind loses its openness and ends up imprisoned in itself. Cycles of thoughts creating one reality after another. We look at things and believe that our description of them is more real than the immediacy of our perceptions. The knowledge of words and thoughts becomes the world we live in, and we forget the ineffable and infinite mystery—even though it shines with absolute clarity, here and now.
Transfiguration is opening to this mystery and seeing the Truth. It’s shedding the layers of the known to reveal the reality behind what we seem to be seeing.
Illusion starts with one thought, one word. One word that we take to be more real than the direct experience of what is in front of us. As long as we think that our thoughts and ideas about life are more real than life itself, we are caught in a web.
But if our thoughts, descriptions, language, and opinions are not reality, what is? And how do we clearly see the Truth that shines in all things around us, in us, and as us?
In Ascent of Mount Carmel, Saint John of the Cross writes:
“To come to the knowledge you have not
you must go by a way in which you know not.”
To come to know the Truth beyond the mind, we must become comfortable with not knowing and be humble enough to admit to ourselves that we don’t know. This is a way of opening to the unknown, the mystery of being.
The mind is addicted to knowledge: knowing how to do things, what things are, putting everything in the right intellectual box, and having it all under control. Spiritually speaking, this is a significant obstacle, and many seekers fall into its trap. We may receive spiritual teachings and put them into the box of the mind. We take the teachings to be more real than the ineffable reality of Now. We may become dogmatic by attaching to ideas and subtle judgments towards those who see things differently, even if this is not what the teachings intend. Even if the teachings clearly say they are only pointers to the silent unity that lies beneath them.
Spiritual teachings are a way of redirecting attention and pointing to the ineffable and vast reality that is the Present Moment. The mystery that we are. And, as St. John of the Cross wrote, that Truth is revealed when we pass the gates of the unknown. When we allow ourselves not to know and, remaining there, hold that interest and curiosity with our entire being.
This way of looking is the beginning of transfiguration. We start looking at what we see not as what our mind says it is, not as the description and idea that sticks in us, but as the highest mystery. We allow something profound in us to look out through our eyes, a place within that is an abyss of silence. A looking without language, without words. A looking from a place so profound that the mystery unveils itself from within.
Transfiguration is about ourselves. We let all the ideas we have about ourselves dissolve for a moment so that we can look within and be in the Unknown without trying to know…
Being the Unknown.