Finding the Unchangeable
By: Oscar Nelson
After having a deep experience in a Float tank a few years ago I really started to look for answers to what I saw and what it meant. Among others, Nisargadatta Maharaj was one of the key voices to explain and guide me back to that expansive space. I want to take one of his quotes and consider it, talk about it, dissect it and see what comes out. Please add any thoughts to the Comment area, I would love for you to join the conversation. Here is the quote;
“Of the unknowable only silence talks. The mind can talk only of what it knows. If you diligently investigate the knowable, it dissolves and only the unknowable remains. But with the first flicker of imagination and interest the unknowable is obscured and the known comes to the forefront. The known, the changeable, is what you live with – the unchangeable is of no use to you. It is only when you are satiated with the changeable and long for the unchangeable, that you are ready for the turning round and stepping into what can be described, when seen from the level of the mind, as emptiness and darkness.” (Nisargadatta Maharaj)
This starts off with, ‘Of the unknowable only Silence talks.’ This can seem like a paradoxical statement but there is a depth here that has been hinted at by other Masters. Thomas Keating is quoted saying ‘Gods Language is Silence, and all the translations are bad.’ Even the Bible encourages us to ‘Be Still, and Know that I am God.’ So in Deep Silence there can be found wisdom.
‘The mind can talk only of what it knows.’ The old, the know, can be digested by the mind and projected out to the future or related to the past. The New, the unique and freshly emerging, has no basis in history. It is a Unique Unfolding from Nothingness. The mind can only regurgitate what it has digested, it cannot create from Nothing. This means the mind is no help to us in finding the Unknowable (or ‘God’, etc ).
‘If you diligently investigate the knowable, it dissolves and only the unknowable remains.’ Question and Doubt everything you know. Your name was gifted to you by someone else and your body taught to respond to the sound. You are not your name. You are not your body. If you are not your name, or your body; Who Are You? What is left is a Vast Unknowable, a ‘Cloud of Unknowing’ as it were between ‘You’ and ‘God’. But this Unknowable or ‘Don’t Know Mind’ is a space that can bring massive wisdom and regeneration to this quest of the Unchanging.
‘But with the first flicker of imagination and interest the unknowable is obscured and the known comes to the forefront.’ The mind is only limitation, it cannot hold the ‘All’ of everything. We must step past the mind to move into the Unchanging and Eternal. Even a whisper of movement of the mind distorts. It takes allowing and relaxation for the chatter to subside again, but resting and relinquishing are key steps to keep that Peace the Unchanging give us.
‘The known, the changeable, is what you live with – the unchangeable is of no use to you.’ In our day to day life we are on the surface of things, doing what we feel we must to get through life. We read the words but forget the blank page underneath so-to-speak. The body we find ourselves in will die someday, only meant to grow and then decay. The changeable is what life seems to give, but we came from the Unchangeable and will return there eventually. If we can find the Unchangeable and rest there, we are able to transcend death.
‘It is only when you are satiated with the changeable and long for the unchangeable that you are ready for the turning round and stepping into what can be described, when seen from the level of the mind, as emptiness and darkness.’ There comes a time when it is possible to see everything as bullshit in a way. I remember it popping to mind that everything I was taught or told had been given to the person telling me these things, by someone else who was told it by someone else. It dawned on my there was little original thought in what the World was telling me. It was all regurgitation of something on a human level. To transcend where we are we have to change our perspective. When you see that what will fade and go away is Illusion; that the ONLY thing worth finding and keeping is the Perception of Unity that can be found only by resting in the Unchangeable. That turning point, where there is a rejection of what Society has fed us to make us happy, is a shedding of obligation, of expectations of others and ourselves. That sense and knowing of being utterly ‘Full’ with nothing needed, but rest in the Infinite, is seen as lazy and unproductive from the level of the mind. That space of clarity and completion with a satisfaction of a strong desire can give a momentary feeling of this ‘Fullness’ or ‘Completion’ in the gap between thoughts. When the mind subsides after being satisfied (and endless task) the satisfaction that comes is from the enjoyment of just Being Alive, of ‘Awareness’ just resting. And as Nisargadatta says, ‘when seen from the level of the mind, as emptiness and darkness.’ This emptiness and darkness is a Vast Alive Nothingness behind everything. When we take the radical position that we are after what is Eternal, our whole life changes course. We can find Home Within.
I often feel Spirituality is akin to those Magic Eye art pieces that were popular in the ’90’s. At the surface level it is a blob of chaotic color and visual ‘noise’ (the mind); but when deeply seen, in a way outside of our day to day perception, a picture emerges where only chaos once was. This picture came from within the chaos with nothing other than an intention and change in perspective. And that is what I propose is needed, and intention to befriend the Unchangeable and an openness to seeing life from a new perspective.
To shift your perspective, spend time in the Unchangeable. For me, that is most easily done by trying to stay in ‘Don’t Know Mind’ or the ‘Cloud of Unknowing’ as much as I can. Formal Meditation for 10 minutes, twice a day is excellent; but know this can be done anytime during the day or work by just dropping out of the known and resting in the Unknown for a moment.
P.S. Please comment below on what you can do to get out of your mind and into the Unchangeable today.