We approach the Divine by enlarging our souls and lighting up our brains. To expedite those two things may be the mission of our existence.
– Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All
You can have your rocket scientists and space engineers. Take away your research directors in all your Ivy League schools. Poo on your spelunkers who crawl through mountains and caves and archaeologists who go to the ends of the earth to dig up old human artifacts. To all your PhD candidates, laboratory technologists, students of economics, nuclear bombs, climate change, relationships and the sex habits of wildebeests, I say, “Balderdash.”
If you are indeed looking for the human who is most into discovery, overwhelmingly into new things and fresh possibilities… If you truly want to meet a human who is totally dedicated to uncovering, unearthing, unveiling… dedicated and committed to breakthroughs, findings and epiphanies as if their very life depended upon it, then you only have to meet a baby. A child. From birth to about 4-5 years old. These are the most thorough and meticulous discoverers on the planet. And indeed, their very life does depend on it.
Other than eating, sleeping and filling their diapers, babies and toddlers are totally involved in detecting elements of their surroundings and what it means to be alive. You won’t find them in weekend workshops or sitting at the feet of some Ananda character. They won’t be present for any vision quests or silent retreats – especially not the silent part. All these rascally voracious devourers of life – doesn’t everything go in their mouths? – are interested in is: What’s this? And what’s that? And how does this work? And what happens if it goes in the toilet? And how does it taste? Can I whap it on my sister’s head? Will it tumble down the stairs? How long can I stay awake? How early can get up? And on and on. The research never ends for a child. And maybe that’s what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Unless you become like a child, you’ll never see the kingdom of heaven.”
Then, school. And all of a sudden there are other people telling you what to discover and how to do it. And you better sit quietly and follow instructions while you’re doing it. Or else. And little by little, the lesson sinks in: unless you learn the way we want you to learn, you’ll be a failure in this world.
But there are some humans among us who, despite school, continue discovering for themselves – continue coming up with one epiphany after another. As Mark Twain said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” The uncovering, unearthing and unveiling might come through reading. Might come through travel. Might come through friendships or family or sometimes the absence of friends or family. Emptiness and loneliness can unlock all kinds of treasure chests. Discovery doesn’t always come with a walk in the park on a summer day.
The good news is: you’ll never ever, ever, ever know it all. There is always more. We live in an infinite universe and are gifted with infinite possibility. And to fail to take advantage of that gift is to, perhaps, miss the boat and find yourself at the end of this adventure up the creek with no paddle. It may well be that our mission in life – the way we approach the Divine – is by enlarging our souls and lighting up our brains. Which is precisely what happens when we spend our days not just earning a buck or following the rules, but by uncovering, unearthing and unveiling – stumbling upon epiphany after epiphany and thereby opening ourselves to the ecstatic and often terrifying wonder to actually see and touch the kingdom of heaven.