We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. (TS Eliot)
Notice the ambiguity in this poem? (1) we shall not cease exploring (2( at the end of exploring. (1) arrive where you started (2) see what you have already seen for the first time.
Let’s pull this cotton ball apart. To see my wife, my house, my pets, and even me for the first time means that I have finally dropped the filter of the known, the lens of memory that gives me a view through the rearview mirror. I see the present moment referenced to the past and what I have defined as my world.
There is the view through the front window and the view through the rearview mirror. The rearview mirror cannot be removed because I need it in order to live in a consistent world. Otherwise, I would be like Alzheimer’s, forgetting who and what the world is after I read it. So obviously, we need the rearview mirror in order to catch a bus. But if all we have is the rearview mirror, we drive into a ditch.
So we need the known (rearview mirror) and the front window (the unknown) Why is the front window the unknown? We have never driven in this moment before. But as long as we are looking in the rearview mirror, we believe we have been here before. It is the known.
Enlightenment is ambiguous. You drive with both the Known and the Unknown at the same time. But here’s the trick. One of the views must be primary and the other secondary. Our culture makes the Known of the rearview mirror primary, the only view.
But we know the front windshield must be our view of the road, but we cannot use it since all we believe in is the known. We then project the Unknown present moment road into the future and drive towards it, the pot of gold over the horizon, but we never reach it because all we can see is where we have been.
Obviously, the problem is that our materialistic culture seeking the security of the known sees everything through the lens of its logic and stored knowledge. The spiritual path is discovering that our primary view or way of knowing is the front windshield and that the rearview mirror is secondary, useful for catching a bus, but not for know who and where you are.
Seeing where you are for the first time is creativity, the way of creativity. When we can hold the known and the unknown together without reacting, without resistance to the ambiguity, the Creative Knowing leaps forth, and you see for the first time. The Known becomes transparent to the new.
If you want to know what the rearview mirror feels like, it feels like resistance. It feels like “THIS SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING.” When the road changes, we don’t say this road should not be happening. This is the only road we have. This is why we like to ride motorcycles. We have to dive on the road that is given. You have to be present, awake, aware, attentive or you die.
But in a car, most of the driving can be on autopilot of the known. Corona jerks us awake. The road is always fresh and unknown.