Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Inexhaustibility
When Nothing Becomes Anything
We can have endless, amazing understanding in this absolute essence of Being; we can describe some of its qualities; but we never feel we have described it because it is inexhaustible. It is the source of all qualities, all possibilities, and all potential; but when we experience it directly we find absolutely nothing. It is a delightful nothing that dazzles and releases. In other words, it is the unmanifest source of all manifestation. From this source, everything appears as itself, originating from this unfathomable emptiness, but nothing becomes anything.
The Point of Existence, pg. 424
The Nature of this Inexhaustible Vastness Allows no Final or Definitive Knowledge
I experience the absolute as both knowable and unknowable. I can plumb its depths, and gain a great deal of experience and insight. I can describe what I experience in increasing detail, with more and more precision. But it is clear that the nature of this inexhaustible vastness allows no final or definitive knowledge. The absolute is knowable in that we can become aware of it; many poets and spiritual masters spent their lives talking and writing about it. It is unknowable in that our knowledge is endless and cannot be final. Its nature is indeterminable because it is inexhaustible. The knowledge of the absolute always involves the revelations of the process of contemplating it, of experiencing it ever more deeply and clearly. It always involves a contemplating consciousness. The absolute is not absolutely alone. When there is no longer a contemplating consciousness, then there is no reflection on the absolute; there is only being it. Then there is no content that can be pointed to. In other words, no fixed position or final conclusion can be taken regarding the absolute. To fully apprehend it is to know it as mystery.
Luminous Night's Journey, pg. 118
There is Always Realization After any Realization
Our potential is infinite, inexhaustible; hence there is always realization after any realization. You’ll have all kinds of experiences, states, and conditions that may feel like an ultimate state of realization, but then that too keeps changing. The moment you say this is it, you will get stuck with a concept, and tomorrow there will be something else to be realized. So the true state of realization is actually a lack of attachment to realization. When you are really autonomous, you are truly mature. You don’t need boats; you don’t need to think even that you don’t need boats. You don’t need to think you are enlightened. If you need to think that you are enlightened, you still need a boat. To be a truly mature human being, you don’t need to think anything about where you are. Enlightenment is an idea that was created because people forgot how to be themselves. If human beings never forgot their original state, there would be no idea of enlightenment. No one would know there was anything like that.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 78
You can Never Exhaust What You can say About the Mystery of Being
I think this is a very clever and subtle way of understanding the indeterminacy of the essence of our Being. However, the adventure of inquiry is based on a slightly different perspective on the mystery. Some would say that you cannot say anything about the mystery because whatever you say is going to be inaccurate, and therefore it is better not to say anything. The perspective I prefer is that the essence of Being is amenable to descriptions. You can actually say a great deal about it, just as the mystical poets have been doing for thousands of years. You can say it is emptiness, you can say it is mystery, you can say it is stillness, you can say it is peace, you can say it is neither existence nor nonexistence, you can say it is the ultimate beloved, you can say it is the annihilation of all ego, you can say it is the source of all awareness, you can say it is the ground of everything, you can say it is our true identity, you can say it is dimensionless nonlocality, and so on. Each one of these descriptions is saying something about it. Thus the mystery of Being can be seen as having two different implications. I believe the more fruitful one is not that there is nothing you can say about it, but that you can never exhaust what you can say about it. We can describe it and talk about it forever. So instead of calling it indeterminacy, I think a better word is inexhaustibility: The mystery is characterized by the fact that it is inexhaustible. You can never know it totally.