Stories: Three Epiphanies
By David Sunfellow
1. When I was young (in my late teens) I realized that most people believe what they are told by their parents, religion, culture; they do not question authority or ask, deeply, where the ideas and practices that shape their lives come from, or how valid they are. They also seek, often ferociously, to silence others who dare to question and/or live outside the status quo. This realization led me to question everything I had been taught, to discover how wildly mistaken many of my/our core beliefs are, and to pay special attention to people, ideas, and practices that the culture at large ostracized.
2. After decades of questioning/exploring a wide variety of conventional and alternative perspectives, it became clear to me that I would not be able to unravel life’s fundamental mysteries on my own. I did not possess enough time and resources to investigate everything, nor was I intelligent enough to fully understand many of the areas I did explore. I also became deeply conscious of how my personality, my imperfections, my cultural conditioning, even my genetics and biology hampered, biased, and polluted all my efforts, both inwardly and outwardly. This led me to conclude that the only way myself and others could ever hope to solve life’s fundamental mysteries was by pooling our resources: people, from all over the world, with different strengths and abilities, from different cultures and belief systems, would need to join forces in a sincere search for the truth. This is what gave birth to NHNE.
3. After years of comparing notes and life experiences with large numbers of people, it became clear to me that no one on the planet possessed all the answers — no one religion, no one philosophy, no one master or guru, at any time in human history, past or present, possessed the whole truth. In spite of what humankind’s most illustrious champions might proclaim, or how loudly humankind’s religious and philosophical traditions declared that they, above all others, had a corner on ultimate truth, I discovered no one did. I also began to suspect that no one could know the whole truth for two simple reasons: 1. We, as a species, were simply too young and undeveloped to fully comprehend the depth, breadth, and ultimate purpose of life; 2. Evolution was moving at such breakneck speeds, in such unexpectedly dramatic directions, that no one, including our brightest scientists and most inspired mystics, could accurately predict where it was taking us.
Of these three epiphanies, the third one has been the most important one for me. It has helped me surrender the idea that any of us, in our current primitive, tiny-minded, excessively frail and limited homo sapien form, is going to figure out what life is really about in the foreseeable future. Instead of seeking the final big answer, I could instead focus on enjoying the journey and contributing to the adventure. My seeking wouldn’t stop, but the desperate need to know, which was driven in part by a belief that I/we could find the answers now, was quieted. So, too, was the hope of finding anyone, past or present, who knew all the answers.
It also occurred to me that if humanity as a whole adopted this perspective, most wars would end overnight. Instead of clinging to the childish idea that we, or our particular masters, teachers, traditions, cultures, are perfect, we would realize that all humans beings, as well as all systems of thought and belief, are, at best, only partially correct. This, in turn, would help us realize that we need the input of others who see things from different vantage points to create a truly whole picture.