I have just returned from Greece, where we had a marvelous time touring the country and visiting many sacred and ancient sites. We were blessed to have a knowledgeable guide (Lily) who also was sympathetic to our interests. Once she learned that our group had metaphysical and spiritual leanings, she emphasized the ancient stories and rites, as well as discussing history and architecture.
At one point she shared with me how freeing it was to be able to talk about such things openly to a group. Most tour groups, she told me, only want to understand the how and why of the sites. They want to know how an ancient culture could build such massive structures and what the purpose was for the various buildings. Most of that information is simply unknown, but everyone seems to have a theory or a speculation, often stated as if it were a known fact.
Lily then said something which was perhaps my most profound learning of the trip. She said, "I don’t really need to understand the mystery of these places. I would rather live the mystery."
I have traveled to many sacred sites. I have stood in awe at the pyramids of Egypt, marveled at the beauty of Machu Picchu and been lost in the wonder of many Mayan ruins. And, I agree with Lily. I would much prefer to live the mystery than to understand it.
On a recent trip to the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, I made the mistake of traveling in a group of "normal" people. I felt like an alien from Mars who was going around trying to feel energy while the rest of the group speculated on architecture and history. (It was a very good reminder to me of why I love to travel with other spiritual seekers.)
Our society trains us to ask why and how questions. It is the scientific method, I suppose, that has been drilled into us since we were small. Still, some things seem to me to be better unknown. There is something humbling and spiritual about merely being in the mystery, without making up a story line.
I find myself being one of the story line makers, however. Not, of course, so much in line of the engineering of a site, but rather in the way of: "What past lives did I live here?" Or, perhaps, "Did aliens really help to move these huge blocks of stone?" Or even, "Is that a portal I see up there in the stone face?" Ah yes, I am just as guilty as everyone else in wanting to understand and thus feel in control.
One of my favorite Zen sayings is a line that goes something like this: "The Tao you can understand is not the true Tao." How true that is. I think I am fairly bright, but any God I could understand would be way too small to be worshipped.
Some things are not meant to be fully understood. Things like God, and ancient ruins and love, for example. The very things that make living on this planet worthwhile.
I think that is at least part of why I travel. It takes me away from my environment where I can fool myself into thinking I understand and control things. It puts me in a spot where I can stop trying to understand the mystery and start living it.