The Call of the Unknown

By Doug Marman

Here is the talk that I gave in Toronto at the end of September. It is titled: The Call of the Unknown. You can see a video of this talk below.

In this talk I approach one of the most important elements that distinguishes a spiritual search from a typical search for knowledge. This is hardly ever talked about.

When we search for knowledge, we usually set out with a plan of some kind to learn about something that we already have some idea about. For example, we look for a book that can give us a better understanding of some era in history, or added insights into some field of science, or some pointers on how to find a job, how to paint, or how to raise children.

A spiritual search, however, is a search to gain something that is beyond our understanding. We don’t even know what it is that moves us or calls us to this search. We might think that we have an idea of the information that we would like to find, but the farther we follow the call of the unknown, the more it changes us. And we soon realize that we knew nothing about the real meaning of the spiritual path when we started.

This “not knowing” turns out to be more important than we realize because the things that we think we know are generally obstacles on the spiritual path.

The true spiritual search requires a completely different approach because it is a quest for something beyond us. It is a search to find out the real meaning of the spiritual path. There is no one who can give us the answer to what this meaning is. It can only be understood through experience. It is the search itself that changes us. It is the search itself that is the path.

This talk was set up by Farzad Khalvati and Mitra Shafaei of Toronto, as part of an ongoing series called The Hidden Teachings of Rumi.

Just before the talk, Farzad came up with the idea of projecting spiritual art and photos of nature on the screen behind me when I was talking. The images change as I give my talk.

I wanted to mention this because one of the surprising outcomes, that a number of people asked about afterwards, was how well the changes of these images seem to be synchronized to my talk. Surprisingly, there is no direct connection. I could not see the images on the screen behind me or when they were changing, and the images switched by a simple timing mechanism.

Why did so many people experience a connection? I don’t know. Perhaps the images on the screen, when they changed, changed the audience, and I unconsciously sensed this and changed what I was saying. Or perhaps when we see a change in the background, it changes our perspective on what is being said at that time, and since I was talking about changes in perspective, it seemed to be connected.

Rather than trying to guess at the explanation, I just point it out so that you might enjoy the mystery of it, if you find yourself experiencing this same feeling that there is a connection.

One thing that I’ve learned is that the spiritual path seems to bring about more of these events of synchronicity as we become more deeply entangled with life at a deeper level. Explaining it in order to understand it with our mind is not nearly as important as experiencing it and how the experience of synchronicity seems to wake us up to an awe of life itself.