Ancient Ruins & the Resonance of Mystery

By January 10, 20172016, Asia

The ancient ruins of Sukhothai

Staring out at the ruins of ancient Sukhothai, the hot sun stretches down, aggressively upon my back and upon the ancient flats of brick. My mind stretches down, aggressively upon the question of what this place is to me.

The mystery of these ruins taught me something important: the idea of deep history in foreign lands.

In that moment, I understood the metaphor and the symbolic significance of these ruins for me. They were a reminder and a good representation for the unknown unknowns with my worldview and the limited vantage point of my consciousness. They spoke of a knowledge that is not only hidden within the depth of history but also expanded away by the width of the world.

I suppose that’s what I see the goal of philosophy to be: to seek both a deeper and a wider understanding.

In his apologetical work Pensees, Blaise Pascal once wrote that there are two kinds of intellect. One, the precise intellect: “able to penetrate acutely and deeply into the conclusions of a given premise”, the other, the mathematical intellect: “able to comprehend a great number of premises without confusing them”. In summary he wrote that “the intellect can be strong and narrow, and can also be comprehensive and weak”.

The mystery of Sukhothai for me then, has a resonance harmonious to my heart. An ancient and ruined echoing and a calling, to come closer, and deeper, and more into wisdom and into reality. This is the aim of my heart and the goal I went into the Asia trip with: to discover how the widening of my worldview would deepen my worldview.

As I wander through these structures of the unknown, both in my mind and through the park, I’m searching around for photos which have poetic potential.

I scan around and as I widen the view of my lens the image is caught between a frame of a giant tree on the one side and a large stone chedi on the other.

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Two temples. One, a pillar of nature, of God’s intentionality and design within creation. The other, a relic of humanity’s attempt to access God, to access deeper reality. One, the immanence of God. The other, the transcendence. One is reaching up to God and the other down to man and it reminds me, of the importance of those hands meeting.

The space between them reminds me of the dislocation between man and God or between man and a greater reality, and it’s interesting to me, how much this dislocation marks our lives. We’re always seeking and searching and I find, in the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai, an equivalent ruins within me.

A ruins, which represents my philosophy, my searching for a greater reality… because… the tree is already right in front of me. God has reached down and created. He is immanent. And I learn that appreciating the moment and the presence of immanency is just as important as the attempt to seek and search for transcendence within reality. And, through and through, moment by moment, this is what the Asia trip has instilled in me and taught me.

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