Oh, the experience of deep-down wonderment! Oh that refreshing shock that you sometimes get on psychedelics or in childhood that everything is interesting and that the mystery of things (and of being generally) is fathomless. And then, almost always, comes the additional meta-wonderment, the realization that the “I” beholding the Mystery also grows out of it. The enjoyer is a polyp that grows out of the Mystery and then bends down to look at it from “above”—from a position of spatial (and temporal) synopsis. The observer is a bubble, floating on top of a bottomless ocean of mystery, yet made out of its goo.
Wonderment puts things (all things) in perspective and elicits gratitude that there is enough local material coherence here (your body) and in the local environment (your life support system) for a puzzled and grateful “I” to emerge. There are lots of eddies and watermills in the stream, but only some of them can stare slack-jawed back at the Nature that births them.
Genuine wonder is a Queen of Tonics … if you can get to it.
Now, is it possible to invoke genuine wonder on demand? Of all emotions, wonderment is surely the least likely to be conjured at will. In fact, it is by nature contrary to design. It is an essential feature of wonderment that its object not be derivable from our prevailing axioms (the ones that undergird our acts of perception, expectation, and prediction). Like the Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospel of Thomas, the giddy salvation of wonderment does not come with expectation:
His disciples said to Him, “When will the Kingdom come?” [Jesus said,] “It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is.’ Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.”
Let’s try this out anyway …
Go into a trance, right now, of wonderment.
Consider that wonderment is your greatest asset.
Consider how, at the moment of your death, of all subjective orientations, your wonder will probably be the longest lasting, and may in fact last into the moment of death. In fact, it may be the case that all of subjective action may fall away except wonder. (This seems to be the case with America’s current Jesus Christ, Steve Jobs, whose famous acid trip and famous wonder-filled last words have done more to rehabilitate LSD and intentional dying than everything Leary and Sogyal Rinpoche ever said, did, or wrote.)
Consider that wonderment is the thing you are secretly most proud of, and that it is the thing pushes your deepest drives. (From an evolutionary psychological POV, this makes sense. Alertness always has an agenda. The agenda is navigation of the organism into pro-survival sex, pleasure, power, safety, genetic proliferation, and spacetime colonization. The agenda for language-enabled animals is to determine the local material state of affairs, to colonize time, and to preempt surprise. Wonder is the diffused state of language and forebrain, staring at the current state of affairs and apprehending that its underlying nature and causes can never be fathomed.)
Finally, consider that gratitude is built into wonder—and indeed into every state .