The Mystery of Mystery: Flight MH370

In an age when we are able to find the answers to seemingly endless questions with a simple click of a button, it seems almost impossible that we cannot find a missing aeroplane.

It has now been almost three weeks and we still do not know exactly where flight MH370 is, nor what happened to it, nor why it happened. We simply do not know. It remains – at least at present – a mystery.

And it is the existence of such a mystery in our time which is as much a mystery for us as anything else. How could we not know? With all of the technology at our disposal – with all the surveillance, satellite and other search technology in the world today – how could we not know where to find something that itself relies on such technologies in order to operate?

The central, though relatively unconscious, feeling that is expressed here is, simply, ‘We have the technology but we still do not know.’ Even if we do locate the plane, and unravel something of the story as to how and why this event happened, the fact that it has happened at all, and that the search for it has gone on as long as it has, means that this central question, now ‘out of the box,’ will remain: ‘We have the technology but how is it we still do not know?’

Of course, there are those who will argue that those with knowledge of the technology simply disabled it, or that if other, better, technology existed then we would avoid such occurrences in the future. Such comments rest upon the idea that if we had the technology – or better/more technology – then we would be fine – then we would know. Below this idea exists the assumption that ‘Technology will provide all the answers we are looking for.’ This assumption underpins not just the mystery around MH370, but many remaining unknowns in the world today.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, despite all the global technologies we have created up until this point in our evolution – despite all our surveillance and tracking systems – despite all the different internet search engines and all the information they uncover and make available through the sharing of data and research from all over the world – despite all of this and all our other technologies, still the fundamental questions of life are not sufficiently or adequately answered. Some of the most basic questions remain, despite this technology. Such questions include, but are not limited to: What is life? What is the human being? What is the meaning of life and of evolution? Where did we come from, really? Where are we going? What exists after death, and before birth? What did I/we come here to do? Where do thoughts come from? What is health? What is love? And so on.

We may be tempted to point to the patchwork of attempts to answer such questions, or ones like them, and say we have sufficiently dealt with them. Such answers, however, generally point only to material, physical activity and then extrapolate this activity over the whole of evolution, both into the past and the future. This is one-sided guesswork at best. At worst, it shapes all that we are now and into the future in a one-sided, incomplete, and therefore harmful way.

To look at life, nature, the human being, evolution, thinking, social creations, and anything else simply as physical phenomena, and to say we have thereby explained it, would be the same as eventually locating the physical wreckage of flight MH370, extrapolating its flight path and then saying ‘It flew from this point to this point and then crashed’; and that because we have this information we now know all there is to know about it. This would be an account of the physical journey it travelled. It would not be incorrect. And so why would we be dissatisfied with only this knowledge, with only this information?

We would be dissatisfied because there remains a part of us that seeks to know not simply ‘what,’ nor also ‘how,’ but, importantly, ‘why?’ Why? Why did this event happen? We seek to know not just the material facts, but also the why – we seek to know the story – the fact of the story. (Interestingly, the French for ‘what’ is ‘pourquoi,’ meaning literally ‘for what?’ That is, for what is the ‘what’ for? What is the physical fact for? What is the reason for, or story of, the material fact?)

And it is this same why-ness that is missing from our explanations of the fundamental questions of life. We do not know the why. We do not know the story. So why do we sometimes appear to feel satisfied with the one-sided, material answers to the above questions (and others like them) when we would not be satisfied with the same when it came to flight MH370?

In part, we seem to have inherited a feeling that it is possible to know the why – the story – of some things, and not of others – that for some things we cannot know why. But why is this? Where does this feeling come from?

It is a result of none other than the same material thinking that feels it has provided the answers to these questions, or is busy working on the answers at present. It is a thinking that has focussed down so much into the parts that it has lost sight of the whole. It may know the what – or part of it anyway – but it has lost the what for, the why, or even the how. It is this same thinking activity that says ‘Because this thinking activity does not provide the answer of how or why – does not provide the story of this or that phenomena – that no such why or story exists.’ This type of thinking is limited by its own activity. It is an intellectualism interested only in the parts, because its thinking activity is only partial.[1]

In looking at thinking and the human being, therefore, because it employs only a partial thinking, it sees only the partial human being, and only partial thinking activity. We thereby build a wall for ourselves, and say ‘We cannot know why – we cannot know the story – we do not have the facts.’

The idea of facts, too, rests upon this notion of materiality, and is linked also to a thinking tied to the purely material. (In a way, we can become mesmerised by ‘facts.’) And yet, the world conception or philosophy of materialism is not itself a material fact – it is nowhere to be found in the material, physical world. It is a concept. It is an idea (as is the notion of a ‘fact’), which, according to its own premises, is a result of electro-chemical reactions in the brain – a product of matter (though, for that matter, have we ever seen ‘matter?’). Why would something purely material, however, decide to create, out of its own physicality, a world conception? – why would it seek to contemplate its own consciousness? It would not. (Therefore, such a world conception does not stand up to its own premises.) Rather, an immaterial activity – thinking – has become so closely tied to the physical world – including the brain – that it has sought out and created a world conception to justify and explain its own experience and activity. It has created, on the level of the concept, an attempt at a kind of story, though it remains stuck in the what, and sometimes in the how, but does not reach the level of the why – of the what for? It is only a partial story, therefore, at best; at worst, it is a jumbled collection of unrecognisable symbols.[2]

In any case, despite everything, there still remains in us, however conscious, a desire to know the full story. The walls we place around our knowing of such a story are only self-made – a product of our time and place – and can be self-removed. On a more fundamental level we seek to know what the story of everything is, in the same way we seek to know the story – the why – of flight MH370. We hope that in finding the ‘black box’ flight recorder before the 30-day battery runs out that we will come to know this story and then be able, to some extent, to move on.

And yet, we do not recognise that there is a kind of ‘black box’ buried within everything – that it is possible to know the story of everything – if only we had the courage to look long and hard (or softly) enough, with the right, let us say, inner technology – with our whole thinking activity – with the whole story of the human being. The only difference between the black box of the flight recorder and all other phenomena is that for everything else the battery will never run out, because the source of its power can be found not merely in a product of the intellect alone,[3] but in the power that exists within the phenomenon as it reveals itself within our holistic thinking activity. That is, we ourselves must be creative in our thinking in order to come to know the why – the story – of anything. The story of the world, of life, of the human being, of anything, is therefore up to us.[4]

And so what else can the story of MH370 reveal? It has also revealed to us the way in which we can, despite hiccups, co-ordinate our activities across national and sectoral boundaries. Governments of different countries have been able to work with one another,[5] as well as with civil society groups and with businesses. There is a common goal, and they have been able to gradually dismantle existing societal walls (another product of walled-in thinking) in order to attempt to achieve something together. One could argue that this has been more successful than attempts so far made to deal with other common problems or issues including climate change, which has so far created solutions which have stalled at the national or regional level.[6] The goal has yet to be reached in either case, but greater global co-operation is taking place in the search for this missing plane. This itself is encouraging.

In one sense, therefore, we could say that, though we have thus far been unable to locate flight MH370 and all those on board, we have been able to begin to find one another. We have reached across national and other boundaries to find one another in order to achieve a goal beyond ourselves – beyond our own self-interests. We have found one another and in so doing found something of our own humanity – something of our own selves – by putting ourselves in service of such immaterial ideals connected to helping those in distress, helping our neighbours, helping our fellow human beings.  We have crossed walls in our own thinking and found one another and ourselves under the guiding stars of immaterial values and ideals (ones that purely material thinking activity would not lead not). In so doing we have connected to something of the deeper story of the human being and the earth.

In this sense, therefore, we can experience the presumed loss of life of those on board flight MH370 as a kind of tragic ‘reminder,’ or even ‘sacrifice,’ for the rest of us; the term is not so important, but an understanding of the why – the meaning – the story – of this event is. And part of its meaning appears to be that the apparent deaths of these individuals – all those souls who have apparently died on board this flight – have thus far served to remind the rest of us both of our inner necessity to know the greater meaning – the greater story, the why – in this case or in relation to any phenomenon, as well as provide the impetus for us to reach across social divides to find one another and something of ourselves as human beings through all the noble guiding values of humanity, out of love – out of selfless service and activity. And so we could say, therefore, that these two aspects – knowing the whole story, and selfless service out of love – are united on a deeper level of the mystery – of the story – of the evolution of the world and of the human being.


John Stubley

[1] Whoever has heard the purely materialistic explanation of love, for example, knows how removed such an explanation is from the actual experience of – or creation of – love, and therefore it cannot be considered as a complete explanation. (See, for example, No doubt such chemical activity takes place in the experience of love, thinking, creativity and so on, but such physical activity is the result of immaterial activity, not its cause. We have it backwards – have confused the effect with the cause – have, in the case of many phenomena, promoted the effect to the level of the cause, and therefore are left with only partial, incomplete stories – artifacts rather than art.

[2]To continue in this purely material direction would be to continue to guide the world and the human being towards a meaningless future destination as lonely and as desolate as the southern Indian Ocean.

[3]The battery is an extension of the intellect, as is the majority of all existing technology.

[4] Not in a merely subjective way, but in an objective-subjective way – in a lawful storytelling that crosses the walls we have thus far constructed around ourselves and the world.

[5] At present planes and ships from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Japan, China, and South Korea are being used in the search.

[6] Or worse, we also begin to fall victim to intellectual, material solutions to climate change such as geo-engineering.

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1 Response to The Mystery of Mystery: Flight MH370

  1. Ryan Sengara says:

    Thank you. The pourquoi observation in particular resonates as a theme.

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