The Answer to Every Question

On the extraordinary power of "both, neither, and far beyond either"

A friend told me the other day he doesn't resonate with non-duality because he can't agree that "everything is perfect and there are no problems."

He sees many pressing problems in the world and feels called to help solve them.

My reply to this is that it's not either/or, it's…

Both / neither / far beyond either.

On one level everything is perfect at all times and there are no problems.

On another level we've incarnated as humans in this layer of the Mystery, and part of this human experience is absolutely acknowledging the suffering and struggle here and assisting in remedying it.

Both can be true at once.

(So, if you feel called to help alleviate suffering on Earth, by all means help! Your impulse to help is part of the perfection!)

In another sense, neither is true: Both miss other side(s) of the coin; Both aren't complete; each statement has its limitations.

And going deeper still:

All language-based statements are utterly insufficient. The actuality of what this reality is, is infinitely beyond all definition or description.

The meta-question, “Which of these conceptual statements is true?,” is already rooted in an inaccurate assumption that the Mystery could ever be compressed, contained, or comprehended within the mental-conceptual apparatus implied by the question.

Thus: The true answer is far beyond either option—far beyond *any* sayable option. No language-based answer is possible.

Ayahuasca and Free Will

I began contemplating “both / neither / far beyond either” more deeply after an experience on ayahuasca.

In this experience, I had the apparent experience of speaking directly with Mystery / Source / Infinity / Tao / All.

I asked, “So do we have free will, or is it all predestined?”

The answer I received was:

“Both, neither, and far beyond either.”

This answer resonated more deeply with me than anything I’d ever heard on the subject.

For years I had intuited that somehow both free will and predestination were true, but the “neither, and far beyond either” aspect of the answer added some fresh spice and dimensionality.

I continued on with my life, letting this answer marinate for months, until one day it occurred to me…

What if “both / neither / far beyond either,” is the answer to every question?

The Answer to Every Question

I started applying this to more of the most notorious metaphysical conundrums of the ages, and what I began to see was gloriously elegant…


Does God exist or not exist?

Both, neither, and far beyond either.

God exists: “God” is another word for All / Mystery.

God does not exist: All images/concepts we associate with the word “God” are not accurate impressions of what Mystery, in actuality, is.

Neither is true: “God” and “existence” are synonyms so the question is redundant and nonsensical. Furthermore, “God” and “exist” are simply words/concepts that cannot contain reality.

Far beyond either: The dualistic, this-or-that, conceptual apparatus implied by the question, is hopelessly insufficient. Reality cannot be contained or comprehended within this structure, or within any linguistic-conceptual answer that could be provided.


Is the world of form real/true, or is the formless real/true?

Both, neither, and far beyond either.


Is it all One, or is it many?

Both, neither, and far beyond either.


Is all of reality me, or is none of it me?

Both, neither, and far beyond either.


Are heaven and hell real, or not?

Both, neither, and far beyond either.


Do time and space exist, or not?

Both, neither, and far beyond either.


Am I a good or bad person?

Both, neither, and far beyond either.


Is death real or not?

Both, neither, and far beyond either.


I could keep going on and on, and I could write up explanations for each one of these, though that is beyond my scope here.

I now see that answering the question, “In what sense are both true, neither true, and in what sense is the true answer far beyond either?”

Is one of the most illuminating exercises you could ever complete when faced with any sort of this-or-that question.

Extending Beyond This-or-That Questions

But the usefulness and profundity of this multi-dimensional ‘answer to every question’ does not stop at this-or-that questions.

We can logically extend the principle to discover how it would answer open-ended questions:

Open-ended question: What am I?

Answer: Every answer you can state is in some sense true, every answer you can state is in some sense false, and the true answer is far beyond anything you can state.

Let’s try this out:

I am… Life itself, my body-mind complex, tree, unicorn, everything, nothing, Gandhi, Jesus, Hitler, Stalin, pizza slice, dollar sign, refrigerator, otter, bong rip.

Every answer you can state is in some sense true: Yes, what you are, is the All-Mystery. Indeed, this contains everything to which your various answers point.

Every answer you can state is in some sense false: The All-Mystery is the “forever beyond.” What you truly are is forever beyond any apparent entity or definable object.

Far beyond anything you can state: The question itself implies a conceptual apparatus that is totally insufficient to contain reality. Any linguistic-conceptual answer must exist within this same apparatus, and would thus be hopelessly insufficient. Thus, no conceptual answer is possible. The true answer is far beyond concepts.


I would go as far as to say that if you can truly hold this paradoxical ‘answer to every question’ within your being, you’ve discovered a kind of enlightenment.

It seems to me that this answer could be applied to every possible open-ended question. And furthermore, it seems we can further extend this ‘answer to every question’ to conclude the following:

Every statement is in some sense true, every statement is in some sense false, and reality is always far beyond any statement about it. The dualistic, conceptual apparatus implied by a true-or-false framework is totally insufficient to contain reality.

I find this profoundly humbling and illuminating.

Why This is Not a Purely Relativistic, Impractical Dead-End

Some might be quick to say, “This is pure relativism! A totally impractical dead-end! One would never get anything done if one saw the world this way!”

I respectfully disagree.

First of all, a pragmatic approach to life will still compel one to respond, “5:30pm” to the question, “What time is our meeting?,” even if deep down one knows that the true answer is: Every answer I can state is in some sense true, every answer I can state is in some sense false, and no linguistic-conceptual answer is possible.

Second, seeing the truth of this will not change the lived-experience of being presently incarnated as a human with a certain set of drives, interests, values, relationships, and personality traits, all of which will continue to irresistibly compel one to ‘do one’s thing’ in the world.

Third, even if you accept that every statement is “in some sense true, in some sense false, and no linguistic-conceptual statement can contain reality”… this still leaves the door open for some statements to be in some sense ‘more true,’ or at least ‘more useful in this earthly realm,’ than others. For example, the answer “7” is a more true/useful answer to the question, “What is the square root of 49?,” than the answer, “Labradoodle.” We can still consider usefulness, predictive power, likelihood of resulting in universally-agreeable outcomes, and other factors, when assessing answers to questions.

Fourth, and this is key: Note that this ‘answer to every question’ relentlessly points at that which is beyond concepts.

This is easy to overlook, because we aren’t used to considering that which is beyond all concepts.

So, what exactly is beyond all concepts?







The nameless, non-conceptual Mystery of Being.

That in the Presence of Which All Questions Dissolve

Note that throughout this post, I’ve repeatedly underscored that no language-based answer to any question is possible. No conceptual answer is possible. These will always be inaccurate / limited, because the linguistic-conceptual apparatus itself is the fundamental limitation.

Similarly, when the Tao seemed to tell me on ayahuasca that the answer to my question was “far beyond either,” this could be viewed as a koan intended to indicate that the answer lied beyond what could be ‘mentally grasped,’ conceptualized, comprehended.

So… what if an answer to all questions actually IS possible, but it simply lies BEYOND all concepts—BEYOND anything that can be comprehended or grasped at the level of the thinking mind?

What if the FINAL answer to all questions is actually THAT in the presence of which all questions (and the questioner) DISSOLVE?

And what exactly is that in the presence of which all questions dissolve?







The nameless, non-conceptual Mystery of Being.

In other words…


Tat Tvam Asi, as the ancients said. Thou Art That.

Since time immemorial, sages and illumined masters have asserted that there is a self-verifying truth of reality, that can be discovered within direct experience.

Jesus Christ called it the “Kingdom of Heaven,” noting that we “must become like little children” in order to enter.

What do all very small children have in common?

They see Life without the veil of names, words, concepts.

For them, Life is just this continuous, indefinable Big Bang of wondrous, kaleidoscopic textures and flavors.

All I have to do is look into my newborn daughter Lila’s bright, wide, fathomless eyes as she gazes in astonishment at the simple play of light and shadow on a ceiling, to see the truth of this.

Imagine experiencing all of this for the first time, with absolutely zero memories or concepts.

Would you not be utterly BOWLED OVER by the miraculousness?

Wouldn’t THIS entire nameless EXPLOSION of light and sound and infinite subtle sensations, be self-evidently WAY beyond ANYTHING a mouth-noise could EVER hope to convey?

Of course!

The very idea of capturing THIS within a series of mouth-noises would be laughable. It wouldn’t occur to you at all.

You would simply be electrically subsumed in the oceanic _________, the All-Mystery, having not even any concept of where “you” begin and end. There would simply be nothing other than totally unsayable All-Mystery.

And in reality, that’s all there actually is. : )

Indivisible, intelligent, infinite, omnipresent, All-Mystery.

In the presence of THAT, all questions dissolve, because the total insufficiency of concepts, is nakedly revealed.

All concepts, stories, and maps, PERIOD, are revealed to be nothing more than play-things—beautiful, useful play-things that simply happen to have no hope of ever containing reality. Stories don’t contain IT… IT contains them.

When you come into direct contact with unspeakable reality, it is self-evidently far beyond all stories about it, including the one I’m telling right now.

It is self-evidently all that is, was, or will be.

It is self-evidently immeasurably intelligent and trustworthy.

It is self-evidently flawless, complete, perfect.

It is self-evidently your very essence. It is you.

It is self-evidently love.

Once you see it, you realize it is all you’ve ever seen—all you’ve ever experienced.

You may laugh… Hah-hah-hah!, wondering how it was possible that you overlooked it for so long, when all the time it was staring you in the face.

You then begin to realize how deeply hypnotized we humans are by our concepts—how lost we are within a giant manmade castle of definitions and conceptual identifications—and how much suffering this creates.

Yet you see that deep down we, the Mystery, have chosen to play this earthly game—to write all the scripts and act all the roles—because it’s epic and fun!

Heroes, villains, good, evil, disaster, euphoria, conflict, celebration, quests, challenges, suffering, bliss, love, hate, war, peace, apocalypse, utopia?!?!

Holy shit!! Sign me up!!

The intelligence of the All chooses to lose itself in a game of conceptual definition and identification, generating a world of apparently separate objects in order to experience countless adventures across many lifetimes of many souls, forgetting itself time and time again, and yet eventually always remembering itself as the indestructible All.

This, at least, is how reality appears from here, in this moment. : )

So Why Can’t We See It?

Why would it seem to most humans like I’m speaking a foreign language?

Why is the continuous Big Bang of the kaleidoscopic, un-pin-down-able All-Mystery not shockingly apparent to all of us?

Again, ‘we’ have chosen to enter a kind of hypnosis, in which we have mistaken our concepts, stories, and maps for reality. This enables the entire conflict-ridden human drama to go on and to seem so utterly compelling and substantial.

And once more, let’s not forget that in one sense all our human stories are utterly real and true! Experientially, we are here as individuals, we perceive a world of separate beings and objects, beings are suffering, there are problems to solve, and so on.

This is why in Buddhism they speak of “two truths”: The truth of the world of form, as well as the truth of the formless, unsayable Mystery. Gradually, through the process of awakening, we come to realize these “two truths” are two aspects of the same dance; the world of form is appearing within the formless, unsayable Mystery; form and formless are one.

Death Before Death

The funny thing is, some humans do ‘wake up’ and notice the Mystery—or rather, the Mystery notices itself through an indefinable aperture we call “a human.”

Such humans have historically often been shunned, ridiculed, dismissed, exiled, tortured, murdered, and/or crucified.

Thankfully, we now live in a time in which ‘non-dual awakening’ is a fairly popular pursuit and widely acknowledged as valuable.

It seems that, if you truly desire to wake up and remember what you are—if you truly desire to remember Mystery, Source, Tao, God, ________—you will. Maybe not immediately, but if you keep praying, practicing, questioning, meditating, finding teachers, and so on, it will happen.

Eventually, we all remember the deathless Mystery that we are, if only when our human body dies.

“The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ — and find that there is no death.”

— Eckhart Tolle

I would add to what Eckhart says here by noting that many people probably aren’t meant to experience this ‘death before death’ in this lifetime (though who knows), and that’s perfectly okay.

There’s no rush. When you do wake up, you see clearly that the Mysterious Perfection was simply always the case anyway—effortlessly, flawlessly unfolding itself; never actually departing from itself at all.

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If You Wish to Wake Up

If you are in the process of waking up or if you do wish to wake up…

I would first suggest to you to realize that ‘waking up’ is the simplest possible thing.

It’s not some far-off, elite, meditating-on-mountaintops thing.

It’s closer than your very bones.

It’s this moment, right now, seen clearly.

This moment, seen without the veil of concepts.

This moment, seen through the eyes of an infant.

This moment, right now, is God.

“God” is simply another word for the Radiant Presence of the All-Mystery.

God is not something you attain.

Rather, you simply realize God was always the case.

The Mystery was always the case.

Find a picture of yourself as an infant, and look into your eyes.

What were those eyes seeing?

Re-connect with the dazzling, unsayable light-show seen by those infant eyes.

Realize words and concepts have tricked you into thinking you actually know what things are…

Realize you don’t actually know what anything is.

Non-knowing is the portal.

Return to the unsayable.

Return to the this-is-all-actually-here-ness.

Let it bowl you over, swallow you up, and spit you back out…

Let it gradually melt away all your frozen concepts, beliefs, and identities…

Revealing the fluid, amorphous, un-pin-down-able Dance of Being.

Notice how, in the absence of concepts, all the pressure to ‘be somebody’ disappears.

In the absence of concepts, there is simply this weightless innocence.

Reality is weightless innocence.

Notice how weightlessly innocent reality simply allows all things to be exactly as they are.

Notice how it unconditionally accepts every aspect of itself.

Awakening is no big deal.

It’s your hand in the absence of the concept “your hand.”

It’s the taste of cool water without the concept “the taste of cool water.”

It’s the pulsing, throbbing, omnipresent electricity of Life living itself.

It’s simply Life.

Life itself, seen clearly as the unitary miracle that it is.

After Awakening

Ah, you thought awakening was the end of the show? : )

Not quite.

Beautifully, once initiated, awakening continues to deepen and deepen.

It continues to be more deeply realized, integrated, and embodied in all areas of life, for the rest of one’s life and beyond.

In one sense, NOW is always the finish line. In another sense, Infinite Mystery has no finish line; it just keeps going and going.

Maps and Resources

On a retreat, I once asked Bentinho Massaro, "Are all mental maps and stories, including the Law of One map/story, mere paltry shadows or children's toys, in comparison to the naked, immediate omnipresence of Absolute Infinity?"

"Yes, for sure," Bentinho said immediately, smiling. "Yes, all this is redundant. But it's better than what you get in school! (laughs)... But [pointers are] super valuable [for helping people] "get there"—help people get the realizations and so forth. But when you're at the destination, the map is utterly useless—except, to tell other people where to go, you know, drop a pin (makes popping sound). So that's what we're doing: Dropping pins. (makes clicking sounds and smiles).

He continued, "And then, I've found it helpful, as a pin-dropper (laughs), to have the knowledge that I have and the maps that I do have, because it does help me to drop pins for others. And it has occasionally helped me to, sort of, find my own way back, if that makes sense. So I absolutely honor the maps that I honor, and I have the deepest respect for them. But as to your question, literally, yes, it pales in comparison to that and is not needed at some point."

I love this elucidation of the purpose of maps.

Map-wise, here are some of my favorites: Jed McKenna, Eckhart Tolle, David Hawkins, Pema Chodron, Peter Brown, Adyashanti, Bentinho Massaro, Byron Katie, Charles Eisenstein, Terence McKenna, Tao Lin, Jiro Taylor, Stephen Reid, and so on.

As you delve into the wilderness of spiritual teachings, I can recommend these principles:

  1. Burn down all pedestals. It’s common to put great teachers on pedestals, but I encourage you to burn down these pedestals over time. Pedestal-ing a teacher can blind you to their shadows/blindspots. And there is nothing in any teacher that is not also in you. That being said, devotion to teacher(s) has historically been a key piece of the puzzle for many; yet I recommend balancing devotion with discernment.

  2. Look for the shadows/blindspots of any map or teacher. Every map has its blindspots. Every being has a shadow. The brightest lights often cast particularly subtle, yet dense, shadows. There’s a reason guru-student relationships are notorious breeding grounds for (subtle forms of) abuse, trickery, power games. Always keep your eyes open.

  3. Question all the things; always retain your sovereignty. Building on the last point, never stop questioning, and never give up your own sovereign authority over your reality. Trust your own knowing/guidance above all else.

  4. Embrace your unique flavor of awakening. In one sense the revelations of awakening seem to be universal. In another sense there is a fascinating way in which each being seems to end up with its own unique, artistic relationship to the One Perfection—its own subtleties of how it tastes the Mystery and how it poetically expresses the Mystery through words, actions, and so on. Embrace this. Trust your own direct seeing / experience and your own expression.

  5. Reserve your deepest devotion/surrender for God. Ultimately this path is about learning to see and know God / Mystery directly in all things. Reserve your deepest bows of surrender and devotion for the sun, the sky, the clouds, the stars, the trees, the Earth, all beings, and the Great Intelligent All-Mysterious Perfection that is manifesting all these. This Perfection is your very Self.

In Sum

Phew, that turned into quite a post.

Thank you for joining me on this wild ride.

Thank you to the Mystery for making all this possible.



P.S. Paid subscribers: If you keep scrolling, below you’ll find a piece of writing that provides further instruction on how to see/notice the Mystery beyond the veil of concepts. I may publish this piece in the future on Substack or as part of a book. I’m not sure. Enjoy. Thank you for your support.

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Jordan Bates is a wizard, sovereignty mentor, wisdom synthesizer, writer, trickster, rapper, lover of Tao, and founder of Ouroboros. Find him on social media and view his latest books/albums/offerings here.

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