Not knowing

Giving up the story means I need to deal with not knowing . . . accepting that I don’t know what will happen next.

There are a lot of physical predictable outcomes in life. Poking at a fire with my finger will pretty much guarantee that I will get burned. If I don’t put gas in my car, it will stop running. Every single body alive on earth right now will eventually die. No amount of story-telling will change any of these (I am still bewildered about American’s death-denying belief system and the pursuit of living here forever – do you REALLY want to?)

Anyway, I digress. We need our predictable realities. There has to be some dependable support structure around us because the outcome of everything else is a moving target.

I have a plan today of what will happen, and all of my efforts will be focused on executing the plan. The problem is I can’t guarantee that my day will unfold as I plan. I really don’t know. Better for me is to set my intent of how I want today to feel (alive, joyous, peaceful) and be willing to accept what comes my way to fulfill that intent.

A friend of mine pointed out that many people would qualify/label the feeling of not knowing as insecurity. His definition is that not knowing is the ability we have to experience a truer, or natural, state of our lives. He sent me to the Rumi poem “Zero Circle.” The poem opens with:
Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace to gather us up.

My interpretation is that in allowing ourselves to not know, we will find ourselves. As my time here on earth increases, I find that I know less and less, but I gain more wisdom in knowing that I don’t know. My goal has become one of discovering everything it is that I don’t know, and being willing to accept the path that takes me there.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass


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7 Responses to “Not knowing”

  1. holessence Says:

    Barbara – This is the PERFECT post to send me on my way this morning. And while I know you have a multitude of other readers, it feels like a special delivery message just for me this day — thank you.

    In his book, “The Issue at Hand: Essays on Buddhist Mindfulness Practice,” author and Soto Zen priest, Gil Fronsdal, writes, “The Zen practice of not-knowing is sometimes referred to as ‘beginner’s mind’—seeing with fresh, unbiased eyes; not being blinded to new possibilities or by preconceived ideas or judgments.”

    Laurie Buchanan

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Laurie — whatever happens at your workshop I know will be absolutely perfect for you — it will be exactly what you need. I “know” this because that is how you live your life: with intention, integrity, and joy. I look forward to reading the writings that will be coming our way.

  2. holessence Says:

    Thank you Barbara. I’m shutting down and out the door. I did receive a brief comment from Sandi on Gaia this morning. She’s alive and well.

    Adios, C’est la vie, Au revoir

    Laurie Buchanan

  3. Snoopykg1 Says:

    I am finding this day that I am a beginner when it comes to being in the present and letting things flow along in making sure I am not always planning and holding my expectations of what will happen in such high esteem.
    I do believe that I am optomistic in making sure that I believe and expect positive outcomes no matter how plans my unravel. I tend to deal with refocusing, changing, and adusting minute to minute. I n my business I have to be availiable every minnute of the day for inspectors and emergencies at any one of our facilities in the chicago area or St Louis.

    Thanks for the question….

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Kim — I interpret “optimist” as someone whose intent is to expect the very best outcome whatevet that might be. And, I think that knowing you are a beginner in your practice of being present is where everyone is — to have “beginner’s mind” keeps you open to what is really happening in the moment.

  4. sandiwhite Says:

    Barbara, as I write this towards the end of the week, I can look back and feel gratitude for having my mind as simple as it is. To be able to actually take stock and then to act in accordance with what my instinct prompts me to do. I know a lot more on Friday than I had ever dreamed of on Monday. A “beginner’s mind” is very useful when dealing with the unknown, without arguments, raising objections or perpetuating denial, I took all advice at face value and believed in the best possible outcome. Without surrendering to negativity or fear, I accepted that my position was precarious at best and went to work to put my mental weight on the positive end of the scales and I am continuing to do so. Needless to say the combined weight of the prayers and best wishes of all my dear friends and family surely shifted the balance in my favor, another blessing to add to my growing list.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      You were the topic of virtual conversation for those two days, Sandi. You are a smart woman, connected to some of the best knowledge available. That you have a beginner’s mind and are willing to embrace the unknown with all of your wisdom and power puts you in the best place to take good care of you.

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