Surrender to the Mystery

On Knowing and the Power of Not-Knowing



Sick of fruitless arguments?

The need to be right is ubiquitous and, too often, the argument is a fight rather than an exercise in truth-seeking.

People can become religious on any subject and difference of opinion often invites ridicule, castigation, or banishment by those who assume they know The Truth.

Whether it is online, or in person, far too much time and energy get wasted in a pointless argument.

Such behavior has always been unfortunate, but the advent of Covid has amplified the problem and my patience with it has run out.

Never before has it been as clear that attacking, denigrating, or censoring others for their perspective is counterproductive.

Either our lives, our liberty, or both, are under threat, but still, dogmatism reigns on all sides.

I am bone-tired of people, including so-called ‘experts’ and ‘authorities’ acting as though they know The Truth when they are really just offering their own perspectives or that of the people paying them.

I am even sicker of those who have done little research, or thinking, of their own, blindly following media narratives, or conspiracy narratives, or whatever narratives, while still feeling free to attack anyone who dares question their gospel beliefs.

Not only is such behavior deeply obnoxious, but it is also deluded.

If you feel your worldview is the absolute truth, if you feel you have the final answer on any subject then, almost certainly, it is because you have not yet learned to appreciate the deep differences between ‘belief’ and ‘knowledge’, or are unaware of the limits of human cognition, or of science, or otherwise don’t yet know enough to have acquired an appropriate degree of humility in your Self.

We would all be much better off if we understood the limits of our knowing, the immense importance of our not-knowing, and the joy that comes in engaging with others with an open heart and a playful mind.

This is why I have written this series of essays on this important theme.

Knowledge is venerated, even idolized, in modern society. There can be no doubt that it certainly has its value and its place, but mystery and not-knowing are fundamental aspects of our experience and have their own deep import and gifts.

If you cannot recognize the mystery in your life, or even find it permeating within the domains of your own beliefs, it is most likely because you have closed yourself off to fundamental aspects of your reality.

Your certainty is not truth. It is unconsciousness.

The Shadow of Knowledge has you in its spell and it is inhibiting you from a truthful relationship with others and with the world.

It’s a shadow I know well.

I have intimate experience with it, in myself.

I could never take anything at face value. For many years, the need to know was a frenzied driving force in my being and I devoted myself absolutely to seeking knowledge.

I wanted to know Everything. And I made that my main mission in life.

It was a hopeless endeavor, but it yielded a great deal of insight into the art of living well and the ways thinking you know can seriously undermine one’s experience.

It also gave me a much clearer sense of the nature of knowing and, far more importantly, it taught me the nature, virtue, and Power of not-knowing, which is a truly under-appreciated facet of our experience.

In the following series of essays, I will share what my deep journey revealed to me and why, ultimately, I now feel that Not-Knowing is essentially the very essence of the reason for our existence in this world.

This essay continues in PART 2, ‘A World of Perspective’


This Article is also available on Medium. 



Pamela Coleman’s Fool, From the classic Rider-Waite Tarot Deck. (WikiCommons.)