Part 4 of ‘Surrender to the Mystery: On Knowing and the Power of Not-Knowing’
We Live Within a State of Not-Knowing
Life is a mystery. There is no way around that. Why there is something rather than nothing is a mystery. Why there is a universe as complex as the one we know, seemingly infinite in scope, full of intelligence and beauty, in which everything is vibrating frequency, is music, is a Mystery that defies the bounds of belief.
The older I become the more I surrender to the fundamental beauty of this mystery and to the essential importance of my Not-Knowing, which is an intrinsic and necessary aspect of our human condition.
When I say ‘not-knowing’, I am not speaking of ignorance, which it could easily be confused with.
I am not aware of an English term that properly denotes the concept I wish to express by ‘not-knowing’.
It is not an absence, but a persistent attribute of our being, a state we live with, and within, our entire lives.
‘Not-knowing’ is the veil that distinguishes us from the rest of reality and confines us to a world of personal experience. It forms the background and context for our experience.
‘Not-knowing’ is the void-space in which the story of our life unfolds; the force that empowers the adventure, a handmaiden to wonder and surprise.
There would be little joy in this Great Play if we already knew every opportunity and outcome.
Without our not-knowing, ‘play’ itself would be impossible to us.
‘Not-knowing’ is life’s mystery, embodied in our experience.
Not-knowing offers great power and perspective when it is embraced and integrated.
The Golden Veil
Confined to a moment of space-time and a tiny bandwidth in the electromagnetic spectrum, the very fact of our finitude ensures that there will always be an infinite amount that we do not know.
Beyond the facts and experiences that are inaccessible to us, our not-knowing goes much deeper, entwining itself into the very essence of our experience.
We never know what any given day will bring.
The actions of others, the behavior of the natural world, the fallibility of our own bodies, sudden events, and a host of other factors combine to form the always surprising vagaries of fate.
No matter how well-planned our schedules, no matter how well laid our plans, at any moment, something unexpected may and often does unfold, confounding our expectations and turning life in an instant.
We do not know where the thoughts we think come from, or how we ‘hear’ them in our heads.
We do not know the true nature of consciousness, the nature of dreams, or what lies beyond death.
Though it is common to pretend otherwise, we still have very little idea of how the incredible complexity and intelligence of Life emerged, supposedly from nothing.
So limited is our knowing that when we open our mouths, though we may have an intention to speak, we do not know the exact words that will emerge until they are spoken and often we have cause to regret what emerged, despite our best intentions.
Accept The Mystery
Though we may like to think we have a handle on things, our species is in its adolescence. We have a long way to go before we truly begin to decipher large swathes of our reality.
As much as we may wish to believe we are in control of our lives, we are not. We do not decide what we will live through and what we will be forced to deal with. We can only plot our course as best we can and do our best with what comes.
So long as we are in human form, we will never figure it all out. Never.
And thank God for that.
Life would be completely predictable and terribly stale were it not for our capacity to not-know.
Few things are beyond doubt, but one that is, is that we live within a flow of being far, far, greater than ourselves.
If we are fortunate, we may dive deep and treasure our ride, but like it or not, the Great Mystery of Life is in charge and it will have its way with us.
This essay continues in PART 5: ‘The Nature of Knowledge‘