Monday, July 16, 2018
Start with “I don’t know.” Why not just start with where you’ll end up anyway? ~Adyashanti
I was never a legit Trekkie but I did enjoy and was inspired by two of the series – Next Generation, and Voyager.
Each series had a crew member characterized by intellectual and logical prowess – Data, the android in Next Generation, and Tuvok, the Vulcan in Voyager. Occasionally they were confronted with a question they could not answer.
“What is the composition of the gasses in that nebula?”
“What is the origin of that ship speeding towards us on an intercept course?”
“What dimension did these aliens just emerge from?”
When unable to answer, Data or Tuvok would simply reply “unknown.”
Lately, when feeling that urge to understand what cannot be understood, to describe what cannot be described, to have certainty where none exists, I have interrupted my endless mind loops with a simple word – unknown.
My mind hates that. My mind is useful for many things, and I appreciate its contribution to my life. But minds are wired to know, to identify, to categorize, to understand, to store and retrieve. Confronted with mystery, our minds continue to search for an answer. That’s fine if the mystery is about what is making that scratching sound in the attic, but it doesn’t work when the question is beyond the limits of mind, when the answer is not only unknown, but unknowable.
Not one to give up, the mind solves the dilemma by latching onto an answer. Then a problem arises when someone else’s mind latches onto a different answer. Which answer is The Answer?
How can we know? We can’t. As one teacher says, we cannot think our way to truth. Thinking is always one step away from truth. Truth just is, regardless of what we think or don’t think. When we drop everything we think we know, there it is, shining like a light that has been uncovered, shining as it always has been and always will.
But as soon as we try to think about it, or understand it, or explain it, it disappears again, not because it isn’t there but because our efforts to hold it in our minds block our inner sight. As the song says, how do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?
Someone recently joked that I’m like Oprah. (Really, they were joking.) Oh no, I replied. Oprah’s monthly magazine ends with a column titled “What I Know for Sure.” Oprah knows something for sure at least twelve times a year. I don’t know doodley-squat ... ever.
Footprints lead to the shore of the sea
Beyond that point no trace remains