“I Don’t Know”

Many of us don’t want to admit to ourselves, never mind say out loud, “I don’t know.” We want to believe, have been conditioned to believe, that to know in terms of the thinking, rational mind is above all else. We believe that if we gather enough information, stay plugged in often enough, stay abreast of the latest breaking news story that we will be OK, protected, informed. Only… Life is constantly reminding us that we can’t control the “weather” of the world. There is only so much preparation we can do for a “super storm.” Only so many bags of ice to buy. Only so many packs of batteries to squirrel away. Only so many tanks of gas to fill up.

The truth is, we don’t even know whether we will make it to tonight. And the inability to be with that level of uncertainty is why we scramble the way we do. It seems so much more predictable, orderly and guaranteed to be continually amassing information, weighing odds and controlling things through hyper-vigilance, anxiety, busyness and compulsiveness. It almost seems like if we could just outwit, out-think, out-prepare what life might churn up for us, we would be alright. And at times there is the illusion that all of our efforts in that department are working.  Right up to the very moment when it stops working. And that time will come, regardless of how we have “prepared.” Maybe the storm will hit your home in the form of illness, disease, job loss, or tragedy. Maybe your faith will be shattered or another will betray you. Maybe you will notice that there is no way to outrun death or aging.

Is this all there is then? Just letting the weather of the world have its way with us? All of the great contemplative traditions point to the practice of letting go, of saying “I don’t know” to All That Is and to all that might happen. How can we even begin to work with something so enormous? Something many of us spend most of our days trying to hide from? Try the practice of “not knowing” in your day to day. In his book, A Year of Living Consciously, Gay Hendricks recommends repeating the words “I don’t know” throughout the day and then seeing what happens. Find times throughout your day when you can sincerely use the mantra “I don’t know.” Watch for the opportunities, the magic, and the Mystery that now has a chance to unfold because you and all of your knowing is not taking up all of the space.  Because of your willingness to empty yourself of the burden of having to know what you cannot know, miracles get to happen.

P.S. Knowing everything sounds like a job description for The Almighty.