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Thread: not knowing is uncomfortable

  1. #1

    not knowing is uncomfortable

    Hi guys,

    I'd feel like I'm doing this place a disservice by running away and never asking about something that's very much a 800 pound gorilla to me. "not knowing", "I don't know" is a really really uncomfortable feeling, state of mind, whatever it "is", it doesn't sit well. I feel a urge to satiate the not knowing as fast as possible, reestablish a comfort zone asap and grab onto something so I "know". Should I sit with the not knowing?

    Cheers,
    Greg

  2. #2
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Hi Greg,

    The question I have for you is the following:

    Is it really "not knowing" or another of this made up stuff we are so clever at crafting?Not knowing is very simple, not even aware of itself , it does not say for instance :I don t know. It is I don't know. Watch very young kids playing and you ll get closer to what it really is.

    Another possibility would be that when you start to enter not knowing, it doesn't appeal to the small guy, the control freak, the little self who has all these shelves organised to put things on and classify thoughts, ideas, experiences. The discomfort can be a sign of this resistance to opening.

    Hope this helps.


    gassho



    Taigu

  3. #3

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Taigu,

    this might sound perfectly ridiculous but I don't know what not knowing, this not knowing, is or isn't, it's just not knowing. knowing that you really don't have a indisputable, "hard" grasp on anything you do think you know. not knowing if "this" is even the case regardless if I put it into words. the "control freak" is perfectly in charge, I'll "know" again, some time will pass, something you or jundo or someone else will say will bring back not knowing, and the cycle repeats. Something will happen in my day life that will happen out of the realm of what I know that is supposed to happen, or is happening, the "I" or w/e it is at this point will pause, discomfort sets in at this ignorance, a search ensues, a theory is developed that is deemed acceptable, etc, etc, etc.

  4. #4

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleeps
    Hi guys,

    I'd feel like I'm doing this place a disservice by running away and never asking about something that's very much a 800 pound gorilla to me. "not knowing", "I don't know" is a really really uncomfortable feeling, state of mind, whatever it "is", it doesn't sit well. I feel a urge to satiate the not knowing as fast as possible, reestablish a comfort zone asap and grab onto something so I "know". Should I sit with the not knowing?

    Cheers,
    Greg
    Hi Greg,

    Lovely response from Taigu, just to be like a child playing. Also, it is the small self that is so hungry to know. Lovely.

    I am going to assume that you mean this as a general question about feeling "I don't know" about questions or problems in life, and that you are not referring to a kind of Zen practice sometimes discussed in Rinzai circles of sitting with "Great Doubt" as part of Koan Introspection. (Let me know if you mean the latter, as that is a bit of another issue).

    There is much stuff about the universe, life, love and relationships and everything else that we just don't know. Some things have definite answers or solutions, and we go to school or learn from experience and find them. For example, there was a solid cure for Polio and some smart doctors found it.

    Some things in life may have no clear answers. For example, "do I stay in my current relationship or job or change it for another?" In such cases, our Zen Practice (and common sense) tell us to be patient, gather as many facts as we can, sit with it all ... then follow one's heart. When coming to a crossroads, TAKE IT! Go right or left. But the way you go, go that way. Practice may help find some quiet to listen to one's heart more, that is true. Some day life may hand you a cancer diagnosis with no cure ... and one should just allow even that, go with the flow (does one have a choice anyway?) So, some types of human unknowing we must just allow, be patient with ... it is the human condition, and just know that you can be patient with not knowing or having no solution.

    In the case of problems in life or questions we cannot answer or resolve ever, Zen practice makes us accepting of our human ignorance ... since I do not know all the secrets of the universe, I will simply chop wood and carry water in the here and now. I will seek to live my life here and now in a gentle way, doing the best I can for as long as I can.

    However, there is also a certain knowing (non-knowing) that can come on many subjects when we stop asking the questions in the usual way, or stop asking the questions at all.

    To quote from that great Zen Master (unfortunately, War Master too) Donald Rumsfeld ...

    ... as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know

    I would add that there are "no problem unknowns" - things we don't know, but that is NO PROBLEM!

    And there are "unknown knowns" - things we can know by non-knowing.

    I write a bit more about all this here, in the "BIG Questions" series ... Here is the first ...

    viewtopic.php?f=24&t=1205&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

    Gassho, J

  5. #5

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    The mind always has something it wishes to figure out. Yet, it never figures out anything.

    Our entire upbringing teaches us that we have to know certain things, so when we realize how much, not only we don't know, but the mere fact that intellectually we can't know, it becomes uncomfortable.

    But not knowing is beautiful. it is innocent. Knowing is static, when you think you know something you are like a rock, and that knowledge weighs you down. this world is not static, it is constantly flowing, how can you know anything, it always changing. not knowing lets you enter into that. to not know means to wonder, to question, to study. In not knowing we keep the Beginner's mind.

    As Socrates said; "the only thing I know is that I know nothing." What a beautiful statement.

    The ego wants to know, it makes it feel alive. The reason not knowing is uncomfortable is because the sense of self cannot go there. In true not knowing, where are you to be found?

    Embrace you not knowing, it is beautiful.

  6. #6

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    pertaining to zen, I've read about "great doubt", dunno if that is a component of what I'm experiencing, I'm watching complete gridlock however if that's at all relevant. "who am i...did I understand the point in the introductory videos for zazen...what...blah blah blah..."

    as far as life is concerned, knowing you don't know the end of anything helps me keep a open mind, even though I think I know what's up I'm usualy still paitent enough to not completely settle because so many unknowns can happen. my idea of the world isn't the end all, be all and that at the very least never fully leaves my awareness and I'm thankful for it because if I ever thought (and yes I did! prolly still do!) I fully knew something, and something happened that I didn't know would happen, I'd give up and not continue trying to figure it out. taking my ideas lightly with this in mind keeps me from being too upset when something happens that does not agree with my model.

  7. #7

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    The mind always has something it wishes to figure out. Yet, it never figures out anything.

    Our entire upbringing teaches us that we have to know certain things, so when we realize how much, not only we don't know, but the mere fact that intellectually we can't know, it becomes uncomfortable.

    But not knowing is beautiful. it is innocent. Knowing is static, when you think you know something you are like a rock, and that knowledge weighs you down. this world is not static, it is constantly flowing, how can you know anything, it always changing. not knowing lets you enter into that. to not know means to wonder, to question, to study. In not knowing we keep the Beginner's mind.

    As Socrates said; "the only thing I know is that I know nothing." What a beautiful statement.

    The ego wants to know, it makes it feel alive. The reason not knowing is uncomfortable is because the sense of self cannot go there. In true not knowing, where are you to be found?

    Embrace you not knowing, it is beautiful.
    quite hard to embrace, don't know why it doesn't just settle into a accepted thing.

  8. #8

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleeps
    pertaining to zen, I've read about "great doubt", dunno if that is a component of what I'm experiencing, I'm watching complete gridlock however if that's at all relevant. "who am i...did I understand the point in the introductory videos for zazen...what...blah blah blah..."

    as far as life is concerned, knowing you don't know the end of anything helps me keep a open mind, even though I think I know what's up I'm usualy still paitent enough to not completely settle because so many unknowns can happen. my idea of the world isn't the end all, be all and that at the very least never fully leaves my awareness and I'm thankful for it because if I ever thought (and yes I did! prolly still do!) I fully knew something, and something happened that I didn't know would happen, I'd give up and not continue trying to figure it out. taking my ideas lightly with this in mind keeps me from being too upset when something happens that does not agree with my model.
    correction, I'd fight it and argue why my worldview is right.

  9. #9

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleeps
    pertaining to zen, I've read about "great doubt", dunno if that is a component of what I'm experiencing, I'm watching complete gridlock however if that's at all relevant. "who am i...did I understand the point in the introductory videos for zazen...what...blah blah blah..."

    as far as life is concerned, knowing you don't know the end of anything helps me keep a open mind, even though I think I know what's up I'm usualy still paitent enough to not completely settle because so many unknowns can happen. my idea of the world isn't the end all, be all and that at the very least never fully leaves my awareness and I'm thankful for it because if I ever thought (and yes I did! prolly still do!) I fully knew something, and something happened that I didn't know would happen, I'd give up and not continue trying to figure it out. taking my ideas lightly with this in mind keeps me from being too upset when something happens that does not agree with my model.
    Sounds again like your head gears are spinning 90 miles an hour! Let them still. How?

    Sit.

    I sometimes use the metaphor of our head ... filled with wild thoughts and runaway emotions ... like a bowl of water all shaken and stirred up, filled with bubbles and ripples. When we sit, we just put the bowl down ... and the water quiets ... the bubbles and ripples settle of their own accord ... and the water becomes clear to the bottom.

    Just sit, and drop these thoughts, what if's, obsessions. Problem solved!

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    sounds like a plan, sat already today but right now seems like a good idea.

    Cheers,
    Greg

  11. #11

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    well, the gridlock went away, after 40 min it went down to a level of below "normal" chatter. I'll continue with the buddha basics video after I sit tomorrow. Even if it really isn't gridlock, you momentarily loose attention to what you're watching, the less opportunities to go chasing down some rabbit the better.

  12. #12

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Greg – You may like to try observing the discomfort for periods as you sit. Don’t try and understand it just keep looking at it square in the face. While it is pure speculation on my part you may well be being confronted with the great doubt, as you suspected. Some of us live with underlying fear our entire lives. For me Zazen is very powerful in this regard, but only when I sit for periods of more than 30m - 2 x/day. For a man of your age exercise is also very important. Go out and pound the streets or swim or something - even take up boxing
    Cheers
    m

  13. #13

    RE: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Exercise is important at any age! Gotta dump that adrenaline and cortisol.

    Sent from my SGH-i917 using Board Express

  14. #14

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    If it is great doubt, I have yet to discern yet. In Reconciliation: Healing the inner child Thich Naht Hanh talks about thoughts that have been habitualy rejected and all that comes up sometimes is the feeling. Gaining insight into if this is great doubt or where that fundamental dread that if pushed, is a matter of insight, same principle as to why a delusion for example would fall apart in the face of a insight that debunks it. Clearly my responses to what I'm dealing with when Taigu tried to press the matter were less then clear, I just wanted to get the ball rolling. I think sitting is without a doubt a "game changer". Going from full proper gridlock yesterday to a decent state of tranquility in 40 minutes, and pretty much maintaining that more or less without any special effort cannot be doubted. zazen does slow the blender down, thoughts do wind down, it's a experiential fact to me now.

    I do have doubt regarding buddhism, the pivotal difference that keeps me interested for all these years is the fact that no teacher, or Buddha himself tried to sell you anything. Not any that I noticed at least. At the risk of being reductionist I see the general expression from buddhism regarding what it is trying to suggest is "Here's what's up, don't take my word for it, try it out for yourself". I never ever get the slightest hint that I'm ever being forcefully defaulted into something I don't understand.

    Doubt can coexist with something where experiential "understanding" is stressed.

    But yeah, enough of this rambling on my part , time to sit and watch some more of these videos.

    Cheers,
    Greg

  15. #15

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Greg. Hang around. Practice. There is a lot less to come
    cheers
    m

  16. #16

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Quote Originally Posted by michaeljc
    Greg. Hang around. Practice. There is a lot less to come
    cheers
    m
    oh I plan on it sir. :3

    cheers,
    greg

  17. #17

    RE: not knowing is uncomfortable

    The 3 pillars of Zen: great faith, great doubt, great determination. Looks like you have all 3 don't expect zazen to always "slow the blender." sometimes it will speed it up.... Don't expect anything though, just sit.

    Sent from my SGH-i917 using Board Express

  18. #18

    Re: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Knowing or not knowing?

    For me, and I think this follows the Buddha's admonition to look deeper into things before you believe in them or adopt them in your life, the great test of knowledge is, "What would I do with this information?"

    For example: The old meaning of life question.

    The conclusion that I came to was, What would I do with this information if I had it? Well, if I didn't "know" what the meaning of life was, I'd get up every morning, go to work, come home, do the stuff I need to do, and be with my family, and maybe wonder what the meaning of life was. If I did "know", my day would look much the same, the only difference being that I'd be wondering about the next thing on my list that I didn't have any answers for.

    Different when you say: How do I build a shelter out of sticks? or How do I cook a pot roast? These things have better answers - You'll be warm and dry in an emergency or you'll be full and happy with a tasty dinner.

    The "don't know mind" is a wonderful way to look at it. It isn't that you are ignorant, but more that you do not let the lack of the "knowledge" (which is really our discriminating way of trying to understand mentally the things you must experience) cause discord in your mind and body.

  19. #19

    RE: not knowing is uncomfortable

    Very true, Christopher! The whole "after the ecstasy ... The laundry" comes to mind.

    _/_

    Sent from my SGH-i917 using Board Express

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