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Thread: Split topic: Knowing Not Knowing Knowing

  1. #1

    Split topic: Knowing Not Knowing Knowing

    I wanted to give this its own thread because a big question ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    sorry for the sidetrack, but I find this "don't know" interesting.

    It's funny Stephen Batchelor says that "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer to a question, but Steve Hagen says we truly do know, so even I don't know
    is not acceptable. And you know what? I think both are right. ...

    Anyway I just don't know. hahahaha
    Ha! In our Zenny ways, Batchelor's not knowing or Master Seung Sahn's "only don't know" and Steve Hagen's telling us that we "always know (though not always realizing we know)" are not different at all. Each are making the point that when we get beyond our daily mind of analyzing, naming, and figuring out, there is just a Big Know ... much as one truly comes to merge into making love or experiencing a sunrise when we stop "thinking about/critiquing/narrating" what we are doing as we are doing it, and Just Do, Just Allow, Just Be.

    But there are different kinds of "knowing by knowing" and "knowing by not knowing" and "just not knowing" in our Zen Practice.

    Here is what I sometimes write about "knowing" in our Way ... there are several different kinds ...


    Knowing Not Knowing Knowing

    There is so much about the universe, life, love and everything else that we just don't know.

    But some things have definite answers or solutions, and we go to school or learn from experience and find them. For some things, we can "know" the sure answer. For example, there was a solid cure for Polio and some smart doctors found it. That is a wonderful discovery that human beings came to know. We can also know for sure other things in life, such as how to make a grilled cheese sandwich or drive a car or that "1 + 1 = 2".

    Then again, some things in life may have no clear answers that we can know, and in those situations, our Zen Practice (and perhaps our grandmothers too) tell us just to accept that and do our best. Life is sometimes between a rock and a hard place, or presents tough choices. For example, "do I stay in my current marriage or job or town or change it for another, something that will be better?" In such cases, our Zen Practice guides us to be patient, gather as many facts as we can, sit with it all ... drop it all, let it be ... then follow our heart. When coming to a crossroads, TAKE IT! Go right or left. But the way you go, go that way. Sometimes we need to stay in a relationship or situation and just be more patient about it, learn to bite our lip or learn to experience it differently from before. Sometimes, the chemistry is wrong or harmful and we should simply get out and try something new. Practice may help find some quiet to listen to our heart more, that is true, but there may be no "one right answer". Just know that one should do one's best, and go that way.

    Next, some situations in life have no answer, no cure, no solution at all. If truly unavoidable (old age, someday dying, for example), Zen Practice provides the tools to accept even that and let it flow. Some day, life may hand any of us a cancer diagnosis with no cure ... and one should just allow even that, go with the flow. Some types of human unknowing we must just allow, be patient with ... it is the human condition, and just know that you can embrace not knowing and accept having no fix or solution or cure. (Does one have a choice anyway? In fact, Zen Practice allows us to accept the condition even as we still put up "the good fight" ... allowing things to be taking their course AND taking our medicine AT ONCE ... seeking nothing, while hoping for a cure AT ONCE ... a kind of acceptance even as we don't accept.)

    In the case of problems in life or questions we cannot answer or resolve ever, Zen practice teaches us to be accepting of our human ignorance ... and 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. Often the Buddha would refuse to answer certain "Big Questions", perhaps simply because the questions were not relevant to his Teachings ... questions such as whether the universe is eternal or not (or both! or neither!) ... whether a Buddha exists after death or not (or both! or neither!) ( (His reason for not answering may be simply because the questions were not central to his Teaching. Maybe he knew but did not wish to say. Maybe the truth was just beyond words. Maybe he just did not know any more than the rest of us.

    However, it is also true, said the Buddha, that there are clear, certain Knowings that can come on many questions when we stop asking the questions in the usual way, or stop asking the questions at all.

    Our Practice provides some very specific (and wonderful) answers to some 'Big Questions' when we approach the problem differently from our usual ways. Buddhism provides very clear guidance and understanding of the origins of human suffering in this life. The "Four Noble Truths", for example, provide a formula that effectively describes the sickness and provides the medicine for its treatment or cure ... just as certainly as that cure for Polio (More about that here: In life, there is sickness, old age, death and loss, dissatisfaction … but they are no problem at all if ...

    ... in sickness, we do not refuse the condition …
    … in old age, we cease to long for youth …
    … in facing death, we allow and do not cling to life …
    … in loss, we let go …
    ... in encountering violated expectations, we just no longer wish otherwise …

    We can drop our wants and needs, go with the flow ... so much so that there only remains the flowing! Although we cannot escape aging, dying and the rest, we can know such cure to Dukkha, human suffering.

    Our Practice provides some very wonderful answers to other 'Big Questions' by instructing us to drop the questions as meaningless. Some questions are as pointless as our asking 'how many angels can gather on the head of a pin' or 'what color are the rabbits that live on the moon' or 'What is God's shoe size?'. An example of such a question may be "where do we 'go' when we die, and where did we 'come from' before we were born" From a certain Wise Viewless View ... one encounters that This beyond coming or going, here all along ... much as an ocean wave would be foolish to search for the sea ... the eye to look for the eye ... much as we would be foolish to search for New York while standing in Times Square. Stop the searching, and see what's what all along. Instantly, that whole little "death" thing is resolved!

    Next, though we may not know the "Meaning Of Life" and "Why We Are Here", we can come to fully know the "Meaning Of Life" and "Why We Are Here." How did you and I happen to be born in these bodies, with these lives? Due to these small brains of ours (how incredible that we have even that much!), we humans may never know the ultimate causes of things any more than a cat ... while sitting in the sun ... can understand solar physics or philosophy or theology. However, the cat knows the warmth of the sun ... and we can know these lives. Conscious human life is much like waking up to find yourself, for no known reason, an actor on a stage in a mysterious theater. We may not know clearly who or what built the theatre or set the scenery around us. Maybe nobody or nothing built them, maybe they just appeared, although so much seems to have gone into it, so much detail and skill and time. There may or may not be a playright, some designer to hang the lights overhead and paint the backdrops, but we and our fellow actors seem rather free to act and move round the stage. What to do? ACT, AND ACT WELL (until our time to exit stage left ... back into that mysterious "non death" behind the curtain where the theatre was just what we are all along, like the wave and sea). As we are living these lives, I know that the best purpose is to live them (like the purpose of a bicycle is to ride it) ... and live/ride them well, gently and with meaning. I know (strongly suspect to the point of knowing) that too much has gone into our being born ... from the Big Bang to the stars to the air and water of this world ... for it to be simple chance. But, chance or not, it does not matter. I know my life.

    Hand in hand with the above, many questions we regularly ask may just be phrased poorly, biased by our narrow, anthropocentric human understanding. When we change the way the question is asked, answers begin to present themselves. (Hitting the "reset button' on so many of our misguided questions are what most of those old Koans are on about, by the way). An example of that may be "why do 'bad things' happen in the world". Why do bad things sometimes happen even to seemingly very good people? Is it a hidden punishment from heaven like Job in the Bible? Past bad Karma working out (the Buddhist and Hindu view)? Perhaps just bad luck? Something else all together? It could be any of those, and different religions and philosophies have offered different explanations. However, Buddhism also offers one complete resolution to the question that we can ABSOLUTELY KNOW! For there is a viewless-view wherein there is never any separate being to do harm, no separate being to be harmed, and no harm which can be done. There, children never die too young for time does not matter, nor is there measure of "long" or short". Wars are not fought, for no competing armies. There is no "birth and death" for nothing separate to add or take away. We escape dying (even as we die in this world) for there is no dying from the start. Here, "1 + 1 = 1". This Peace of One Piece holds even all the broken pieces of life, shining as/in/beyond/right-thought-and-through this sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly world of war and peace and birth and death.

    We can KNOW this Wholeness (beyond, yet holding, even a "we" to be knowing), and the non-doorway (for truly no place in need of entering) is this Zen Way.

    Thus is the certain knowing of a breeze on the cheek, a raindrop, child's smile, a grain of sand ... each and all fully known to hold all time and space, and to shine like a jewel.

    Which is the "right way of Knowing" in our Zen Practice? ALL OF THE ABOVE!

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-11-2012 at 12:32 AM.

  2. #2
    This is wonderful Jundo

    In the case of problems in life or questions we cannot answer or resolve ever, Zen practice teaches us to be accepting of our human ignorance ... and 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.
    A light bulb moment, thank you!


  3. #3
    All I can say Is thank you as well.. Wow I think maybe one of the "magic powers" of zen is that it allows us to hopefully realize, "Do we have a choice anyway?"... or realize and awaken to what is right here and now, removing the confusion of what we think are choices but are really just our clinging getting in the way of what is really happening (such as sickness, old age and death).



  4. #4
    Thank you Jundo

    Thank you for your practice

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  6. #6
    Thank you, Jundo.

    Deep gassho,

    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

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  9. #9
    Thank you Jundo
    Heisoku 平 息
    Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

  10. #10
    Excellent post , Bro.



  11. #11
    gassho, Shokai

    仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

    "Open to life in a benevolent way"

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