I was struck by the power of “I don’t know” the other day, “I don’t know” as the answer to all questions, even the ones with ostensibly obvious answers. Who am I? What is this? Where are we? How’s it all happening? “I don’t know.” And to really mean it. To pretend I have no idea, until the pretending becomes authentic unknowing. Until I truly do not know. Letting go of the assumption that it’s even possible for me to grasp the magnitude of the answers, and not needing to, for once. Befriending that floating feeling of cluelessness. Experiencing mystery rather than trying to define it or catch it. Just letting it be, wild and free.
To every question: I don’t know. To every thought: maybe, maybe not.
Playing with this one, it made me think about all the harm spawned by the knowing mind, or the mind that thinks it knows, the mind that doesn’t know but feels it must. It’s such a defended state of being. It chooses its truth – one interpretation from a multitude of possibilities – and it tethers itself to this truth, identifies with it, as it. It needs this truth to be right, because if it’s wrong, then the mind’s perception of itself collapses, dies. Obviously it doesn’t want that, so the knowing mind fortifies itself, protects itself, does anything and everything to prove that no other truth is truer.
But what if it’s just “I don’t know” instead? Not a fearful “I don’t know,” or a doubtful one. Just an “I don’t know” that’s open to every possibility, excluding none. An unsticky state of mind. Unattached to the explanations that bubble up inside. Unimpressed by the fireworks. Uninterested in the seductive fantasies and the magnetic nightmares. “I don’t know. I don’t need to know. I don’t want to know.” With that, the thoughts become like junk mail. I don’t read my junk mail. I’m not sure how the junk mail people found my name and address, but they did, and they won’t stop sending me stuff. It keeps coming and coming, and I suppose it always will, but I never read any of it. I take a glance and I throw it out, every time. Unattached. Unimpressed. Uninterested.
My attempts at understanding infinity and my place within it: beautiful junk mail. Even just the little stuff – trying to understand why she did this, why he did that, and guessing at what they’ll do next – well-intentioned junk mail, just doing its best to protect me and make me happy.
The futility of trying to know. The freedom of not needing to.