Not-knowing is true knowledge. Presuming to know is a disease.Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell
There’s a peculiar condition in which a song takes root and tracks on repeat inside our animal brain. You with me?
I’d been humming “We Three Kings” for a few miles when I found myself idling behind a truck-ish car which announced its operator with two prominent bumper stickers: a Christian cross partnered next to the ever popular confession, “I don’t play well with others.”
These days I take all exchanges as spiritually charged missives and dismiss nothing as chance since last year was literal dying proof that life is short. Watching myself from a distance, I come alive to any offense taken as faulty wiring of the nogin.
So here’s my big opportunity to renovate. I chat with myself about the circuitous grip of judgment which rolled full boil toward a perfect stranger. Pausing to humanize the driver, I frown seeking a gander inside the other vehicle. Blacked out windows. Naturally.
Again…. deep breath of release.
A practice in Buddhism provides tools for unraveling pointless thinking. The vow of unknowing is a peaceful exercise that celebrates a sense of curiosity and even openness which leads to liberation. At the least the application of unknowing can dissolve toxic thoughts which ultimately do harm to another as well as the thinker of such thoughts.
Once we made weekend arrangements to travel to South Beach in Miami. The destination honors our propensity for eclectic people watching, cool beach breezes and ceviche served oceanside.
After checking into our hotel we took time for a leisurely walk to dinner. Shortly we were immersed in a vivacious sea amid people of color. Rubbering necking on our part comes to mind.
Too soon our revelry was interrupted by two white uniformed police officers. They scurried over to inform us that it was Hip Hop weekend in Miami. “Some of these things are not like the others,” said one officer peering over his glasses. The other one said, “Move along, please.”
I first thought funny, ha-ha but in the ensuing years with more insight I have begun to get the price we all pay for dualistic thinking. Recreational judging seems to be a brain leftover from the ancestry who sought to fend off the scary animal and not the gear we need for living in a future where the earth shows up smaller every day.
Since this change of heart can only be accomplished one brain at a time, I began to focus on my own operating system. Why not give unknowning a try and release the thing inside that assumes and judges? A surprise weight loss is guaranteed when guided by that category of love.
And never for a minute think that you won’t get help with this project because once you’re open for business, guess who shows up? And though the light filled entity might be disguised as a regular person, combat with your ego is guaranteed.
Sample this cautionary tale:
Granted I was grumpy that monsoony morning with many first world errands to complete. As I hustled through an upscale grocery to later be delayed in a check out line, I noticed a cheerful but fatigued thirty something woman at the register engaged with an older customer.
The checker said, “Did you notice that these croissants were two packages for one today?” “No,” Miz Customer blasted by way of a knitted brow above her mask.
Pregnant pause. “Would you like for me to get you another package?” Miz nodded and asked for more plastic bags.
I bit my tongue to keep from providing awareness to Miz Customer in the name of the hard working checker. Couldn’t she sashay over to pick up her additional package? Instead I swallowed judgment resulting in a customized hard stare at the bedazzled Miz who appeared to have never worked a day in her life.
After my transaction, I manhandled my basket for a walk to the car. As the grocery doors parted I squared off with a torrential down pour.
So distracted was I that I almost missed standing there the insensitive Miz who had been ahead of me in line. I glanced her way. She greeted me by offering an open umbrella. “You look so nice today that I thought you might need some shelter from the rain so I came back to help,” she said.
Hard to hear it, but pain that is not transformed gets transmitted and that’s how the judgment game unfurls in which case the refuge of unknowing becomes essential in recalling your own precious humanity.
My granddaughter Elodie sized me up this past weekend when she popped with a free for nothing assessment – “Gal, you are the main character.” Knowing that I have her attention, I’ll do my best to make good use of her temporary scrutiny.
Still chatting with myself, I realize there’s no better New Year’s inspiration than a next generation cue. I’ve got work to do.
With such a calling, there’s no contest because this transition appeals to all souls who in intercession recall that the energy spent on judgement flattens while the mysterious light of unknowing promotes a thing called love.