The entire Hollywood paradigm (I’m hating that name) its supported by a fragile pillar: “I know that once I achieve my goal I’ll be happy and I know this thought is true.” I wake up every morning, I work, I buy stuff, I live, but I don’t question the believes I have about my goals. Sooner or later I’ll get what I’m looking for, so in the meantime I behave like a happy robot that knows that the order that he has in his head are correct.
How does the robot know that his goals are correct? Where does this certainty come from? How do I know that what I want to achieve is really going to make me happy or complete? How do I know which path is better in order to achieve my goal? Why do I want that and not something else? Is that the purpose of my life? Why I’m alive?
(Wow, deep questions!. No wonder the robot refuse to look inside his head)
I can elaborate all sort of answer to those deep questions, but they all have something in common: all of them are believes, and are only valid as long as I believe them. I can believe that having more money will make me happy and that this is the purpose of my life. I can think that once I reach enlightenment I’ll feel complete, or that enlightenment is not something you can achieve, is something that I just am. I can think that I’m some god’s creation or that I live in the Matrix. But regardless of the source of my believes (science, religion, philosophy, Tv, wikipedia, etc) the only way those thoughts can have any power is if I believe them. That’s How I make them real.
I assume other people are way more talented to do that. Somehow they pick a believe or a believe system that allows them to answer those fundamental questions and they run with it. They believe it so hard that they turn those simple thoughts into realities. I don’t know how they do that, I find it really hard to do. When I see the amount of believes system that exist, I just don’t know how to pick only one and forget that they are all just fictions that others have created. Or in the case that one believe system is objectively truth or better, I have no idea how to find it among millions and millions of ideas. I just don’t know how to do it…
I just don’t know…
Strangely “I don’t know” is the only answer that I can came up with that does not need to be believed in order to be real. Well, maybe it’s also a believe, but it’s what I naturally respond to those deep questions. It’s not a pretty answer, but it’s an honest reflection of what I feel. All the other answer are simply things I made up in a failed attempt to deny or hide what I feel deep inside: “I don’t know”
Any goal I set out is in the future, therefore is something I haven’t experience yet. It’s something that without any doubt I don’t personally know. I don’t know if I’ll be happy once I earn tons of money. I can believe that I’ll be happy, but deep down I can’t really know it for sure. Any goal, any solution, it’s just an idea I have chosen to believe in.
I don’t know which is the better way to achieve that goal either. If I’d really know how to do it, and is something that I have always known, why haven’t I achieve my objectives yet?. I can think of different excuses but if I continuously fail, then I must admit that there’s something that is missing. There’s something I don’t know.
As a result, “I don’t know” is the place in which I’m standing right know. What’s the point of denying this?. Maybe some people are born with certainties and other are born with uncertainties. I don’t know. Or maybe there will come a time when I know something for sure. But right now, I feel that I know nothing.
What happen if instead of running away from this uncertainty I embrace it?
I get rid of all the believes I’m carrying and I quietly sit down in this desolated landscape. The first thing I feel is fear. There’s no reference point, everything is unknown and the million years of human evolution that I carry in my DNA indicates me that “unknown” equals bad things. This generate stress that I could easily fix believing in something, attaching myself to a believe, any believe. I simply need and idea, doesn’t matter if it is real or not!. I need something that takes me away from this existential emptiness.
At this point is easy to think that the problem is simply the believes I had in the first place. Maybe those believes were false and that’s what causing me stress. If my believe was that having more money will make me happy, and that isn’t true, then maybe the opposite is true: “Having more money won’t make me happy”. There you go, problem solved!. I can hold on to this new thought and build a life around it.
I haven’t solve anything actually. The only thing I have done is replace one believe for another. I’m still trapped in the same circle of blindly believing my thoughts. I still relate with my believes in the same way, and I already know how that feels like.
What I’m trying to do is going back to the uncertainty, to the point where I question my believe but I don’t yet hear an answer. I’m trying to remain within the doubt. “MAYBE waving more money will make me happy, MAYBE don’t.” (Sounds a little bit like Schrödinger’s cat experiment right before opening the box, isn’t it?)
If I stay long enough in this place, dealing with fear and uncertainty, I start to see there’s some beauty about it. Yes, it does feel awkward, but from this place there’re no ideas to defend, there’s no personality that I can attach to, no believes either. I don’t need to argue with others to defend and reinforce my believes, I don’t need to spend hours planning how I’m gonna do to achieve something. All the energy that was previously destined to keep my believes alive it’s now free and I can use that for better purposes.
“I don’t know what I want. I don’t know how to achieve what I supposedly wanted. And it’s ok to not know.”
This way of thinking makes me feel calm. It takes away the burden of having to do things in the right/correct way. I’m no longer trying to pass a test of which I know nothing about. Every time I decide to do something, I don’t have to go trough the whole cycle of asking myself over and over again if what I have chosen is right, if it was the best thing I could have done, what would have happen if have chosen another option, etc. I simply accept that I have no fucking clue!. I don’t know If what I have chosen is right, and there’s no reason why I should know. I don’t need to be right. I embrace uncertainty, I allow my self to not know. And along with that, in some way, I’m allowing me to be myself, because this is what I’m experiencing right now.
Another important thing about this is not turning the whole idea of not knowing into a believe itself. Is an attitude that I can, or can not, use to face certain situation, but it’s not an static believe system that I keep in my head.
Yesterday I was listening some people talk about sacred geometry and other mystical subjects. At some point I began to feel a lot of rejection towards what they were talking about. It started to annoy me the confidence they have about their ideas, the fact that they didn’t even question themselves about whether or not those things are real or not. It bothered me that they didn’t admit they “don’t know” if those ideas are right. This is where I’ve turned the idea of not knowing into a believe system, and not only that, but I’m also expecting others to join me into this not-knowing philosophy. I have started to know that I know nothing (yep, just like my friend Socrates.). That’s completely different from an attitude of ignorance. If I admit that I know nothing and I really commit to that then I must acknowledge that I don’t know if what they are saying is true or not. Maybe it is!, and sacred geometry holds the true about our entire universe, I don’t know!. The point is that I don’t wanna miss that just because I feel I have to defend my own believes, and the other people is force to think in the same way I do.
That is something I found great about this approach: It opens me to the possibility of really LISTEN to another fellow human being. It allows me to receive advises, to learn, to incorporate truly new things to my being. Even things that contradict my previous believes. I can do that because I have no believes to defend. Is a way of getting out of some cognitive biases that I carry.
Even if, at some point, I choose to believe in something, this attitude allows me to move between believes. There’s some kind of flexibility that remains underneath the believes and that allows me to recognize that I’m consciously choosing to believe in something. In other words, I know that any believe is just a possibility among other believes, it’s not absolutely truth, yet I attach to a particular believe just because I want to experience what it feels like to believe that thought.
It’s not just an openness towards other people’s opinions, but a openness toward life itself. By not knowing what will happen and not trying to predict it, I’m giving back to life the possibility to surprise me. Normally, before doing something I think whether or not I’m going to like the results of my actions. I have expectations about the future. But, do I really know what’s going to happen next? does it make sense to compare the real outcomes with the ideas I have in my mind? I think that if I get to attached to my own expectations and decided everything based on that, I don’t leave any room to surprises, to the unknown. What if I simply do something with no expectations?, just to see what happen.
Have you ever played scrabbel?
In this game I have a fixed number of letters that I can use to form words. Certain words can not be created simply because I lack the letters needed. Ergo, the letters I have are a limit. The same thing happens inside my head: I have a number of believes and the things I can create with those believes are limited. I can still form great words with the letters I have, but I’m always within the realms of my mind.
Let my try to link this with the previous topic: From time to time I might see a sad image of the future inside my head, not because I want to, simply because inside I don’t have the thoughts (letters) needed to create a happier version of the future (words). Maybe with the letters I have I can only create the word “money” and I feel that If I only have a clear chance to put that word in the board I would be really happy. I might be right, perhaps with that word I’ll gain some points. However obsessing over that word or idea reduce the chances I have to win the game. If at some point life offers me a “W”, for example, I’ll reject it because it’s not useful to form the word I so desperately want to create. Maybe life will even offer me letters in Cyrillic or Thai, and just because those letters are to weird compared with the ones I have, I’ll reject them.
What I’m trying to say here is that if I don’t dare to question my believes and desires, if I don’t dare to undo the word “money”, I won’t be able to see that I can create all types of words. I do want to form the word “money” but I have to acknowledge that I don’t know for sure if that’s the winning word, I want to allow my self that kind of mental flexibility.
I already have a lot of letters/believes that I didn’t choose: the place on earth where I was born, the historical moment, my family, etc. Nevertheless, closing myself to the possibility of incorporate new letters, or even to trough away the ones I have, is a decision I’m making on my own. I can revert this situation. Accepting that “I don’t know” allows me to evaluate other options, allows to incorporate letters that otherwise I would have reject. I believe this humbling and flexible approach is the only way of create truly new things.
The last thing I would like to highlight about this analogy is that the thoughts and believes that I’ll hold on my mind will always be limited. From all the alphabets in the world, the ones that existed before me and the ones that have not yet been created, I can only access to an small amount of letters. That’s why regardless of maybe having a lot of letters I have to be humble enough to realize that I still know nothing.
As -apparently- Napoleon once said: “Wise men looks for wisdom, fools believe they have found it.”