Monday, December 19, 2011

Hungry Ghosts!

     As the holidays approach and with it the glitter of Christmas lights, the chill air inviting a warm fire and the cozy security of hot chocolate and family, the laughter of children, old movies reminding us of cheer and goodwill, and of course the ever present invitations of generosity, peace on earth, and love, I am overcome with what can only be described as, well...implacable terror.
     Christmas is one of the most terrifying holidays.  Ever.
     Not necessarily because of the bustle of shopping madness, the return of the scads of ordinary people long past the age of responsible driving, or even that I must, at some point, actually go to Wal-Mart.  I’m stricken with sudden spellbinding fear because, you see, Christmas is haunted by ghosts.
     Specifically, my hungry, hungry ghosts.
     If you are not familiar with the term, Hungry Ghosts are the specters of desire with long skinny necks and enormous bellies, who, despite their gluttony, are never satisfied.  They arise from the depths of lack, and while usually held at bay by logic, reason, and sanity, at this time of year are given full reign to wander the landscape of my inner being, dragging their noisy chains and generally wreaking havoc with my sense of presence and peace of mind.
     The ghosts write the lists, my friends, and they have impeccable penmanship.
     Let’s take, for example, my number one hobby.
     Okay, that’s not for polite company, how about my number two hobby:  Photography.
     Anyone who has been seriously intrigued by the art of photography knows the scoop. With the possible exception of collecting sports cars ala Jay Leno or climbing Everest twice a year, photography is one of the most expensive hobbies to have.  It is punctuated by endless possessed shrieks of “I need more!”
     I need a new camera, because this camera came out 3 years ago, and is old and outdated and still has an actual PRINTED manual, obviously designed for the computer illiterate unfamiliar with the wonders of PDF.  I need a better, faster lens!  Not an F4, lens, but an F2 lens, no…not an F2…I need an F1.2!!   Not this tripod, but that tripod, not aluminum but carbon fiber, of course. I need these filters, and this wireless shutter release, and I need that sherpa to hump my stuff from car to field. I need a better software program, not Elements 7, not Elements 8 or 9, nor 10, nor Lightroom, Bridge, no, I need CS4, no CS5…no…I need a full time editing assistant with a mindscape chock full of Photoshop actions.
     Oh, I’m not the only one to blame!  I show a photograph I think is admirable to someone, and they almost inevitably respond:  “You must have a REALLY good camera!”   As though the camera is taking the picture, and I am only the poor clicker on the end.
     Or even more enigmatically, they say, “You sure have a good eye!” 
Ahh…but to improve, to take better pictures, I need better, more advanced, the latest, greatest EYES!
And the sad thing is:   This is all true.
All True.
If my goal is take pictures, then I will always need a better camera, a different lens, more equipment, more this, more that.
If my goal is to take pictures, I will never be satisfied, and of course, neither will my hungry ghosts.
But, my goal is not to take pictures.
My goal is to MAKE pictures.
And in order to MAKE pictures, wanting and hoping and desiring for more and more, better and better does nothing for me!   If my goal is to MAKE pictures, my hungry ghosts will only distract me from what I really need to do, which is course, to see what I have.
     I have to look.  To really look.
What do I have?
Light.  And light’s mysterious lover, shadow. 
To make pictures, I must be intimate with the elements of design arising now, and be keenly aware of my subject and the relation of positive and negative space.  I must see what I have; I must interact with what is present in that decisive moment, with what is available, when it is available.
Creativity springs from unequivocal presence; from being so lovingly attentive to what is happening now that the deep, dark well of lack from which the Hungry Ghosts spring is flooded with such a blinding light that everything is illuminated.   I’m talkin’ F64. 
     The Hungry Ghosts are not bad, you see.  They are just fast talkers, persuasive and they have you, and me, and just about everyone convinced and right now is not enough.  They have convinced us that they are real.
You already have everything you will ever need.
You are already everything that you ever need to be.
All you have to do is Look...

     In this fabulous movie, our main character, who is ourselves, seems to have everything, and must lose everything to see what he really has and who he really is.  A wonderful film, and this clip includes a great song from Radiohead:

Friday, October 21, 2011


Well, it is almost Halloween, so the time seems appropriate to talk about our favorite emotion:
I mean, FEAR is your favorite emotion, isn’t it?
Funny, you would think that more people would admit to fear being the juiciest BFF of our emotional spectrum.  After all, wouldn’t you agree it is perhaps the emotion that we feel the most?
We can expect to feel sad, maybe what- a few times a week?  Real sadness, not like when your favorite team loses, which really is just disappointment masquerading as sadness, but that visceral belly dropping depression of true sadness.  Perhaps not even a few times a week, maybe less?  And we might revisit the feelings that we experienced during those first few moments of falling in love, and we look for reminders of those sweet expressions in our current moments, but really, how often do we actually LIVE that incredible free fall of surrender like we did the first time?  For reals?
We might feel anger, we hope not much more than a few times a week, right?  We don’t stay there long- anger (for most of us) has a short shelf life, and morphs readily into guilt, or regret, which if you look closely, is just another form of FEAR- the fear that something that we have done or not done may affect us later.
And what about happiness?  How many times a week can we expect super exhilarating mid blowing ecstatic happiness?  Okay, how about:  how many times a month?  A year?  Do we even entertain the notion that daily bouts of overwhelming bliss are available to us?  Probably not, unless of course we happen to be a porn star.
Yet, how many times do we feel fear?  Every day.  Little fears and big fears.  And don’t forget the expressions of fear: worry- which is fear that a future situation will turn out differently than what we expect, and again, regret.  It is not so much, “Oh, what have I done!”, but “Oh, how is this going to screw me up later!?!”
We love fear.  Admit it!  We’ll pay good money for it!  We’ll dive out of perfectly good airplanes, jump off of bridges tethered by rubber bands, hell, well pay to watch our fellow humans being eviscerated on the big screen.  We have a holiday devoted to it!  Which makes the most money, do you suppose?  Our holiday dedicated to love, or our holiday dedicated to fear?
What other emotion do we actively seek out?  We certainly don’t go searching for homeless people and road kill cats so we can get a fix of sadness, do we?  We turn the channel when the starving African kids appear.  Can you imagine going to the movies and spending 20 bucks for a big ass guilt trip?  I sure don’t see myself attending that premier, even if there is free popcorn.
So, we love to be afraid.  We love it!
Why then, do we deny our fear?
If you really look, we have a dysfunctional relationship with fear.  We think that fear is a defect of character, don’t we?  A weakness.  Something to get over, or move past.  We applaud people who “look fear in the eye”.  We convince our children to buck up and face what they fear is in the closet, and then encourage them to dress up and hide in their own mind, where the scary shit really lives.
Fear gets a bad rap.  Is it possible, that fear is really just a messenger?  That fear is simply like Toto, ripping the curtain away and revealing that the fake wizard behind it is really just an old pervert?
In other words, fear alerts us to the opportunity to discover whether the object of our fear is true, or not true. Real, or to borrow a cheesy self-help phrase: simply False Evidence Appearing Real.
Have you heard that tired story of the rope and the snake?  You come home in the evening and walk into a dimly lit room, and there in the corner you spy a coiled snake.  Fear!  Suddenly, your body reacts just as it supposed to when confronted by something that is potentially harmful.  Our normal reaction is, of course, to fight – “look fear in the eye” or to run like hell.   Either way, we don’t stop and investigate.  Is what I see true?  We just end up feeling a different emotion: embarassment. From either running away like a little girl, or for attacking a coiled rope with a double barreled shotgun.
Fear reminds us to investigate.  Certainly we don’t need to investigate when being confronted by a rabid bear, but the fact is we react psychologically and physiologically the same way when we are frozen in a state of fear about the outcome of an event or a worry about an imagined future as we do when we run into Mickey Rourke in a dark alley.  And do we stop and investigate?  How true is this; this that I fear?
Denying fear is like punt kicking Toto while he is reaching for the curtain, and then feeling all high and mighty about “looking fear in the eye”.
Denial of fear, in other words, is missing the opportunity that fear provides us to investigate the Truth in the objects of our fears.  Denial of fear is, perhaps, Vanity in the biblical sense:
“I have seen all the works done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, and a chasing after wind”.

What, right now, are you afraid of?   Is it true?

Here of course, is the seminal clip:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lost In A Wonderful Wilderness Of Miracles

     In the past few years, I have had everyone from wise yet perpetually cranky pony-tailed Jewish anti-gurus and angelic blond and fantastically bendy yoga teachers; from regular Joe reluctant teachers of no-thing, to mean beady eyed, beedie smoking Indian saints pointing and screaming in Marathi all telling me the same thing:  that all there is, is this: 
     Now, this experience, these fingers pecking this melody on this keyboard, these eyes scanning the spaces, seeking the ground in which the blank marks arise, this right here, and nothing more, except of course, in the unchartered terrain of always changing, always shifting, never satisfied, and always impermanent thought.
    Yet, here I am, in the midst of impending miracles, so many!  I am lost in soft blue hues, pink ruffles, first burps, and wide eyes staring in awareness, and the cooing of first musical syllables, tiny gripping fingers, the pulse of two heartbeats joined and strong…I am constantly shaken into a soft sway, into swaddling, into a long sleepless night of joy and constant questioning, and pain…yes, tiredness and fear, here comes the Little Engine That Could, and I’ll jump aboard and ride that train straight into terror, of the unknown and my every possible triumph; my every inevitable failing. 
     How could I not?  How could I not follow the thread of thought into hope, and dream, and fantasy and fear?  Miracles abound!  At every stop ahead there are miracles!  I crane my neck and dodge the wind so I can see, because just ahead, a Golden Ticket, and…
     And then, I stop, and re-remember.  I am walking silently in a maze of miracles, a forest of wonder.  All around me a never ending mosaic of beauty, of growing, of becoming.  I’m constantly showered by falling moments, and in each one, A Golden Ticket.  A touch of blossoming belly, a smile of knowing, the excitement of what is happening now: the unknown blooming inside and a laugh of love, a frown of fear, a sharing of unquestioned tears.
     In this moment:  closeness
     In this:  anger
     In this: worry
     In this: boundless joy
     In this: nervous expectation
     In this:  There is, this.
     In this:  A Miracle

     I wrote what follows quite a while ago, with a whole different purpose in mind, mostly a silly laugh.  And strangely I see now how applicable it is, in it's sillyness, as even though I am so wonderfully lost in this landscape of miracles, I am constantly reminded that I am always Home.

     There is a curious malady which overcomes you, say, when you are hiking the backwoods or deserts of your world; perhaps even in the mall if you are wearing crappy shoes.  At some point, after you have discovered the beautiful waterfall, the Indian ruins, or the happy drunk leprechaun handing out the 20 dollar bills, suddenly, the whole thing just seems, well, over, and really, you just want to go home. 
     Here is where it gets interesting, because wouldn't it be nice if you could just whisper some code word into your combination altimeter, barometer, thermometer, calorie countin' superman secret agent IPhone, and whooooosh!  Here comes your private chopper to pluck your sorry ass from the wilderness or the Starbucks and back to your lovely, most perfect life?
     Alas, most of us don't own helicopters, so therefore we must deal with this strange and worrisome condition of the mind:  GetHomeitis.  This condition is not only dangerous, it is potentially deadly.  GetHomeitis is characterized by the increasing urge, verging on dementia, to be finished with what is happening now, where we are, and just get home, which must be exponentially better.  At least this is what the never satisfied mind is desperately trying to convince you.  The beauty and wonder of the natural world suddenly take a backseat to the imagination and it’s never ending derangement.  It's a curious mechanism of human physiology- the more exhausted and stressed the body, the more the mind elevates what is familiar to iconic levels.   Your spouse is so much more loving; your house so much more comfortable, the football game so much more important, McDonalds is like the best most nutritious wonder food on the planet!  Even your car, waiting patiently for you at the trailhead or the parking lot, is not just a very tired early millenium Jeep with hope in place of air conditioning, it is a miraculous safe haven, protecting you from the stickers, pickers, cacti and shin daggers you have been wading through and the perfume and lotion salespeople you have been dodging for the last six hours, not to mention the hillbillies who have been obviously following you, undoubtedly interested mostly in your ability to squeal like a pig.    
     The result of a bad case of GetHomeitis is a kind of self-hypnosis.  All enjoyment is replaced with the burning desire to just get home.  You will plow through cat's claw, ripping your clothes to shreds, bound through ice cold creeks on snot slippery stones right into the self-help section of the bookstore, desperately searching for the way out.  You will brush jumping cacti until your pant legs are pincushions; you will ignore the blisters and thorns and heat exhaustion and tarantulas and mountain lions and the lost goldmine you just walked past; indeed- you will walk straight off the edge of a 10 thousand foot cliff- all to satisfy the only concrete notion that you can hold in your burning brain- I HAVE TO GET HOME!
     And, commonly, in your trancelike state induced by your overwhelming need to go home, you will walk right past the trail junction or signpost that will take you there, and wander the desert maze of trail or tile, lost and delirious until you are dead enough for the vultures to swoop down upon.
     To make matters worse, if they can be worse, there is no cure for GetHomeitis.  Indeed, even if you somehow live and find yourself limping happily in your front door, you will rediscover that the mortgage on your castle is milking you dry, your Honey Do list has grown exponentially since you have been gone, your kids want McDonalds six times a week, and you can't even watch the football game because your teenage son is sitting in the living room with five of his stoned buddies watching Heavy Metal Mania on MTV.  And suddenly you are afflicted with another condition, one just as urgent and just as dangerous: 
     And, helicopter or no, back into the wilderness you shall go.

     I’ll stay lost, right here, in this wonderful wilderness of Miracles.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Superman At Macys

     I have been interested in writing about identity for quite some time, but have not been really sure about how to approach the topic, and so I’ve been hesitant to explore it here.  But, it’s niggling, constantly nagging me, like a scab you just can’t keep from picking.  And since, if we really look closely, identity (or the mistake therein) seems to be perhaps the catalyst to the wonderful seeking and glorious suffering that we all continually share, I’ve decided to write about it in my usual fashion, which is to randomly type a bunch of meaninglessness and wait and see if anything that remotely resembles a point happens to emerge.
     When I first began this blog and decided on the name, I envisioned “The Edge of the Infinite” as a metaphor for that cliff we teeter on, the unstable and scary periphery between our intellectual understanding of Truth, and our being Truth.  That place where we peer over the edge, perhaps still, for whatever reason, not ready to let loose our own fragile footing, desperately afraid of the inevitable hang time that will occur when we finally just allow the fall.  But also I see it as the sharp edge of honesty- that the opposite of Truth is a Lie, and how can we not be carrying around our lies?  How can I not be a person?  Blame it on the damn Greeks.
     You see, I have lived an inauthentic life.
     I have misrepresented myself; personified a constant living distortion.  I am guilty of misconception, misinformation, gross libel.  I’m the jester of jive, an expert at exaggeration. 

     Who I have portrayed myself to be, is a fraud.
     And, now looking back as I take a casual stroll down amnesia lane, I see that my dishonesty has always been true, the one thread of my entire experience of life has been the constant companion of inauthenticity.
     Remember a thousand years ago, back in high school?  There were really just two types of people in high school, right? There were beautiful people, and invisible people.  Myself, I wasn’t necessarily interested in the people who wore the labels, but rather how to transcend the labels themselves.  How to be beautifully invisible?  So I wore my hair long, dressed in ratty grunge clothing, shared perpetual red eyes with the Stoners, but made straight A’s, and had metaphysical conversations with the Nerds.  I made it a point to sit with the “prep” boys in assembly, yet I spent every lunch hour in the library with my face buried in Plato, alone.  Seemingly socially awkward, I was not at all against participating in class discussions, arguing vehemently with the history teachers about Custer’s engagement strategy during the Battle of Little Big Horn.  I smiled, not intimidated, at the cheerleaders.  

     But I was only bluffing.
     And then on to the world of adulthood- a perpetual shopping trip in a world of too small clothes.  Trying them on, and convinced they fit, wearing them with pride despite the constant discomfort. 
     There is giant rolled up white glove of humbug which smacks me in the face, on a continual loop. 
     I’m a starving artist, a wanna-be writer, transgressional poet, dutiful employee, a corporate whore. 
     I’m a spiritual person, an intellectual person, an honest person, a not-so-honest person.
     I am a historical revisionist, conscientious conservationist, a nature lover of inner landscape. 
     I’m a teacher, a student, a greasy pitchman of viewpoints, none of them True.
      I am an okay husband, a pretty good father, and a bad son.
     Oh, don’t forget.  I’m a seeker of Truth.
     Look at me, still roaming the halls with my backpack of masks.

     Then what am I?

    To know yourself, be yourself.

    To be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that.*

     Such good news!
     It is not the wearing of the mask, the assuming of the identity, that creates my suffering, it is my forgetting that it is simply a mask.  When I forget, then I must continually convince YOU of the validity of the assumed ME. 

     I must perpetually defend the viewpoints and actions of this assumed me, less it will be seen through.  It will be discovered for what it truly is. 
     What do you imagine yourself to be?  
     Anything that can be imagined cannot be True.

What if Superman somehow forgot that he was Superman, and really believed that he WAS Clark Kent?

* Nisargadatta Maharaj

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Name is Michael, And I Am an Addict

My name is Michael, and I am an addict. 
I’m not addicted to drugs, or alcohol, or sex (although there might be some debate about that one), food, or even to watching corny TV shows like American Idol or Glee.  Okay, maybe Glee.  No, I am not addicted to Glee!  Okay, maybe I am.
No, no…my addiction is much more insidious, much more devastating. 
See, I am addicted to experience.
I love experiences.  Love  ‘em.  I love the experience of the warmth of this cup of coffee I’m having right now, the explosion of flavor as I take a drink.  I love the experience of the sunshine on my arms and the wind against my skin as I ride my bike south on 56th street; right where the pavement turns to dirt, with the Mcdowells standing guard over the Eastern horizon and Ben Harper’s magnificent Weissenborn tickling my ears.  I love the energy of movement as 10 beautiful people dive headfirst into their own experience at the insistence of my voice, their breath mingling with my breath, their bodies a wave of integrated Shakti illuminating the room.  I love the sweetness of the mornings, listening to Mozart’s symphony #1 in E-flat on my way to work, and even the way this keyboard is responding to my fingers right now, how the photographs on my screensaver remind me of other past experiences. I love how my body opens when my muscles are warm, when there is perfection in form, my being lovingly held by sinuous fingers and bursting forth with boundless expression. I love the sound of a drum, and the openness of my friends.  I love the warmth of my wife’s touch, the music of her voice, and especially the tinkling wonder of her laughter, even when it is directed at me, as it usually is. 
I even love the “bad” experiences.  I love when I am sick and I think it is the end of the world simply because I have an overabundance of mucus and Emma won’t give me a kiss because I have cooties and my voice sounds like a Peanut’s cartoon teacher in my own ears.  I love when I have a shitty yoga class, and my body won’t respond the way that I want it to, and my back hurts, and there are sudden elaborate fantasies in my mind of beating people over the head with pieces of prosthetic equipment.  I love thinking of my grandfather, his brutal honesty, his meeting and leaving life with the same conviction and dedication. I love when my wife is angry at me, and the blinding spotlight of attention is turned inward, toward my every beautiful failing, my every wondrous fault.  I love the tremble of her lip and the lash of her tongue. 
I love standing at the side of the road with a flat tire on my bike, alone in the world, with no one to call and no one to help, the traffic whizzing by, faces in the car windows blank with memories, the sun a bright white hot scar, the sky open and inviting but offering nothing.  Alone at the bottom of West Clear Creek Canyon, with the monsoon thundering, swimming naked in the rushing creek, the last man on earth:

I won't be the last
I won't be the first
Find a way to where the sky meets the earth
It's all right and all wrong
For me it begins at the end of the road
We come and go...

My name is Michael, and I am an addict

What is it about experience then that I am so addicted to? 

Feel this.  Do that. 
Perhaps, just perhaps, experience provides me with a sense of something…like…say...relief?
Relief from what?
I want the experience of love; because I feel…I don’t have love.  So then I seek the experience of love- in family, in relationship, even within myself.
I want the experience of security, because I feel...insecure.  Vulnerable.  So I seek the experience of security, in money, in work, in a good 401K, shore up my health, take precautions against the surety of my eventual and inevitable demise.
I want the experience of virtue; because I feel...I am not virtuous.  So I try to live according to tenets, be a good person, whether that entails being kind, being selfless, helping grandmas across the street, not hurting animals, or saving the whales.  Or saving you, because I want the experience of showing you virtue.  Because I feel…that you are also not virtuous.
I want the experience of happiness, because I feel...I am not happy.  So I look for happiness in every experience.
I want the experience of Freedom.  Because I feel…I am not free.  And that is when it hits me!
There is no experience of freedom.  Freedom is the absence of the addiction to experience. 
Feel this.  Do that.
And the questioning now leads me, not to the answer, but to the purpose of the question:  All questioning, all spirituality, all religion, all seeking, all experience itself has only one essential purpose.  Everything I do, everything I am has only one quintessential purpose:
Experience is so fickle, so fleeting.  Experience comes and goes, leaving no real lasting impression, save perhaps memories, which are really nothing more than bundles of emotionally charged thoughts.
Experience doesn’t last. 
My addiction to experience leads me to only to death.  All the experiences, from the blazing awakenings and tear jerkingly beautiful to the devastatingly tragic – come and go.  The only constant is Me, yet I’m banking on what is Other than me, to provide relief, comfort, peace, fulfillment, happiness.  My addiction to experience leads me only to the death of the addiction to experience.
I am addicted to experience so that I can exhaust myself of experience; wear myself out, give up, finally stop running, towards experience, or away from experience.  Always seeking something that continually changes and is never permanent.
I am so in love with the experience of being addicted to experience. 
When running, desperately looking for rest, you have a choice:
Stop running.
Run faster.

My name is Michael, and I am an addict.

Yes, this is hard to watch, but watch it all.  Watch it move from tragic to heart wrenchingly beautiful.  But most of all, listen.  Listen to Rocky’s poem at the very end, where he sums up the finality of experience in one final, illuminating breath.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No Tradebacks

When I was born, I WAS GOD.

I was God, and in those moments when I struggled
through sweat and screams and slipped into the cold hard hands
of this reality, I held EVERYTHING


my tiny
clenched fists.

I was GOD and I held every question to every answer
every answer that has ever been questioned
eternal questions
internal answers
I whispered external
in sweet placental speech
                                             delivered into a world of pinky fingers.

I was GOD
born reciting bibles
proverbs texts and tablets
sermons and psalms
translating truth
speaking cosmology
in every dialect known to man
and some unknown

                                             And they taught me language
                                             with chin tickling fingers and funny faces
                                             goo goo ga ga  coochie coochie coo.

I was solving problems
converting mathematics to bone
physics to muscle
biology to blood
I was building intricate networks of
microfillament tinker toy neuro-electrical synapses
and they said

                                             oh isn't that cute!

I was red and yellow and black and white
and all shades of earth
and they held me in front of a mirror
pointed to my soft shallow shell
over and over
                         Thats you!
                                             Thats you!

until I could no longer recognize myself.

I defied gravity because I breathed magic
They grounded me
holding my hands, cooing

take a step
               take a step

when I was already leaping off the planet
leaving them all behind

I sat in the sun
feeling grass and dirt pulse
intimately conversing with trees and sky
discussing the developing universe
and the existential qualities of man
drinking rain and feasting on clouds
and they came along
scooped me up
brushed me off
scolded me

                                             Now look! 

You peed your pants!
You pooped your diaper!

I played with angels unicorns and dragons
made faces at gargoyles
My imaginary friends were ancestors
I danced with elves and faires through
fields of non-fiction BECAUSE THERE WAS

I was GOD!


I traded it all in

I offered them every key to every past and every future
to every lock and chain
every shackle of every heart and  mind
incarcerated in this prison:

and they said
Now honey, don't play with those, you might lose them
taking them away
pressing into my hand a plastic reproduction
they believed opened all doors.

I gave them the mystery of immortality
they gave me superheroes and Scooby-Doo underwear.

I gave them future personified
they gave me a Big Wheel and a Brady Bunch lunchbox.

I gave them hope
they gave me history, I repeat
history, I repeat


I gave them eternity
they gave me bedtime.

I traded it all in

No tradebacks.

I learned to see with my eyes
and all my imaginery friends disappeared     


left me

became cold   



I was god
No tradebacks

But you know, I don't blame them.
don't hold it against them
don't judge them
I love them even more

We are all

and it is so easy learning to forget

so difficult this journey through life
grasping to remember

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Miraculous Free Fall Into Unknowing

We are, you could say, a species of know-it-alls.  Not just know-it-alls, but the worst kind of know-it-alls.

We are the know-it-alls that are sometimes right. 

How annoying.

Even when we don’t know, we think we know.  We just plain hate to not know. In fact, there is such a stigma attached to not knowing that it permeates every facet of our lives.  Think about it:

In school, the teacher asks a difficult question, and no one raises their hand.  Remember this?  Remember being the student sweating in fear that you will be called upon.  Even if you thought you knew the answer, being called upon was still overwhelmingly frightening.  What if I am not right?  What if the terrible horrible devastatingly embarrassing truth that I DON’T KNOW is revealed for all to see!

How does it feel to be called “ignorant”?   Feels kinda nasty.  Like there is something in this word that is insulting to your character.  Most people equate “ignorant” with “stupid” and the words are used interchangeably. Yet, the definition of “ignorant” is simply:

Ignorant.  (adj): Lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact.

It simply means not knowing.

We have such a deep dysfunctional relationship with not knowing that we do everything in our power to avoid admitting it, even to ourselves.

We simply do not know what the next moment will bring, and this is unacceptable to our conditioned mind, which then creates a scenario and imagines that it knows, and the result of this is expectation.  

Expectation is a symptom of our internal avoidance of the reality of not knowing, and creates what could be called the root of suffering:  the gap between what we think should be happening (could happen, should happen, will happen) and what actually is happening.

How does this work out for us?

Things simply happen, despite what we expect.  We cannot know. No matter how much we rely on our conceptual learning, our thoughts, to shield us from the dangerous territory of the unknown, we end up in that dreaded landscape.

Yet, the unknown is the ground of all knowing! 

There can never be anything known without there first being not-knowing!

See how ridiculous this is?  How delusional?  We have a negative perspective, a dysfunctional relationship, with the natural, inevitable, completely necessary fundamental building block of all knowing! 

And herein lies the paradox, at least when it comes to spirituality:

This extreme discomfort with not-knowing fuels our motivation to learn and experience. 

We turn our learned ideas and concepts into a cocktail of belief and faith.  This conceptual cocktail becomes who we think we are and how we see the world and our place in it, and we then must expend enormous amounts of energy defending, reinforcing it, and holding onto it. 

We take stories told to us and things we have read to have meaning, and assign that meaning to our own experience, diluting what is happening in the present moment, to our interpretation of what is happening.   

We mistake what we think we know for who we are. 

And of course, what we think we know is different than what someone else thinks they know,  and there must be a right and a wrong, and usually it is them that are wrong.  And if our concepts that we have mistaken for “ourselves” are questioned, or spoken against, we must defend them, as we are engaged here in the literal act of self-survival.

Even if it is “right for me” or “wrong  for me”, it is still a duality.


So we think the more we learn, the more we memorize, the more we understand, the closer and closer we will get to the Truth, to God, Peace, Oneness, in whatever name or form you chose to call it. 

Yet the fact is, the Truth cannot be known. 

Can you consider that everything you have learned must be questioned relentlessly and discarded?  Can you consider that the point of questions is not answers, but instead, more questions, leading to more questions, until the questioning is exhausted.   Until it is seen that all questions and all answers are meaningless?

What is it like to let go of all conceptualizations, all viewpoints, all ideas?  Is it possible to relax into the miraculous free fall of not-knowing?

In this classic clip, Lou isn’t pissed because Bud is fucking with him.  Bud is serious.  Lou is agonizingly frustrated because he doesn’t know no matter how much he learns! 

Seem familiar?  Kinda like stumbling around, looking for your own eyeballs.