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  • Annelisa MacBean

I Don't Know

At times it will appear that nothing is happening on the journey of personal growth, which can lead to the conclusion that we are “stuck,” “not doing it right,” that we’ve failed, fallen short yet again, or have not surrendered enough. The mind has a nearly unlimited capacity to project and then expect and insist on reality showing up in ways that reflect our early neural pathways of shame, self-abandonment, and painful organizations of unworthiness. It is easy and natural to perceive our true nature when we are moving through periods of peace, flow, happiness, and gratitude. But when we are experiencing raging nothingness, flatness, numbness, or confusion, we can become disoriented and will return to our early conditioning for navigational support. The challenge lies in receiving the experience which is currently arising regardless of sensation . . . letting go of meaning. Nothingness, flatness, physical pain, emotional distress . . . what if, before judging and pulling away from these experiences we slow down for a moment, breathe and reimagine.


In a world that is fixated on doing, on answers, on fixing the “other” or stopping “them” and arriving at a location of untouchable, unmoving good feelings, any contradictory activity in the name of love is not appreciated. But we must remember that death is required for new forms of life and creativity to emerge. As an experiment in radical self-compassion, consider giving yourself permission to not-know, for now. Without any shame, judgment, or pressure to urgently find answers or to resolve the mystery, allow yourself to feel uncertain about what to do or how to be next. Feel the doubt and fear that arises when you realize you don’t know how to heal your marriage or help your child or verbalize the pain that lives deep in your bones. Could you die into not-knowing for a minute or an hour; resting and receiving the unfolding of your very human heart. Embodied not-knowing is not a passive or resigned giving up, but an alive, curious, honoring of the dark as well as the light. There is profound wisdom and creativity available at the core of not-knowing, in slowness, in patience, in rest, in receptivity . . . but we must retrain ourselves, up-level our innate capacity to receive revelation from unexpected sources within versus answers from outside of us.

Practicing the quiet, surrendered receptivity of “I don’t know,” is a way of acknowledging that we are practicing death, ego death; simple everyday practices of death that are survivable and life-giving. It becomes increasingly easy to see that not-knowing is a perfectly valid, honorable, and authentic state in which to be, and not in need of transformation. Rather it is the seat of the transformation we seek. “I don’t know,” is a pure expression of willingness to die into life itself, exactly as it is. The value of “I don’t know,” is not in its transcendence of life or death, but in its full-spectrum embrace.




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