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what is ‘not knowing’?

bernieIn yesterdays post I mentioned a stance of not knowing when dealing with matters beyond my comprehension. I admit that I’m not sure of the term as it’s understood in Zen Buddhism. I’d hate to be using it as a cover-up for my ignorance. There’s more to it …

Bernie Glassman is co-founder of the Zen Peacemakers, a socially-engaged order guided by the three tenets of Not Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Loving Action. During a lecture at Harvard University he explained–

Not knowing has nothing to do with knowledge. My sense is that one should have as much knowledge as possible. Learn as many languages as you can. Study as many fields as you can. Penetrate as deeply as you can. Learn all the tools and the techniques. Fill up your bag with as much stuff as you can. You have to know. I studied a lot when I was young, when I was middle-aged, and now I am old. I enjoy studying and I think there is huge value in more study and knowledge.

Not knowing is simply not being attached to any particular piece of knowledge. In the same way, it is also not rejecting any piece of knowledge. You hear something and say “Ah! That’s ridiculous! Forget it!” If you hear something, try responding “Well, maybe that is possible also.” “Oh! That’s another way of looking at it.” Add that to your set of knowledge; don’t exclude anything. Keep adding, and don’t stick to one piece of information as if that’s the correct way. The state of not knowing is not being attached to any of the packages that you have.


3 responses »

  1. Thanks! This makes me think of bit about different people discovering various parts of elephant.

  2. goodmorning p… wanted to tell you that i appreciate your postings which give me room to muse and ponder through the day. thank you.

    • hello nancy, you’ll understand today’s post (pure joy) as it relates to a story we/you have been following for some time. patience … and relentless investigation.


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