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not-knowing is most intimate

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Where does personal wisdom come from? I don’t mean insights borrowed from books and teachers, but the stuff that bubbles up from somewhere inside. Once in a while a deep sense of knowing envelopes me when, intuitively, something feels “right” and “true.” Paradoxically this occurs more often when I cease trying. Look at this little Zen story

Master Dizang asked monk Fayan, “Where are you going?”
Fayan said, “On a pilgrimage.”
Dizang, “What is the purpose of pilgrimage?”
Fayan, “I don’t know.”
Dizang, “Not knowing is most intimate.”

This “not knowing is most intimate” could be translated as living with the heart and mind wide open and welcoming whatever arises. Seen that way it matters little where wisdom comes from or whether it’s in fact “true.” What it calls me to do–and it’s a tall order–is to strive to awaken. Awaken from delusions and daydreams, from fixed ideas of how the world should unfold, or how others should behave towards me and the universe. And to trust, to have faith in, what the heart-mind-body knows all along.

image: “zen pilgrim” on


3 responses »

  1. Ah, I think we were drinking from the same well, Peter. My post of last night mirrors yours in many way. Your post speaks to me deeply, “the wisdom of not knowing”, yes!

    I can’t remember who said it but I remember a comment by someone to the effect “the trouble is we know everything too soon.” We want to tie it all up in a ball and understand it, categorize it and in doing so, control it, put it out of the way and move on. The openness of staying with the “not knowing “can feel uncomfortable.

    • Good morning carole,

      i just returned from reading your post. Same mysterious well indeed. You quote Reggie Ray, “[Buddhist practice] it challenges us to look beyond any and all answers that we may have found along the way, to meet ourselves in a naked, direct, and fearless fashion.”

      Naked and direct — that’s where fear resides. and wisdom. right there with shame, guilt, self-loathing and the usual suspects of ‘small mind.’

      • ..and living in a naked, direct, and fearless fashion can bring freedom and liberation from fear, and other negativity in our lives…


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