Most of us can experience periods of being quite confused at times about what our lives are about and where we are headed. It seems to be habit of many to avoid or distract from the confusion and to take refuge in religion or conditioned beliefs about life. It has been difficult for me as well, at times, to let go of old habits to want to know and to want to find the security of a fixed belief in what I have been told, taught and have read. But these days I am looking in another way to understand what the mystery of life is and who I am.
Watching BBC as much as I do I find myself listening to the many politicians and their confident assurances about what they know. So often individuals seem to strive to reach this place where they think they know what is best. This leaves me bewildered at times because I have come to be aware of the shallowness of such assertions and to doubt the truth in what they claim. I have no doubt that many of them accept their thinking without questioning it too deeply, perhaps it is that they have other motives for clinging to and pursuing what they believe and say. Even religious leaders who encourage the acceptance of belief blindly might be doing so out of their own unexamined thinking. But is there a possibility that the information imparted that claims to know is misleading and that these people who we have come to believe in are not aware of deeper truths of even themselves.
To find our way to honest and open inquiry involves a deep desire to know the truth and to want to live in an authentic way. A sense of wonder and curiosity and wanting to know for oneself what is at the heart of the mystery of life and to want to understand what is true and what is not is part of this. If we do not understand the motivation behind our thinking and other influences in our fixed ways we may remain locked in a state of being unaware where we continue to accept conventional and unexamined belief and others expert assertions about life and ourselves. We have to be willing to step our from that fear of what will happen if we do not conform to conventional ways and possibly dealing with being alone or in isolation if we wish to examine in a more honest and direct way. Some may be faced with a threat to their lives in this pursuit of truth. Ultimately
what we grasp onto in unexamined knowing and belief can block us from this openness and the self discovery that it brings.
How is it that we can come to a place of looking and seeing of such openness?
Zenkei Blanch Hartman talks about wanting to be “the one who knows” in her recent Tricycle article. She talks about being born with such innocence as children and being filled with a wonderful openness, sense of inquiring curiosity but that eventually the child reaches a point where he wants to be “the one who knows”. Her Zen teacher “Shunru Suzuki” of the well know book “Zen Mind Beginners Mind” constantly referred meditators back to the place of “beginners mind”, where one could encounter that openness, coming to a place of learning to again live in this way of innocence.