"The Unknown" by Jeannie Zandi
Filed in:Jeannie Zandi
When we slip out of the known, into a little gap, we oftentimes feel great discomfort. Let’s say in the middle of daydreaming in class, the teacher calls on you and you have no idea what they are talking about. There’s a gap of “I don’t know,” and a kind of terror that can rise. I should have something to show for myself!
When we slip out of the known, into a little gap, we oftentimes feel great discomfort. Let’s say in the middle of daydreaming in class, the teacher calls on you and you have no idea what they are talking about. There’s a gap of “I don’t know,” and a kind of terror that can rise. I should have something to show for myself! What if I’m speaking in front of a group and I don’t know what to say? Oh no! Toddlers seem to survive this all the time as they gaze at each other, taking up space for long periods of time, just there, without content. Despite the fact that there is generally no imminent threat to survival, we are terrified of this gap of “I don’t know,” this moment when we might feel that we don’t have our ducks in a row, when we don’t know what’s going on.
The place we call not knowing is only not knowing from the everyday mind’s perspective — from the perspective of being, it is simply life in the moment. This sort of gap is an entry point into the land of presence, hanging outside the reference points that thought offers to soothe our fear. Here there is so much depth and sweetness–this is what we like about events that are saturated in presence–we can feel the energy of the gap. Spiritual energy pours toward us all the time here, from every corner of the moment. The ground emits spiritual energy, the sky, the trees, the hum of bees, the songs of birds, and the bodies of other human beings, even our own body, to the extent that our bodies are grounded, softened and open to the moment. Conditioning closes us to this openness, trains us to hold ourselves in a certain way, and to keep ourselves focused on the track of becoming, of going somewhere.
We can tend to look at spirituality in a linear way–we’re waiting for that moment where something brilliant happens and everything is blinding white light. If I can get there to that experience, then bliss will occur ever after. The reference-point-less gap, is here now. You are floating in it, floating as it, surrounded, penetrated and absorbed. Most of us are humming in our little energetic hamster wheels within this deep ocean of silence and things as they are. The tiniest, mundane moment, where you find yourself lost in the city or late for your plane or at a loss for what choice to make or freshly waking in an unfamiliar hotel room, contains the deep gift of sudden disorientation.
Usually some kind of fear or mad scrambling will kick in right away to soothe yourself back to the mentally known and understandable. The push from conditioning is so strong to handle that thing, to figure it out, to nail it and move on. I invite you at those times to give yourself a few moments to let yourself rest out of a conceptual context in the pure being there of the moment, sinking attention into your senses and noticing that no harm is coming. I invite you to linger in the places where disorientation enters, and to let the body notice that no harm is coming to it, that to rest in the gap between worlds is actually just fine, and not a threat to survival.
As the creature builds a capacity for resting in the clueless moment without scrambling to a reference point, as it discovers the sweetness and ground of resting outside of the mentally known, your capacity to rest in presence deepens, for it is the fear that lives in the creature, supported by the ancient strategy of soothing oneself with reference points, that drags us again and again out of resting open in being. So please, hang in cluelessness just a little minute, letting this tremendous gap get a hold of you.
That’s my invitation to you in everyday life, as you’re bopping around, with each surprise, with each challenge, with each place you are thrown off your groove into the awkward moment — instead of working hard to get a better handle on things, hang there without a strategy or even knowing what to do. Let yourself for a moment live in this gap and look out of the eyes of this gap, giving the creature of the body a chance to acclimate to the fact that nothing needs to go any certain way for things to be just fine.