Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Need to Know

Much of our suffering is caused by our need to know things. Or maybe more specifically, by the the fact that we think we should be able to know more than we do.

We spend a lot of time wanting to know the future. When I am planning a presentation, I would like to know how a prospect is going to answer a question or react to a statement. When I pick a stock, I would like to know if it is going to do well or not.

I'd like to know that my kids are going to be happy, that my wife and I are going to be fulfilled, and that I can meet my professional goals.

I'd like to know that when I am speaking in a difficult situation, that my words are going to be understood in the way that I intend.

But I don't know any of those things. The truth is, I don't even know what I'm having for dinner tonight.

That uncertainty can be terrifying.

But would it be even more terrifying to know?

What if I knew that I was going to die a horrible death, or that my children were going to suffer? Would I behave differently than I do now? In all likelihood, I would do some things that that I otherwise would not do. Even if what I knew was good I would look at the world differently.

When we know something, or even when think we know something, we close off possibilities. We see the world in a way that is limiting. We see our jobs and our mortgages and our daily routines, and little else.

When we don't know, our options are limitless. Every moment is new and fresh. We can see the world for the miracle that it is.

And it might begin to feel a little less terrifying.


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