Not Knowing

Each and every one of us knows that we don’t know everything. It doesn’t take long to think of some situations in which you know absolutely nothing. So much goes on in this world that it’s quite impossible for us to know everything, yet we sometimes act like we do. We’re talking about the state of not knowing that you’ve experienced before learning how to speak a language, ride a bike, or learning how to tie your shoes. This state can be extremely valuable to us and there is much we can learn from it.

We might even do this more often than we realize and we can explore the ways in which we might by engaging in a bit of self observation. Hindrances to us experiencing states of not knowing may lie in parts of our Johari window where pieces of our personality unknown to us but that are potentially identifiable by others remain. Let’s try a little exercise.

The next time you’re engaged in conversation and you begin to find that you’ve already heard of or know of what the other person is talking about, pay attention to your internal state. Do you tense up in the slightest awaiting an opportunity to tell the other that you’ve already heard about it or know of it? Do your eyes begin to glaze over as they go on with what they’re speaking of? When someone is giving you basic instruction on how to do something seemingly simple, do you notice that you’re feeling a little insulted, attacked or impatient?

Give it a try. Take note of the moments in which you notice the preceding examples or similar. Remaining in a state of not knowing can be extremely beneficial to us in more than just conversations. It can spill over to all areas of our lives and we may find ourselves sprouting fresh blooms of understanding. We may find that we are missing out on some of the fine details in life.

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

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