Facing Up To Suffering And To Not Knowing Thyself

Two Basic Statements

Consider the following deduction based on observation: many statements we make are reducible to these two forms:

  • One: “I am suffering.” (Basically what I’m saying is that I’m suffering.)
  • Two: “I know or must know.” (Basically what I’m saying is that (a) I don’t know and need to know or (b) I do know.)

I Am Suffering

When one feels the slightest sense of things not being quite right, the feeling arises and then the thought, not knowing that a feeling had arisen just before it, says,

  • “I’m cold–and I must do something about it.”
  • “I’m tired–and I don’t want to be tired.”
  • “I’m sad, lonely, angry, frustrated, anxious, fearful, and so on–and I don’t want to be any of these things.”
  • And so on.

Essentially: “I am suffering and I don’t actually know that I’m suffering. I only know that I’m complaining and only find myself complaining time and time again. I don’t realize that this thought stream can be traced back to a feeling or to a set of feelings, all of which would simply say, ‘I’m suffering.'”

I Know or Must Know

The one who knows or must know is often afraid of not knowing. The expert knows. The CEO knows. The man on the street knows about politics or the weather. Almost everyone presumes to know.

Usually, the one who knows or needs to know often implies, “And others don’t know. I know but they don’t. Those idiots.”

How afraid are we knowers to admit that we might not know; that we might fall into uncertainty or confusion; that chaos surrounds us on all sides; that, in fact, we do not know what is beneath, below, or around all the little bits that we do know? Answer: very afraid.

We don’t know that we take ourselves to be knowers, to be those who have to know while all the surrounds our knowing is vast and engulfing. Why don’t we know that this, in essence, is how we take ourselves–to wit, to be knowers? We don’t know this about ourselves.

Facing Up

What if we faced up to the fact that many of our statements can be reduced, in effect, to “I’m suffering”? Were we to realize this directly, then how would we set aside all the statements alluding to and following from suffering and go directly to the suffering itself?

For the truth is: you are suffering and I am suffering. Start here!

And what if we faced up to the fact that our knowing arises out of a sea of not knowing? What would happen if we dropped knowing and if we were to begin, refreshingly honestly, with “I don’t know”? “Actually, I don’t know what all this is about. Indeed, I do not know myself.” What if we stopped assimilating the “I don’t know” to the “I need to know now”? How would that be?

Who, or what, would we be if we faced up to suffering directly and if we faced up to not knowing, a not knowing that, in actuality, abounds, a not knowing that implicates the one who thinks he knows himself but in reality does not?