It is uncertain, isn’t it?

Wisdom is not knowing but being. The Christian mystics instructed seekers to enter the Cloud of Unknowing with a trusting heart. The wise heart is not one that understands everything—it is the heart that can tolerate the truth of not knowing. Wisdom comes alive in the presence of the mystery, when the heart is open, sensitive, wholly receptive. Out of this simple presence, empathy, love, responsiveness, good things are born.
My teacher Ajahn Chah would often respond to people’s questions, plans, and ideas with a smile and say, “Mai neh.” The phrase means, “It is uncertain, isn’t it?” He understood the wisdom of uncertainty, the truth of change, and was comfortable in their midst.

For a long time I didn’t understand this. After I had practiced in the monastery and began to offer retreats, I had many ideas. Much of my initial focus was teaching people Buddhist principles through which they could overcome greed, hatred, and delusion and develop mindfulness and understanding. I wanted people to understand their patterns of grasping, to rid themselves of greed, anger, hatred, and confusion, and I thought such insight would bring about transformation. As I matured, I began to see that it is much simpler than this.

Underneath all the wanting and grasping, underneath the need to understand is what we have called “the body of fear.” At the root of suffering is a small heart, frightened to be here, afraid to trust the river of change, to let go in this changing world. This small unopened heart grasps and needs and struggles to control what is unpredictable and unpossessable. But we can never know what will happen. With wisdom we allow this not knowing to become a form of trust – Jack Kornfield

2 thoughts on “It is uncertain, isn’t it?

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. I believe I’ve discovered my own body of fear after many years of meditation. I was amazed to find it and feel it. And that I could carry it around with me all my life without being conscious of it. I have such a desire to know. Peeling back this “desire” or “need” has been an interesting and fruitful experience.

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