When I heard Jack Kornfield speak last month in Miami, one of the themes that stuck with me was mystery and allowing ourselves to “not know.” I really gravitated to this idea as I noticed my body immediately relax to the idea as my mind excitedly thought, “I don’t have to figure everything out? I don’t have to try and know everything?”
When I realize that I sometimes carry that expectation or pressure it feels a little silly. Of course we aren’t going to figure every little thing out in our lives, and as a human race at large, there are still a gazillion (if not more) mysteries of the world, of our bodies, of our spirituality, of our healings. For some people, this idea of “not knowing” and “allowing the mystery to exist” is anxiety provoking, but I encourage you to consider it as permission. Permission to relax. Permission to let go of the attachment to knowing, explaining, and understanding. Giving ourselves back the gifts of wonder and amazement.
In his book The Wise Heart, Jack Kornfield adds, “We might have a hard time functioning if we were in a constant state of awe. But the all too common deadening of our senses is far from the middle path.”
Let’s tap into some other great quotes and perspectives on the value of mystery:
“I think on some level, you do your best things when you’re a little off-balance, a little scared. You’ve got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing.” -Willem Dafoe
“I don’t think that faith, whatever you’re being faithful about, really can be scientifically explained. And I don’t want to explain this whole life business through truth, science. There’s so much mystery. There’s so much awe.” -Jane Goodall
“When I was younger, I looked at getting older as this process of getting less interested in things and becoming colder, and of finding less joy in the mystery of things. And I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. I find that I’m getting warmer, and that I’m more mystified by human interactions.” -Jon Brion
“Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.” -Rene Daumal
Consider the mystery of therapy. Many times clients want a direct, clear-cut, well-researched answer to their problems (or perceived problems), and while many times techniques and skills which are taught in the therapy room can be helpful . . . sometimes what is healing is simply the powerful presence of another person seeing you fully and witnessing your story. If that isn’t vague and mysterious, I don’t know what is.