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The Terrible Majesty of Not Knowing
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

THERE'S SOMETHING interesting going on in the mortal mind; you may have noticed and wondered what it means. I've received jokes in my inbox these last few days accompanied by notes that say, "I don't know why this is funny but I roared." I've gotten Republican screeds that should have spun me up in righteous indignation but instead, made me laugh until I squirted tears.

Friends and readers have reported that daily reviews of cataclysmic news has them distressed on some primal level, yet feeling cheerful for reasons as yet unfathomable. Challenges that might have made me despondent and depressed in decades past have presented themselves, given me a brief and anxious moment, and then quickly become just another item on my quarrelsome little "To Do" list.

If you want perspective about your personal woes, look into the lives of those around you; that has more punch today than at any time I remember. The old saw about crying because we have no shoes only to discover the person with no feet takes on new perspective as we look around us today. Someone who has, regrettably, lost a large percentage of their investments is still infinitely better off than those who are without a job and healthcare or who have surrendered their home to the bank.

Perhaps we're not taking so much for granted these days; finding our inner gratitude. Life's soap opera has become our daily fare -- and with it has come a kind of insulation that provokes good humor and laughter? Wickedly Divine, that.

Economic factors obsess us. Not so long ago, Bush's war was the touchstone of resistance for the progressive movement; yet this week, as Obama announced all the troops out of Iraq by 2011, that news didn't even make the headlines in many papers. Our economic situation, rightly, not only resonates our old acquaintance with Third Chakra survival issues but vibrates the Plutonian signature of the coming transformation of power and responsibility.

The Washington Post's EJ Dionne, who wrote an article on the President's plan to rewrite our social contract and adjust distribution of wealth in a badly unbalanced nation, displayed an awareness of metaphysical reality in this statement: "Our political system adjusts badly when the familiar landmarks erected during controversies of the past are swept away and prepackaged arguments become obsolete."

It's a new day, isn't it? In just these last weeks, we've shifted not just in policy but in how we think about things. Obama is taking us into undefined territory with his proposals; he has no choice. He -- and we -- are going in the same direction: forward. We find ourselves abiding in strange new territory, seemingly unfamiliar to our old perceptions about how life should look.

The simple truth is that life looks the way it looks; it is what it is. If we can remind ourselves of that often -- and I do -- it takes some of the sting out of the melodrama swirling around us. For those lost in the "shoulds" and "have to's" everything is a big emergency; for those of us who are learning to flex, it's something else. I'm not sure I know what to call it, and that works for me because I think not knowing is the name of this game.

There is enormous power in the kind of void space one discovers in new, uncharted territory; when we lose sight of the signposts that tell us where we are, we are free to create differently. I was told by a talented psychic that I had entered such a personal space almost 20 years ago; since I believed her, my response at the time was abject panic. We're so used to being told what to do by the circumstances and obligations of our lives, working without a net of habitual duty and family programming seemed paralyzing at first. I likened it, at the time, to Robin Williams' beloved character, Mork, throwing an egg into the air, declaring "Fly, be free!" -- accompanied almost simultaneously by the sound of a splat.

But, as luck would have it, that feeling soon passed and I made my way, much like Dorothy off to see the wizard, down the new path. I stand before you, having survived that first little passage, to tell you that your life may become increasingly messy, conflicted by the moldy-oldie leftovers of an unworkable thought process, and confusing because of the mixed messages you will hear around you; and yet, in ways you cannot foresee, each action and discovery will make you stronger, allow you to find the humility of your own personal power and -- if you are willing -- learn to live at peace with yourself and your world.

Here's the amazing juxtaposition of our current situation: it isn't the world that's changing -- it's us. Our perception has taken a shift, and we may feel, suddenly, very alone and very vulnerable: but we aren't, at least those of you who find yourself in this position today. Back then, there weren't many of us and it took time to find one another, time to discover how to handle ourselves in a new and self-revealing landscape.

Do not, for instance, be surprised if what has become obligation suddenly becomes so weighty as to crush you; fighting to sustain it will have you floundering and anxious. What calls to you in your heart as passion and creativity and delight may begin to absorb you; what turns the light up in your life may shift your priorities, causing you needless guilt for not attending to the status quo. The drama and dilemma around you may lose its power to make you unhappy or uncomfortable; this will have you wondering if you're becoming callous to the suffering you see, and may have you concerned about what others think of your seemingly irrational good humor.

With the world shaking beneath our feet, perhaps it's time we found our wings. Here are some suggestions about making this journey in cooperation with your essential self; these ideas will work as effectively as you are determined to use them.


Neale Donald Walsch recently spoke to the tendency we have to solidify thought by naming it. Said Walsch, in a message from God, "... mastery is not measured by the number of terrible things you eliminate from your life, but by the number of times you eliminate calling them terrible." He goes on to explain that we find out who we are by discovering who we are not.

Walsh cites the Buddha in his explanation, pointing out that his spiritual experiment was extreme, voluntarily going from the most privileged of elitist lives to poverty and deprivation. The Buddha named neither circumstance, understanding both to be transient illusion; from that experience, the Middle Way was illumined.

Such is the awakened path to self-discovery. Naming an experience bad or wrong or painful only creates resistance to it; and limits our ability to rise above it. Not knowing what something means is that holy space where anything can happen. Getting out of our own way is the first step in getting on with the journey; that means we must not lock ourselves into the reality we think we're seeing.

A Course in Miracles tells us that miracles exist all around us; we are, in fact, miracles ourselves. In order to find our point of contact with what is already there, we must only change our perspective. No lightning strikes, smell of incense or mountain-moving required; just a shift in seeing what we're looking at. No easy task, of course, as we are not taught to discover and eliminate misperception. Which brings me to focus.


With the current glut of information swamping our little boat of consciousness, choosing a focus for the day is a very productive exercise. This works best if we look to our desires, I think. The other morning I woke up to see gray, sunless sky peeking in my bedroom window -- my nemesis in the winter months -- and determined to filter my day through beauty, looking for it in everything the day brought me.

I was delivered, I'm convinced as a gift, the most gloriously lovely snowstorm I've ever seen in the Pea Patch; giant, fluffy flakes that danced and twirled in the drafts of air that caught and tumbled them. Not long after the storm ended the Sun came out to play, striking points of light like diamonds everywhere it touched its bright fingers. I enjoyed a day of beauty I never could have imagined. I wonder what the day would have brought me if I'd decided my filter was going to be that first, gray impression of gloom?

A favorite Course affirmation says it this way: "I see all things as I would have them be." Some might see this as self-deluding; but of course it's a bigger concept than that. If we do not choose the filter through which we perceive ourselves, happenstance and group-mind will. Self-respect -- indeed, self-love -- requires us to take a stand for our ability to give and receive joy; anything less is a misunderstanding of our purpose.

When the Dalai Llama was asked the purpose of incarnation, his answer was, simply, "To be happy." So, how ya doing with that? Try seeing things as you would have them be as a thought experiment; see what happens.

There are as many filters as there are emotions we want to feel and experience. Passion, productivity, love, tenderness, creation, forgiveness, joy, safety. Those things are always present; we have simply not focused to see them. If we allow the circumstances of our life to dictate our filter, we will get a hodgepodge of both welcomed and unwelcomed information until the strongest emotion wins the contest and colors our day. We can choose very deliberately, if we wish, and begin to see things differently; perhaps we will even discover the miracles that await us.


It takes a courageous soul to cut through the selfishness of self-pity and ego-speak and learn to live without manipulating others. It's improbable, like a 300-pound middle-aged person deciding they must become a ballet dancer or die. It's audacious, like a great nation that decides to do a u-turn on the way parasitic business and government has always been run even though it's systemically killing its host.

Just the fear of thinking it's possible must be surmounted first, and then the work itself is a moment-by-moment unfolding. When we offer our willingness to the universe, we leave behind the resistance that keeps us stuck in old loops of behavior. Something remarkable happens when we do that thing we know is our highest option; we get happy. "Happiness," said the Mahatma, "is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony."

Can 'happy' and 'scary' exist in the same moment? To quote everyone's favorite wolf-killer, "You betcha." (Parents and grandparents, open this link for an activist/op your little environmentalists will appreciate.) It's frightening to not have the answers to the questions that confound us; but we gain in confidence and momentum when we examine the creative space between questions and answers. We learn how to live without the absolutes that keep us small. We learn to trust ourselves.

"It is hard to let old beliefs go," said Kenichi Ohmae. "They are familiar. We are comfortable with them and have spent years building systems and developing habits that depend on them. Like a man who has worn eyeglasses so long that he forgets he has them on, we forget that the world looks to us the way it does because we have become used to seeing it that way through a particular set of lenses. Today, however, we need new lenses. And we need to throw the old ones away."

As we move into this strange new energy, something is stirring within us that makes us laugh even as all those old safety nets evaporate around us. We are beginning to understand that resistance comes from the frightened portion of our psyche, urging us to stand still, like a deer in the headlights; we know what that gets us. Perhaps real safety shines in the laughter of true understanding. Real solutions are discovered in love. Authenticity is found in passion and joy. Functionality is present in focus and willingness, in awareness of growth and opportunity instead of loss and challenge.

When I was in my twenties, I went to see the guru -- I know he was a guru because he levitated; yes, he did. I swear it. Anyhow, I had a moment with him and he looked deeply into my eyes, touched my cheek. "Every answer you seek can be found in reality," said this exotic gent. "You're not ready now, but you will be."

"Reality!" I snorted, making a face. "Well, that's relatively rare!"

He began to laugh, great giggles that became a wheezy gust of cackles. "Yes, isn't it?" he finished, wiping his eyes and moving on.

I think he's still laughing. I know I am. Knowing is a dead art in this new energy; we are discovering the revelation of being, moment by glorious moment. And if you aren't letting it tickle your fancy, beloved, you're missing all the fun.

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