There is No Path

I've got 15 minutes to write about something brilliant before Starbucks evicts me. Here goes.

Tonight's topic is going to be about direction. Yeah yeah, I talk about this a lot, but this is going to be a little different.

In the past I've advocated the position that people can find their direction, or rather, their compass, through introspection and quieting the mind. But this explanation, true or not, always leads to complications, because in trying to quiet the mind, all you do is make noise, force it, twist it, control it, deny it, hold onto it, etc.

This is why Zen Buddhism is so fucking weird. The Zen Masters of yore knew that any instruction would send you on a mental expedition, and that was antithetical to their goal, which was less thinking and abstraction.

It occurred to me last weekend that direction is really what we're all searching for all the time. We want to know that we're on the right path to somewhere. We might not know where, but we want to be on the right path. We check to see if we're on that path constantly, and when we face uncertainty, we typically try and avoid it or hide it with a bunch of clever tools: intellectualization, denial, anger, and distraction to name a few prominent tactics.

We want certainty.

But the truth is, we don't have it. And we don't really know how to to get it. When we're really exhausted and we realize the futility of our efforts, we come to the conclusion that we don't know.

Don't know.

This happens to be the mantra used in Korean Zen. "What am I?" on the in-breath and "Don't know" on the out-breath.

Don't know is scary. It's scary as fuck when you admit that your mind hasn't really helped you get clarity and make progress on your issues. Maybe you've come up with a few nifty clues to soothe you temporarily, but major progress has been elusive. And now you don't know what the fuck you're going to do or even how to move on correctly. You don't know the path out of your confusion and the path into peace.

But it's also unique and interesting. When you really admit your cluelessness and give up trying to think your way to somewhere better, you can breathe a sigh of relief that you no longer have to control things or solve things. There's something special in that space of confusion, something sacred.

Namaste. (What does that even mean? lol)