Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Only Don't Know...

Last summer, I bought a new guided meditation recording. At the end of the meditation, the listener was instructed to "go straight, and only don't know." As I understood it, going straight referred to the Buddhist idea of dharma and following the Right Path. But "Only don't know?" This phrase perplexed me. What in the world did it mean?! Was it even grammatically correct? Well, that's what Google is for, I suppose.

I learned that "Only Don't Know" is the title of a book of correspondences between Zen Master Seung Sahn and his devotees. In this book of letters, all sorts of people write to him with questions ranging from work and relationships, to the meaning of Zen. I most letters, he counsels "Only don't know."

Hmmm. I am far from a Zen Master (nor do I desire to be one,) but this notion has really struck a chord with me. What if we let go of all that we profess to "know." The future, the past, our limitations. All that defines "us" as "us." Because, really, what do we know? My life has been one continual surprise after another, and the times I have been the least happy are when I have clung to ideas about how I think things "should be."

So, I've adopted this phrase as a kind of mantra. As my life unfolds, I try to stay on the path that has been clearly laid out for me, and "only don't know." Because I've found, when I let go of what I think I know, the sky's the limit!

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