If we become comfortable with not knowing, our life becomes easier, and we become freer. Krishnamurti talked about “freedom from the known.” It’s a wonderful feeling. We often become mired in that which we think we know. We become trapped by it, stuck in it. This is a problem because knowing is always to a greater or lesser extent an illusion.
There are a few things we reliably know. I know there’s a cup of water to my right. I know how to drive a car. I know where I parked it. I know how to make really good curry.
But most of the really important stuff we just don’t know. I don’t know how to end gun violence. I don’t know what to say to a girl after I’ve taken her to dinner. I don’t know where I’ll be in five years. I don’t know if my forthcoming book will sell a bazillion copies or none. I don’t know a lot of stuff. And this makes me uncomfortable.
Now that I’ve accepted that we’re all rationalizing animals, I’m giving up my belief systems. Whether I can live without one, I dunno, but I’ll try. Because so far as I can tell, whenever large groups of people get together to do something awful, a belief system is the excuse, even when the actual reason is the hope of taking someone else’s lands or goods. To do the worst things, people need to believe they’re doing good.
This isn’t a celebration of willful ignorance, of course, merely an acknowledgement of the need to relinquish ideological rigidity. Personally speaking, that’s not to say that I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout nuthin’ at all; it’s just that my knowledge tends to be more ornamental than useful. And it’s not to say that I don’t have opinions, obviously; it’s just that if I’m honest, I don’t feel very certain about the ramifications or the implications of those opinions. A does not necessarily entail B, let alone everything else along the way to Z. I don’t feel the need anymore to connect all those opinions together within an internally consistent ideological edifice. Could be that I’m finally just mature enough to cheerfully acknowledge what has always been the case: that I don’t necessarily have a basic understanding of everything of importance, nor do I need to. The Chinese farmer knows the deal.