Two Sides of Ignorance
Hello and welcome to Saturday, January 15, 2022. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
Ignorance is both the source of and the solution to our problems.
On the darker side, ignorance is a significant source of our problems. We tend to believe that what we think is true and accurate. Even though there are almost eight billion people on this planet, each with their own unique worldview and perspective, we still tend to act as though we are right, and “they” are wrong. The other eight billion, well, they believe the same thing. This simple fact alone should give us a clue that we may not have everything all figured out.
Here are several examples of how ignorance of the world and ourselves is a source of suffering: we’re not always aware of how our conditioning and unskillful habits promote harmful behavior, we don’t often recognize our inseparability from one another—that my well-being is dependent upon yours, we seek acknowledgement of our own self-worth from others, we confuse the emotion of happiness with well-being, we associate wealth with success, we blindly distrust religion and science, we blindly trust religion and science, we think our judgments, labels, and perceptions about ourselves are accurate, we lose sight of the fact that everything changes, we are frequently not clear about our motivations, we wrongly place blame on others, we believe emotions to be facts, and we believe our imagination. Our mind effectively tries to convince us that we do know, and yet, in varying degrees, we continue to be troubled by each of these examples, and more.
Despite all these problems, there is a bright side of ignorance which can be a solution to our many woes. If we replace certainty with curiosity, ignorance then becomes a powerful and transformative quality.
Admitting that we don’t know – that we are ignorant – creates space for awareness and understanding. If we can become aware and accept that we are in fact imperfect and don’t have all the answers about the world or about ourselves, it creates the space for us to learn.
If we can admit that we don’t know everything and can take an interest in what others are saying, we might learn to communicate more effectively and better understand the points of view of others. In this admitted ignorance, we become less threatening which creates the space for otherwise shy or marginalized others to have their valuable insight heard. Furthermore, if we can admit that we don’t know something, there is less of a need to impress others, thereby reducing our tension, stress, and anxiety. Vulnerability through ignorance is humbling and transformative.
It may come across that I’m trying to impress upon you that I know something. Although I have found a rich and rewarding life by letting go of what I think I know and by becoming a bit more curious, like Socrates, “I know that I know nothing.”
As always, I am here to help.
You are Loved by me, Unconditionally!
Contribute to the Turning Leaf Foundation
If you would like to help bring Mindfulness to the less fortunate and to help pay for current services, your generosity is deeply appreciated.