On not knowing

There ain’t no answer,
There ain’t going to be any answer
There never has been an answer
That’s the answer.
~Gertrude Stein

My mom, whom I love, is a devout Catholic, and to my chagrin, over the past decade has transformed into the breed of Christian so full of the Jesus love that she takes every opportunity to tell my friends about the unshakability of her faith. In spending lots of time with her over the past month, we mostly avoided the topics of religion and spirituality, until one evening of evangelism. I listened quietly, tried to evoke patience, not to react rebelliously, lent her my copy of Siddhartha when she began inquiring as she always does about the Buddha.

Finally, after her fifteen-minute soliloquy, I told her what she didn’t want to hear: my current belief system, or lack thereof. Sometime over the past couple of years, I’ve slipped into agnosticism like ratty old cozy gray sweatpants. After having been through phases of doubtful believer, doubtless believer, clueless Buddhist, wannabe atheist for approximately twenty years (1989-2009), this is a welcome change. I trust that I don’t know. I love that I don’t know. I know that I don’t know. Nobody knows. We people want to think we understand things, we know what’s going to happen later tonight, later this year, and after this life.

When I told my mother that I don’t believe or disbelieve in God, that I don’t think it’s an important issue because it can never be proven or disproven, and that I’d rather focus on being present and compassionate to myself and others, she said, and I quote, “Give me a break; that is such a cop-out!”

Well, living in questions is not a cop-out, in my opinion. Blind faith is. To each their own? I guess… 

Not Knowing by Stephen Levine

I may not know my original face
but I know how to smile.
I may not know the recipe for the diameter
of a circle but I know how to cut a slice
for a friend. I may not be Mary or the Buddha
but I can be kind. I may not be a diamond
cutter but I still long for rays of light
that reach the heart.
I may not be standing on the hills of skulls
but I know love
when I see it.

2 thoughts on “On not knowing

  1. I love this line… “I trust that I don’t know. I love that I don’t know. I know that I don’t know. Nobody knows.”

    I like what you’re saying….living in the here and now and not fretting or worrying about what may or may not happen in the afterlife.

    I too, have a mother who has become more and more christian evangelist over the years – to the point where it sometimes frightens me. Some day I’m sure I will have ‘the conversation’ with her – on her initiation – and I know she’s not going to like what I think.

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