Excerpt About Not Knowing

Three Different Kinds of Not Knowing

This place of not knowing is different than the not knowing we encounter in inquiry when we have a new experience or one we’ve had before but have not investigated. The latter is the kind of not knowing that we need to move through many times on our inner journey. We need to first recognize through our inquiry that we don’t know something before we can begin to know it. So, for example, we cannot recognize our essential presence before realizing that we don’t know what essential presence is. Because if we continue to believe that we know it, we will never find out what it actually is. So inquiry always requires letting ourselves experience that “I don’t really know what this is . . . I don’t know what is happening right now . . . I don’t know who I am.” It is possible for us to be in that place and still be aware because the nonconceptual awareness is there. But that doesn’t mean that we are aware of the nonconceptual dimension directly. The nonconceptual is supporting that process, but our conceptual, cognitive mind is still present—it just hasn’t yet grasped something. It doesn’t know, but it knows that it doesn’t know. In contrast, in the nonconceptual you don’t know and you don’t know that you don’t know. There is no knowing, where before there was not knowing. So we could say that there are three different kinds of not knowing:
1. “I don’t know, and I don’t know that I don’t know.” This is pure ignorance and darkness, for I believe I know many things. The knowing mind is present.
2. “I don’t know, and I know that I don’t know.” This is awakening to my condition.
3. “I don’t know, and I don’t know that I don’t know.” This is pure realization, light, no darkness, but the knowing mind is absent.

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