“ If you have any notion of where you are going, you will never get anywhere.”. --Joan Miro
Do we ever really know where we are going?
The British teacher, writer and founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order, Sangharakshita states “You always commit yourself to the unknown”.
When we take up the practice of meditation and truly bring these practices into our lives, whether in a Buddhist or a modern mindfulness context it is essential that we truly commit to the unknown. That moment, we think we know where we are going, is a moment which unavoidably traps us into believing we are going anywhere.
If we put this into the context of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path we can look to Right View—the first factor on the path. Through the initial stages of right view we have an understanding of the first three noble truths—dukkha (dis-content), the cause of dukkha and the end of dukkha and to the laws of Kamma. Our view—the road ahead is aimed at the end of dis-content. We may think that by committing to the path which leads to the end of suffering (Freedom) we are committing to the known. The habit of mind is likely to lead us into a notion of what Freedom feels like and what will happen once I’m free. When the mind goes to that place, then freedom becomes impossible. By opening to the mystery of the unknown, fully committing to this and allowing experience to unfold, the freedom which has always been here comes into the light.
The second factor of the 8-fold path is right intention—we bring the intention of committing to the unknown. This is opening to the mystery of life.
In the mundane world, we commit to the unknown more often than we think. We sit down to read a book we don’t know what will be experienced which is also the case when experience a film or a concert. When we start a new job, we may know our salary, but we don’t really know what’s going to happen once we start. These are obvious examples. On the other extreme if we only committed to that which known, life would be unbearably boring and when inevitable change happen people think that their life is over.
Interestingly people often come to meditation wanting to know up front, what to expect and what they will get out of it. Slowly but surely when experience is allowed to unfold, and we are totally open to any outcome then practice becomes easeful and in the context of the Eightfold Path, we are practicing with Right Effort.
Live your life fully committed to the unknown and let every moment be a surprise—it already is anyway!