Are you a person who contemplates life’s larger questions with the smaller ones?
Are you a person who is simultaneously wondering what you’re going to have for dinner as much as wondering who you might create a life with?
If you’re like me, You might also wonder how we can actually make a world without war, as much as you are thinking about what time you need to leave your house to go pick up your kids from school!
Let me introduce to you something that has created a beautiful blossom within the garden of my mind:
This is what Buddhist psychology calls it.
What is it?…
In the recent ‘Tricycle’ Buddhist review magazine for spring of 2022, the article entitled “Trusting the unknown,” written by Kaira Jewel Lingo, she writes about this store consciousness in this way:
“But we must leave the seed down in the soil of our mind and not keep digging it up to see if it is growing roots. It won’t grow that way! It is the same with a deep and troubling question. We ask our deeper consciousness to take care of it and then let go of our thinking and worrying about it. Then in our daily lives we practice calming, resting, and coming home to ourselves in the present moment, and that will help the seed of our question to ripen naturally and authentically. This process cannot be rushed or forced. It may take weeks, months, or years. But we can trust that the seed is “down there,” being tended to by our deeper consciousness, and one day it will sprout into a clear answer.”
What she is alluding to is what her teacher, the late Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, used to say to people who ask him life’s big questions.
He would say, “Don’t try to figure out the answer by thinking about it.”
Kaira writes that “in thinking over a question again and again, we do not generally arrive at real wisdom, but we easily tire ourselves out and get even more confused or anxious.”
Thich Nhat Hanh suggested to
‘consider this big question as a seed, plant it in the soil of our mind and let it rest there. Our mindfulness practice in our daily lives is the sunshine and water that the seed needs to sprout so that one day it will rise up on its own, in its own time. And then we’ll know the answer to our question without a doubt’.
To me this blew my mind as well as eased my spirit.
To trust and to breathe my question down into the depths of my psyche and soul and to let it rest there in the dirt. To just let it be there while I focus on the day to day, focus on my practices, and just practicing being a good person.
But this letting go process can also be a struggle. Some of life’s questions that we would like to have answered, we want them answered now!
When will I find love?
Will I have the career I desire and dream about?
Will war end?
Will my children have a happy life?
This reminds me of one of my most favorite Rilke quotes that states,
“I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer,”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To A Young Poet.
So I take a deep breath. I might cry. Or I might feel a sense of release. But then I take another deep breath. And then I might laugh. Or I might take a yoga pose. And then I take another breath and remind myself to trust. And to surrender. And to live inside of my days honoring all that comes up. And all that comes through. And all that I receive and all that I give; that I honor it all.
Kaira actually begins her short article with this beautiful translation by Stephen Mitchell of Lao-tzu’s words:
“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”-Lao-tzu (translated by Stephen Mitchell)
So what happens when there is nothing more we can do but wondering and worrying? We lay the questions deep into the earth of the garden of our mind, and we go about our days letting the questions be nourished from the focused and loving actions that we’re taking in our daily lives.
And what happens when there are things that we can do to support our deeper questions? Then we take loving action, through discipline and intuition and a heart centered space. And even those small actionable steps that we take might not be the full answer to our deeper questions, but those deeper questions are being nourished by our daily actions.
And how will we know when the right action arises and we are to take it? We will know because those daily actions of realigning with our heart, are True North, and our authentic Self, will inform us when we see what the action and the answer is. We will see clearly because the ‘water is clear’ and the ‘mud has settled’ because we paused. Because we stopped worrying about the unknown future.
We must trust that we will know what right now is unknown.
To stay in an open state with our minds and hearts is our daily practice. To always be in the world with a heart of acceptance for all of life is our daily practice. To invite ourselves to always be so open so that we are receptive and accepting with gratitude for what we have and what Source is providing is our daily practice that nourishes these deeper questions that we plant as seed in our psyche.
Then, through these, and many other practices, we can trust the unknown as Kaira Jewel Lingo titles her article; ‘Trusting the Unknown’.
To invite our self into these ways of being, we can use the Pushpaputa Mudra, The gesture of “handful of flowers”. It embodies and symbolizes all of the daily practices I just wrote about above. It represents all of those as well as promoting positive attitude, helping us overcome fear, and promoting that inner spaciousness. It’s no wonder it’s associated with the element of water; to invite us into being fluid and in the flow of life, as well as trusting the flow and surrendering to its movement.
To do this mudra, cup each of your hands gently and separately. Then, with palms facing up, bring the two pinky fingers to touch. Keep the mudra in front of you with relaxed shoulders and dropped elbows. Breathe.
Perhaps we can make friends with uncertainty and stay open, just like the open psalm of the mudra.
What if you made friends with uncertainty?
Kaira goes on to write that “It’s hard to find our way if we continue to feed this worry and fear. We can recognize that we are not helping the situation and stop. Returning to this moment, anchoring ourselves in our body, we will find the solidity of the home inside of us, which is capable of helping us find our way, if only we let it, and if we can let go of trying to figure out the future in our heads.”
Marcel Proust said “the voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. I have used this quote in the past but inside different contexts. I feel that it fits here again, where we can shift our gaze towards trust and surrender and not needing to know. We can open up to our beginner’s mind, and see what is just right in front of us. This often leads me down a path that lands me in the blossom of gratitude. That I see all that is within me and all that is around me. That I’m grateful for the people and the things that I have in my life. It lessens the worry of those larger questions that I planted in the soil of my mind earlier. And I come to feel in my body a sense of freedom and in my mind hope and new possibilities.
The quote also speaks to making news “eyes”, new ways of seeing and viewing things. Instead of seeing only worry, questions, concerns, and anxiety, focus the “eyes” towards what is here, what is now, and what is good.
Jack Kornfield reminds us that the 25th principle of Buddhist psychology is to ‘release opinions, free ourself from views, and be open to mystery’.
I returned to the Lao-tzu words and asked myself if I can remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?
I realized that I’m not literally not moving, but instead I’m moving in ways that are aligned with my heart on a daily basis. And by doing so, I can trust the unknown and I can trust that I will see when that right action arises. I will know as the mud settles and the water becomes clear. Because as the water becomes clear I can see. I will have a clear view, clear thinking, clear feeling, clear Knowing. I will not be swayed by others’ views, societal views, or even my own negative thought views that are not Real.
Alan Watts and his book ‘The wisdom of insecurity’ points out that:
“when we are clear and sure about what we are doing, we are less open to the many other possibilities available. But when we let ourselves hang out in the space of not knowing, there is enormous potential and life could unfold in innumerable ways.” Kaira Jewel Lingo takes off from his words that rather than avoiding and fearing this place of uncertainty that we can embrace it and all its gifts!
She closes her article with this beautiful quote,
“If we can stop, we have the chance to touch into something deeper than feeling overwhelmed. This place of pausing, or stopping, helps the seed of our question to mature and ripen into the guidance and direction we need.”
So plant your seed of a question dear one. Let it settle. Go about your days aligning with your heart so that your seed of a question will be nourished. As you do so, the mud will settle and the water will become clear. Trust that you will see and you will know in that moment of clarity, beauty and Guidance!
All my love,
Breathe and Believe.
P.S. How perfect that as I write this, on Wednesday March 2nd, it is the new moon in Pisces. It’s perfect because this new moon invites us to focus on our inner wisdom. It invites us to meditate and to take that pause. It also supports us in releasing views of others and society and to just be nicer to ourselves! And that supports the 25th principle of Buddhist psychology 😉