Thus we often close down around an answer just to find relief—which can lead to remorse, regrets and actions that don’t serve us well.
There is a different approach that brings more satisfaction, but it requires tolerating the unknown.
If we can sit in the space of not knowing and ask, “And what else?” a more complete answer can come forth.
If our intention is to see life from the long view, it is important to pause and ask questions concerning the results of our behaviors before we take action.
The question, “And what else?” slows us down from jumping to conclusions and doing something that might cause harm.
This could also be thought of as “Beginner’s mind,” a practice the Buddha taught his followers.
Beginner’s mind is the opposite of being an expert, as a beginner doesn’t know and must learn by observing, listening and asking questions.
Beginner’s mind keeps us in a place of curiosity and awe. There is no discomfort here, unless we think we should know.
A beginner, in the purest sense of the word, has given up the need to understand and is content to watch with deep concentration, letting things come together in their own time and way.
A beginner doesn’t think he/she must figure out the answer, but is willing to wait for higher guidance.
But as our culture rewards “experts,” it isn’t always easy to give up the rewards and ego satisfaction of thinking we already know and understand.
It has been said that the evils of the world have been done by people who were certain they were doing the right thing.
Giving up being an expert—continuously trying to figure things and developing certainty about what the outcome should be—is worth whatever time and energy it takes.
Consider this: How do you feel when you don’t know a solution to a problem? If you’re like me you probably feel some uneasiness.
And does this discomfort pressure you to close down on the first viable answer that comes to get relief from the anxiety of not knowing?
This is a great time to stop and ask, “What else might be happening here? What might be trying to break through? What are some other possible answers?”
Or when you think someone has insulted or ignored you—and you feel hurt even though you’ve told yourself not to take things personally (which causes more suffering.)
What could be going on in this person’s life that may have motivated these actions?
Perhaps it’s not about us! Which carries a great truth, for we are not who/what we think we are.
Opinions are not truth.
Perhaps something has occurred so that we can see an old, destructive habit pattern that has been our default when we feel threatened.
Perhaps it’s time to investigate this belief so that we can meet it in a new way.
Another example is working with our dreams.
Dreams bring useful information from the unconscious. The unconscious reveals itself through symbols which may be interpreted in many ways. Even when we think we have the answer to the meaning of this dream, it is important to ask, “And what else?”
There may be much more to be known.
Dr. Robert Johnson says that the intellect’s job is to gather information. But it is the job of the intuition to make decisions.
Intuition comes from the unconscious. It arises in subtle ways. It is similar to a slender thread that appears out of the dark, shimmering and pulling us towards it. It piques our interest. It is calling to us.
What do we trust—our intellect? Or are we willing to trust the universal intelligence that continually flows through us all?
Are we willing to wait until answers reveal themselves, and then take action?
And while waiting for answers, please know that you are not just loved; you have been created from love. You are love itself.
My definition of love comes from the work of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who names love as the universal energy that weaves everything together in growing harmony. It is your very nature. It flows through you and guides you. Trust it. It is always holding you in its arms.
“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love;
With lovingkindness have I drawn thee forth.” Jeremiah 31:3