The Curious Case of Not Knowing. Part 1.
Around the middle of my first Ayahuasca session I experienced a quick flashback of all of the moments in my life when I was feeling fear, anxiety, helplessness. This flashback lasted only — as far as I can tell — for a brief second, or even less. In fact, it was so quick that I could not even tell you a single detail about any of the memories I was exposed to. I did obtain something out of this, though. I realized that all of these memories — without any exception — had something in common.
I did not know.
I did not know about how should I react, I did not know what should I think, I did not know what should I expect, I did not know if I did something “wrong”, and, in case I did, I did not know what can I do about it to make it better. Of course, there were many different circumstances, different people in each and every one of the situations I’ve been in, different importance that these situations had for me in my life. But. It was always about “now knowing” something. That was the core, the main root of the most difficult feelings I have experienced in my life.
After realizing this I was 100% percent sure that this was also the case for every human being that has ever lived on this planet. The most frightening thing that a human can experience during his/her lifetime is an experience of unknown. My rational mind was somewhat doubting this, and in response to that I saw a short vision:
An old woman opens a door, seeing a handsome man with a militaristic outfit standing right in front of her. It seems like she was expecting news of her son, who is currently at war, and from whom she have not heard in a while. After unexpectedly seeing this man from military on her doorstep she immediately thought about the worst, and quickly started sobbing…
This man, though, seemed to be in quite high spirits! He said:
— Hello, Ma’am! I assume you are waiting for the news about your son! Aaaand I, of course, can tell you what happened to him! But, see, there’s a chance that he can be… Well… Dead, you know? So in order to save you from a potential grief, I could just turn around and not tell you anything, assuming this would make you feel better. So, what is your word, Ma’am?
Just after this vision has come to and end, I heard a question in my head: “Do you think there exists a single mother in this planet that would rather choose the second option?”. I didn’t think so. I still don’t.
Why is it that not knowing about your son’s fate is far more frightening than finding out about him not being among living ones anymore? My guess — it’s because grief, sadness, longing are the elements of a healing process. It’s a painful process, yes. But it eventually leads to acceptance, understanding and peace. Where does “unknown” lead? It leads only to more not knowing! In order to make it somewhat easier for oneself in dealing with not knowing, person starts guessing, doubting, creating stories… But there’s no healing in doing so — only a short, temporal escape from the horror of unknown.
And yet, it’s a curious case, this Not Knowing. Why? Because while being this horrendous wrath, it’s also… The greatest gift a living being could obtain! When you are not sure what to expect from a situation, when you don’t have any preconceived ideas about something, or when something happens in a completely opposite way compared to what you expected to happen — then (and ONLY then) surprises and miracles come to life! That’s when the magic of the ‘first time’ becomes apparent. That’s when you start seeing a world with the eyes of a child, full of loving admiration and deep respect to it’s beauty and vastness.
So, what’s the difference between two scenarios I just vaguely mentioned? What does a child have (or does not have) compared to an old woman, waiting for the news about her son in war? The most important point, in my view, is that this old woman has an underlying notion “I have to know! I have to know NOW!”. Why? Because her son is so dear to her. Because she has a strong loving connection with her offspring, many cherished memories of him. A part of her own identity may be tightly entangled with him being alive. And what if there’s also some underlying guilt, namely “I should have not let him go there…”?
So, what about the child, then? Child has no underlying notions, no thoughts like “this was not supposed to be like this” or “it is my fault this is happening”. To a very young human being it seems like everything that already IS — should and MUST BE! The one and only duty (before all other duties obtained from external world) a child seems to put on himself is to experience it all! This, I believe, is a must in order to see magic beyond unknown.
That, and one another thing, that every child deserves to have. Somebody to trust. Somebody to lean on. To have someone that tells you that it’s okay to now know everything, and everything is fine right now. To have a leader, somebody that makes it easier for you to explore and look for answers, and to have your back when you have a painful, confusing experience. A parent — or, better yet, two of them, of course.
If we went for simplicity, the only difference in my opinion between suffering and happiness during the state of not knowing is… A person’s relationship with it! If not knowing something makes you anxious, irritated, insecure, there’s a good chance that there’s something beyond it, some other idea that you have not addressed yet. Something like “But I should know, because if I don’t…”. Go ahead and finish this sentence yourself. If this is not the case… Then, I guess we’re just two very different people, you and I.