Uncertainty, Master Teacher

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts;
but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”
-Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning

In our society, we are obsessed with answers.

Who could blame us – after eighteen years of intensive training in answering questions, beginning when our eyes were wide, and our hearts were still open, and we couldn’t explain ourselves.

But more often than not, the single best thing you can do to find an answer is to not know it.

Just leave your heart open, let your mind wander and rest, allow the aching need for resolution to be what it is.

The universe will fill the hole. You will get your answer.

But for that to happen you must sit with the question. You must be patient in the uncomfortable neediness of doubt and uncertainty.

Think of students in a classroom.

The student who pretends to know, who always tries to say something clever and avoids failure at all costs – she doesn’t know the answer nor does she learn. She is so busy trying to have the answers already that she ignores the learning process that will take her to them.

However, the student who looks stupid asking a million questions, who argues the inconsistencies, who frowns with puzzlement until the pieces come together in his mind – he learns the answer in front of everyone, and his struggle opens the minds of the whole class.

Uncertainty – like darkness, large predators, and strangers with weapons – is one of the banes of human existence.

Of the four, it is also the hardest to avoid.

That’s why we need to take uncertainty as our teacher.

We must grow comfortable sitting in it’s shadow, with our hearts and minds open, listening.

It’s only from there that we can learn.

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  1. This is so true. Uncertainty will always be there. We’d best get used to it.

    And you’re right — leaving our minds open to discovering the answer, rather than pretending to know it or just trying to force and answer — will always lead to the best answer.

    Combine an open mind with intuition, and you have one deadly answer-finding duo.


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