August 03, 2009

Not Knowing the Story

Today, Colin Beavan over at his No Impact Man blog posted a snippet of his forthcoming book discussing something he had once heard from Pema Chodron speaking about groundlessness and not knowing. I won't quote the whole snippet here, go find it yourself, but one bit seems particularly pertinent:

Now, there are a lot of stories we tell ourselves to try to make sense of what we don’t know. We tell ourselves religious stories and family stories and success stories and all sorts of different stories. Lately, I’d attached myself to stories about how every thing will be fine if we just consume less. We tell ourselves such stories because we don’t trust that we’ll do the right thing if we simply accept the groundlessness of not knowing. Another Zen master once told me that this was the entire point of practice: to become comfortable with not knowing.

For some reason the films of Hayao Miazaki come to mind. There are lots of room in his stories for not knowing - not knowing who the "bad guy" is, not knowing where the gods and demons come from, not knowing the boundaries of his fantastical worlds, not knowing how or why magic works, not knowing if you can trust someone. It is one of the things I have always loved about his stories. Not everything is explained and not everything needs to be. Things can simply be accepted as they are.

Of course, they are still stories, but I think there is room for groundlessness even within them.

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