top of page

Not Knowing

It seems commonplace to experience a desire for understanding, knowledge, and insight into the various facets that affect our lives. Our instinctive nature propels us to acquire the information crucial for our survival and well-being. Moreover, societal norms encourage us to actively pursue knowledge as a means to succeed and enhance our daily lives. This inclination is deeply ingrained through cultural conditioning and it shapes our approach to spirituality.


The not-knowing we're addressing here is not about rejecting practical knowledge, nor is it intended to bypass ignorance. Not-knowing is about our willingness to acknowledge that we believe we already know. We see the world through rose-colored glasses, only the glasses here are the ideas, beliefs, teachings, and experiences from the past. Not-knowing is a knowing that you don't know! Not-knowing is recognizing the truth of the situation, and perhaps the mystery.


Our innate curiosity mirrors a child's inquisitive spirit, often expressed through a series of probing 'Why' questions. When confronted with existential inquiries, or the recognition of some discontent, a natural inclination arises to seek answers or solutions using methods learned in the past. Typically, our spiritual journey commences with the pursuit of more knowledge, yet it can lead to encountering perplexing questions with elusive answers or paradoxes. The mind, in its pursuit of overcoming feelings of inadequacy, believes that amassing new knowledge will provide answers. However, as our knowledge expands, new questions emerge, and new perspectives surface, each diverting attention from our true nature as our mind fixates on knowing thoughts.


There exists an alternative approach endorsed by spiritual teachings: The  answers you seek are already available to you by quieting the mind and looking inside. You can notice that we don’t know, and also that you don’t know how to find out. Can you allow yourself to admit that you don’t know?  Adopting an attitude of not-knowing unlocks the potential for unveiling something new to be revealed. We can become open and receptive to everything that life presents without the filters of mind. Some might call this 'beginners mind' that offers an entryway to deeper experiences of life and love




















When you realize

You don't know where you came from

You don't know why you're here

You don't know where you're going

It might dawn on you that

The awareness of not knowing is liberation.

~ Stuart Schwartz


Rest nakedly in truly not knowing. Until now we have opted for trusting our minds, images and ideas, rather than trusting the spaciousness from which all arises. What an opportunity is available now to trust the unknown spaciousness of the heart. 

~ Gangaji 


When you ask yourself the question Who am I? you will immediately notice a vast space, and that vast space is the answer. You, your natural state as presence/awareness, is the answer. This is all that there ever was, is, and will be. Ask the question, and then stop there, at the edge of a vast aware space of not knowing. Go no further. Allow the answer to reveal itself. This is not an intellectual knowing. If you just continue to pursue the question rather than paying attention to what is actually there, thoughts and ideas will continue to flood in to try to fill that unknowingness. You will never find the answer in the realm of the mind, because the mind seeks always to fill in the space with ideas, concepts, and imaginings. Why? Because the mind, the false self, is uneasy with not knowing! Generating fantasies gives the mind a reason to exist. As you gain experience with this, you will stop rushing to fill the gap. You will no longer try to fill the space. You can be content with not knowing, 

~ Enza Vita 


The state we call realization is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything.

~ Ramana Maharshi


Right now you can allow yourself to experience a very simple sense of not knowing - not knowing what or who you are, not knowing what this moment is, not knowing anything. If you give yourself this gift of not knowing and you follow it, a vast spaciousness and mysterious openness dawns within you. Relaxing into not knowing is almost like surrendering into a big, comfortable chair; you just fall into a field of possibility.

~ Adyashanti


Truth happens in a state of not knowing, truth happens in innocence. Truth happens where there are no clouds of thoughts moving in your consciousness, when sky is absolutely clear, when there is no abstraction, when you have no idea and God is or God is not. When you don't believe in no-God, when you are simply in a state of not knowing. You don't claim any knowledge, that non-claiming consciousness begins to open up. All knowledge burdens and closes you. 

~ Osho 


If you want to enter knowledge of the Tao, the entrance is called “Not Knowing”.

~ Chuang Tzu


The “don’t-know mind” is much more open than the “I-know mind.” It always leaves room for possibilities, growing, and learning. It gives you a sense of fearless open-mindedness.

~ Byron Katie


The jewel is always wrapped in that dark velvet of not knowing. 

~ Pamela Wilson 


You don't need answers today. Bless your questions today, as you walk, sit, stand, go about the business of your day. You don't need to feel 'better' today. What would happen if you gave yourself full permission today to feel confused, frightened, full of doubt? You don't need to understand today. Can't you see, even your non-understanding is beautiful, even your not knowing is sacred, held in the light of presence? 

~ Jeff Foster 


Confucius said,"To know that you don't know is the beginning of knowing."

~ Thich Nhat Hanh


If one can really come to that state of saying, "I do not know," 

it indicates an extraordinary sense of humility; 

there is no arrogance of knowledge; 

there is no self-assertive answer to make an impression. 

When you can actually say "I do not know," 

then in that state all fear ceases because all sense of recognition, 

the search into memory, has come to an end; 

there is no longer inquiry into the field of the known. 

Then comes the extraordinary thing. 

If you have so far followed what I am talking about, not just verbally, 

but if you are actually experiencing it, you will find that 

when you can say, "I do not know," all conditioning has stopped.

~ J. Krishnamurti


I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.

~ Socrates


And so, instead of trying to 'fix' our lives, instead of trying to neatly resolve the unresolveable and quickly complete the epic story of a fictitious 'me', we simply relax into utter not knowing, unravelling in the warm embrace of mystery, sinking deeply into the moment, savouring it fully, in all its uniqueness and wonder. And then, perhaps without any effort, without any struggle or stress, without 'you' being involved at all, the true answers will emerge in their own sweet time.

~ Jeff Foster


Though I play at the edges of knowing, truly I know our part is not knowing, but looking, and touching, and loving

~ Mary Oliver


If we talk of knowing the Self, there must be two Selves, one a knowing Self, another the Self which is known, and the process of knowing. The state we call realization is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything. If one is realized, he is that which alone is and which alone has always been. 

~ Ramana Maharshi 


Real knowing only is in not knowing. In not believing the thought that insists that I know or should know, there is the freedom for whatever is actually here to be acknowledged just as it is. Perhaps there is fear, perhaps pain, perhaps a sense of innocence, strength, or openness. Thoughts not only seem to help us to avoid feeling so-called 'negative' uncomfortable feelings, but also they seem to act as if they can limit our real power and freedom. How can they, really? I am freedom itself. Nothing can ever limit who I am. ~ Unmani Since no one really knows anything about God, those who think they do are just troublemakers. 

~ Rabia of Basra 


There are situations when all answers and explanations fade. When you fully accept that you do not know, you give up struggling to find answers with the limited thinking mind. That is when the greater intelligence can operate though you. Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing.

~ Eckhart Tolle


Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.

~ Pema Chodron


Can we open into love, not knowing where it will take us? Trust it to dissolve whatever we have accrued that is not fundamentally who we are, let it take us out on a limb and mould us into full embodiment - so we literally become what we are here to be - the presence of love in human flesh upon this earth? 

~ Miranda Macpherson 


So you're in the ocean and this fish called "wondering" swims by. 

So enjoy the fish and just let it go. 

Your business is savoring the moment, not wondering how to catalog that fish. 

So just enjoy the feeling of the ocean, the vastness.

~ Pamela Wilson


Earlier I was sure of so many things, now I am sure of nothing. But I feel that I have lost nothing by not knowing, because all my knowledge was false. My not knowing was in itself knowledge of the fact that all knowledge is ignorance, that "I do not know" is the only true statement the mind can make. 

~ Nisargadatta 


The state we call Realization is simply being one’s self, not knowing anything or becoming anything.

~ Ramana Maharshi


Not-knowing is true knowledge.

Presuming to know is a disease.

First realize that you are sick;

then you can move toward health.

~ Lao Tzu

Only two kinds of people can attain self-knowledge: those who are not encumbered at all with learning, that is to say, whose minds are not over-crowded with thoughts borrowed from others; and those who, after studying all the scriptures and sciences, have come to realise that they know nothing.

~ Sri Ramakrishna


Awakening comes unexpectedly when you do not wait for it, when you live in not-knowing. Only then are you available. 

~ Jean Klein 


Here's some very good news. Right here, right now, in this moment, you don't have to 'figure out' the rest of your life, no matter what anyone says. In this moment, you don't need all the answers. They will come, in time, or not, or perhaps the unnecessary questions will fall away. There is no rush. Life is not in a hurry. Be like the seasons. Winter is not trying to become summer. Spring does not rush towards autumn. The grass grows at its own pace. The choices that will be made will be made, and you've no choice about that. The decisions that will happen will happen, events will unfold, but right now perhaps you don't need to know the solutions or the outcomes or how best to proceed. Perhaps not knowing is a welcome guest at life's banquet. 

~ Jeff Foster 


Faith is stepping into the unknown and being comfortable with uncertainty and trusting your higher self

~ Deepak Chopra 


Sitting quietly, doing nothing, not knowing what is next and not concerned with what was or what may be next, a new mind is operating that is not connected with the conditioned past and yet perceives and understands the whole mechanism of conditioning. It is the unmasking of the self that is nothing but masks - images, memories of past experiences, fears, hopes, and the ceaseless demand to be something or become somebody.

~ Toni Packer


The ancient Masters didn't try to educate the people, But kindly taught them to not-know. When they think that they know the answers,  People are difficult to guide. When they know that they don't know,  People can find their own way. 

~ Lao Tzu 


We can forget our adult selves. Just simply forget them. They're not good for anything, not anything real, just this playing of this serious game where we dress up like big people and try to sound like we know what's going on. We don't know what's going on, none of us do. Just rest here as cluelessness. 

~ Jeannie Zandi 


Strange is our situation here on Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men - above all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.

~ Albert Einstein


"I don't know" is a fine state to be in. You are still busy working on your body-mind attachments. I would like you to leave all that behind. There is no end to that pruning, pull it up at the root. How? By staying as Awareness only. Stay as the Highest. Honor the Truth in yourself. This body was given to you so that you could discover your true nature, the Origin of all, the one unborn Self. To inquire, relentlessly contemplate and strive until you are fully free from the slimy quicksand of the ego-ridden mind. For this single purpose you have appeared into manifestation: to solve yourself by dissolving the you which is the non-self, and thereafter to effortlessly celebrate your discovery as Peace, Love, Light and Joy. 

~ Mooji


The door to God is the insecurity of not knowing anything. Bear the grace of that insecurity and all wisdom will be yours. 

~ Adyashanti 


Real knowing only is in not knowing. In not believing the thought that insists that I know or should know, there is the freedom for whatever is actually here to be acknowledged just as it is. Perhaps there is fear, perhaps pain, perhaps a sense of innocence, strength, or openness. Thoughts not only seem to help us to avoid feeling so-called 'negative' uncomfortable feelings, but also they seem to act as if they can limit our real power and freedom. How can they, really? I am freedom itself. Nothing can ever limit who I am. In not-knowing there is no doubt. In not-knowing there is absolute clarity. Simply the direct recognition of what is. This is what I am. I am Life itself. 

~ Unmani 

One of the most important qualities to cultivate on the the spiritual life is Divine Ignorance…

We all go around thinking we know this and that we know that….

But in truth we don’t know a damn thing about what is going on in this world….

Knowing you don’t know: that’s divine ignorance…..

But thinking you know….well that’s just plain ignorance.

~ Robert Adams


The more we think and talk about truth the further we wander from the truth. When we stop the mind's drive to know, there is nothing we cannot know. 

~ Jianzhi Sengcan, third Zen (Chan) patriarch 


Seeing is nude. And you can come to truth only when you are absolutely nude; when you have discarded all clothes, all philosophies, all theologies, all religions; when you have dropped all that has been given to you; when you come empty-handed, not knowing in any way. When you come with knowledge you come already corrupted. When you come in innocence, knowing that you don't know, then the doors are open -- then you will be able to know. Only that person who has no knowledge is capable of knowing.

~ Osho

after a lifetime

of struggling to know

the surprise of finding home

in not-knowing

like a return to childhood

without the child

in this not-knowing

nothing remains to be known.

~ Billy Doyle


bottom of page