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Edited by Peter Holleran

Once upon a time, a gathering of sages convened, each speaking their peace:

Zen Master Dogen: "To follow the buddha completely means you do not have your old views. To hit the mark completely means you have no new nest in which to settle."

Werner Von Braun: "Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing."

Shih-t'ou: "My ignorance far exceeds yours."

Socrates: " "As for me, all I know is I know nothing."

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj: "I found myself desiring and knowing less and less, until I could say in utter astonishment: 'I know nothing, I want nothing.' Earlier I was sure of so many things, now I am sure of nothing. But I feel 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 my knowledge is ignorance, that 'I do not now' is the only true statement the mind can make....I do not claim to know what you do not. In fact, I know much less than you do...."

"It is only your ignorance that makes you say: I know. Begin with the admission that you do not know and start from there...The very admission: 'I am ignorant' is the dawn of knowledge. An ignorant man is ignorant of his ignorance...To know that you do not understand is true knowledge, the knowledge of a humble heart."

Lao Tzu: "I alone have the mind of a fool, and am all muddled and vague. The people are so smart and bright. While I am just dull and confused. Those who say, do not know; those who know, do not say.”

Meister Eckhart: "And thus thine ignorance is not a defect but thy highest perfection."

Shree Atmananda Krishnamenon: “Ignorance of everything is the same as knowledge of everything, which is pure knowledge.”

Jeanne Guyon: "There are two kinds of people who keep silent. The first is one who has nothing to say, and the other is one who has too much to say."

Alastair Sims, from A Christmas Carol, 1951: "I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath.  "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy.  I am as giddy as a drunken man.  A merry Christmas to everybody!  A happy New Year to all the world! ...I don’t know anything. I never did know anything. But now I know I don’t know anything!”

Eckhart Tolle: "I don't know" is not confusion. Confusion is: "I don't know, but I should know" or "I don't know, but I need to know." When you let go of the belief that you should or need to know who you are, what happens to confusion? Suddenly it is gone. When you fully accept that you don't know, you actually enter a state of peace and clarity that is closer to who you truly are than thought could ever be."

"Don't try to understand what I'm saying. These are just pointers. I don't understand what I'm saying either. Pointers point to the state of direct realization but they're not a substitute for it."

Steven Harrison: "We have misunderstood our confusion when we think there is an answer to it. The confusion is not a result of questions that are too hard, but rather a questioner who is disintegrating. Confusion is the introduction to true intelligence."

Robert Adams: "It is the ego that wants to know.  When you begin to feel that you know less, that is a good sign, because you know less about the world and more about the self.  The more confounded you become, the more the ego breaks up."

Stephen Wingate:"There's nothing to get. There's nowhere to go. So, can answering questions get you there? When taken to their logical conclusion, the only honest answer to all questions, including the questions who am I? What am I? Where am I? When am I? And why am I?   is 'I don't know'. This sense of 'not knowing' is what you are. Everything is born, lives, and dies in this sense of not knowing. Another name for this sense of not knowing is awareness. This awareness is what you are. You can never attain this sense of not knowing, this awareness; you are it. You've always been this sense of not knowing. You'll always be this sense of not knowing. All questions are dissolved in you, this sense of not knowing."

Zen Master Bankei: "I tell my students and those of you coming regularly here to the temple: 'Be stupid!' Because you have got the dynamic function of the marvelously illuminating Buddha Mind, even if you get rid of discriminative understanding, you won't be foolish...With people who are clever, there are sure to be a great many shortcomings...There's really nothing wrong with being a blockhead!”

Charles Belyea: "Confidence derives from decisively acknowledging the unknowable aspect of the Tao, experiencing and drawing strength from its unfathomably vast potency, rather than diminishing ourselves and It by pinning it down."

Ashtavakra: "What man is there who, having observed the diversity of opinions among the great seers, saints, and yogins, and becoming completely indifferent to learning, does not address quietude...My child, you may often speak upon various scriptures or hear them recited. But you cannot be established in the Self unless you forget all."

St. John of the Cross: "This property of secrecy and supernatural over natural capacity, which belongs to this Divine contemplation, belongs to it, not only because it is supernatural, but also inasmuch as it is a road that guides and leads the soul to the perfection of union with God, which, as they are things unknown after a human manner, by unknowing and by Divine ignorance. For, speaking mystically, as we are speaking here, Divine things and perfection are known and understood as they are, not when they are being sought after and practiced, but when they have been found and practiced. To this purpose spake the prophet Baruch concerning this Divine wisdom: 'There is none that can know her ways nor that can imagine her paths.' "

   “It must be understood that if a person experiences some elevated spiritual communication or feeling or knowledge, it should not be thought that the experiences are similar to the clear and essential vision or possession of God or that the communication, no matter how remarkable it is, signifies a more notable possession of God or union with him. It should be known too that if all these sensible and spiritual communications are wanting and individuals live in dryness, darkness, and dereliction, they must not thereby think that God is anymore absent than in the former case. People, actually, cannot have certain knowledge from the one state that they are in God’s grace or from the other that they are not. As the Wise Man says, “We do not know if we are worthy of love of abhorrence before God.” [Eccl. 9:11]

Adyashanti: "While the world is trying to solve its problems and everyone around you is engaged in the same, you're not. While everybody around you is trying to figure it out, trying to arrive, trying to get there, trying to be worthy, you're not. While everyone thinks that awakening is a grand, noble, halo-enshrouded thing, for you it's not. While everybody is running from this life right now, in this moment, to try to get there, you're not. Where everybody has an argument with somebody else, mostly everybody else, starting with themselves, you don't. Where everybody is so sure that happiness will come when something is different than it is now, you know that it won't. When everybody else is looking to achieve the perfect state and hold on to it, you're not. When everybody around you has a whole host of ideas and beliefs about a whole variety of things, you don't....When you're living what you are in an awakened way, being simply what you've always been, you're actually very simple. You basically sit around wondering what all the fuss is about...

Shri Atmananda: It is the ego that puts all sorts of naughty questions. But alas, the ego dies immediately after every question, and does not remain even to listen to the answer. ‘To whom, then, am I to address the answer?’...The ego has shown, by its own conduct, that the question is as frivolous and illusory as himself, and that no reasonable answer can be expected for such unreasonable questions. If an answer can be given, it is only to prove that the question itself is absurd.”

 Master Hsi-Yun: “The knowledge of many things cannot compare with giving up the search. The sage is one who puts himself outside the range of objectivity. There are not different kinds of mind, and there is no doctrine which can be taught."

   As there was no more to be said, everybody walked away.......


Q. Is there anything higher still [than jivan-mukta] ?
A. Yes. Not in content, but in the naturalness of control. Though born, as a child in ignorance, it is the highest goal to become a ‘child in knowledge’. All jivan-muktas do not rise to that state and it is not necessary for their own purpose either.”
- Shree Atmananda Krishnamenon

[Note: this might be a reference to what PB referred to as a philosophic sage, as contrasted with a more ordinary sage, but both necessarily grounded in ‘unknowing’ or ‘wonder’ by their transcending the ego].