Embrace not-knowing, and be yourself

One of my favorite key slogans I like to be reminded of!

Not-knowing is a term and experience I got introduced to in a Shambhala Arts program (based on the dharma art teachings of meditation master, artist and remarkable person Chögyam Trungpa).

As a crucial pre-requisite to let something happen and remain uninhibited, without pre-conceived ideas and open-minded as the movement,  or dance, or poem, or singing a vowel, or painting, or seeing unfolds.

Not-knowing, just as knowing, is something you can train.

Watch also this interesting monologue/inspirator on embracing the not-knowing and be the apple tree: by Kyle Cease – The End of Control

In my quest to be happy and what art means to me
I assumed becoming an artist and happiness to be unquestionable related, but got sincerely frustrated and confused over the years as I met hardly any inspired examples of the balancedness I wished for.

As I gradually gained clarity my understanding shifted
Not-knowing is not just related to arts and creativity, but in every form of my being and expression.

Why do I like to know not-knowing?

  • Because I am curious above all 🙂
  • Although wanting to know what not-knowing is sounds like a contradiction in itself, but it is not. My longing to experience something beyond my own gained knowledge simply is fueled by a long-time feeling of suspicion in knowledge-oriented circles(mainly schools) and philosophical circles I bumped into; I became closed instead of open. Understanding differs from knowing; gaining clarity means understanding more, and so it becomes clear. 
  • Because I would like to gain happiness and satisfaction at any moment. “That is just not possible, get over it” – the echo of of parents, teachers of all kinds and a long line of ancestors.

I learned there is (still) little source material to become skilled in not-knowing. Whether it is because of my own insistence or the current time accommodates the exploration of not-knowing way more, likely it is both, there is more material available.

Just be who you are naturally, no additions, no subtractions, no alterations, judgement.

Be Adam, be Eve. Don’t eat from the tree of knowledge – remain innocent. Don’t know anything except dat you are here and now and your are free to create according to your highest excitement.

Bentinho Massaro

Now, how do you embrace not-knowing?
Just do it. Embrace it, over and over.

  • Doing here means: feeling out and listen to your own impulses, your own unique resources in your daily life. Which has nothing to do with your planning for now, today or later this week.
  • Doing also means; follow up on your resonance, follow the breadcrumps of your excitement, without needing to know what the possible outcome may be – let it unfold.

How to be yourself?
It is up to you to discover!

No one has the right answer for you. As Buddha himself always pointed to this something like: “Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words/find out for yourself what is truth, what is real”.

There are others out there to be of support helping you figuring it out, and like-minded others as inspiration to be more of yourself as the not-knowing unfolds. And as you go back into knowing, simply because you are good at it. This is not considered a problem, but simply part of the process.

Allow yourself lovingly kind to go back and forth between knowing and not-knowing, until you become more familiair with hanging out into not-knowing and unfolding.

Hang and lean in into not-knowing.

I found myself open to
the unknown without grasping I  simply
open into the unknown I drop into
a place of relaxed curiosity and then
something else emerges

(found in “Arts-based and Contemplative Practices in research and teaching: Honoring Presence“)

 Photo ©Hèlen A Vink, Amsterdam, December 28 2015


  1. I have two projects, one written and one photo. I am stuck and do not know where either of them is going.

    Your post was well-timed! It gave me the insight that not knowing is all part of the process and should not be resisted.


    (London course a few years ago)

    1. Hi Peter, yes I recognize those moments of course very well. And good one, ‘should not be resisted’ – I learned the less I resist, or giving up resistance the easier the navigation on the road to what I truly wish for, my true passion. Although I found that is a practice in itself, giving up resistance, of all sorts 🙂 Resistance actually becomes a sort of doorway, once recognized.

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