Admittedly, uncertainty is in a different league than sex. Yet it is as valid to praise the joy of uncertainty as the joy of sex. They both promise prodigious pleasure to those willing to take some risks and leave the familiar boundaries of the known.
When I speak of uncertainty I’m mainly referring to the spiritual variety: the embrace of mystery and not-knowing, opening yourself to higher truths in any sort of form they may present themselves, casting aside rigid programmed beliefs in favor of surprise me!
But you can’t confine uncertainty. It’s everywhere. It’s part and parcel of life itself. It’s what adds the spice to what otherwise would be bland routinized existence.
Which connects uncertainty with sex. The thrill of the unknown. Someone new. Green pastures. A hint of danger. Losing control. A generous dose of uncertainty is part of the formula for satisfying sex.
The same goes for satisfying spirituality. A few days ago I ran into an old meditation buddy who I hadn’t seen for at least ten years. He asked how I was doing, spiritually speaking.
“I’ve become a heretic,” I said. “I don’t know anymore. I’m not sure of anything. I’ve lost faith in everything except my own experience. It feels good. I’m a lot more relaxed now. The pressure’s off.”
Uncertainty is something you can count on. Indeed, you can be certain of it. Plus, uncertainty is real, honest, natural, humble, energizing, and scientific. I love it. I’d give it a big hug if I could pin it down. But it always pops up when you least expect it, and then dashes off again unexpectedly.
That’s the nature of uncertainty. Can’t change it. Wouldn’t want to. It’s a wild, unpredictable spiritual catalyst that brings passion into a person’s relationship with the cosmos.
Absent uncertainty, life is boringly mechanical and dryly logical. With uncertainty, life crooks its alluring finger and whispers “Step around the corner, honey, and see what surprise I’ve got for you.”
Uncertainty is the death of religion. It’s the lifeblood of mysticism and genuine spirituality. That’s how you can tell when you’re in the presence of deadening fundamentalism: you won’t hear “I don’t know,” “It’s a mystery,” or “Who can say?”
You have to dig deep to reach the uncertain mystical core of most religions. It’s there, but buried under dogma, scripture, theology, organized principles of metaphysics. Only a few spiritual traditions elevate uncertainty to the pinnacle that it deserves. Taoism. Buddhism.
Here’s an excerpt from Ray Grigg’s great book, “The Tao of Zen.” As you can tell from the title, he links authentic Taoism and Buddhism, revealing the common essence of both.
The wisdom, the peace, the grace of Taoism and Zen come from a special uncertainty. The result is a condition of perpetual preparedness, an easy readiness that takes an appropriate shape for every particular circumstance. Every answer becomes “as the situation arises.” Each individual person becomes the balanced and shapeless center of the universe, dancing alone with the unpredictable order that swirls everywhere.
…In a world full of people who are strewn between total confusion and absolute certainty, the Taoist and Zen challenge is the nearly impossible simplicity of reaching a deep insight that is wholly inclusive yet devoid of answers.
And here’s a link to an interesting piece, “Surprised by Joy: Experiments with Uncertainty,” from a fellow uncertainty embracer, Mel Crossley.
I have to add: this post turned out quite different from what I envisioned when I began writing. As it should have, given my subject. Now, it’s time to open the refrigerator and see what there is to eat for dinner. I'm ready to be surprised.