The Wisdom of Uncertainty

By Vidya Reddy

Welcome to the Happiness corner. 

Contrary to popular opinion, we, as human beings, don’t really know much at all.

I’m aware that might cause your mind to bristle a little, or perhaps bring out a little righteous indignation, but it’s impossible to deny when you look a little deeper. In uncertain times, it is only natural for us to search for certainty. It provides a feeling of comfort, of safety, perhaps even a sense of belonging. In a world where everything is constantly changing, where people, places, politics, situations, and even our own mind is in a constant state of flux, the illusion of certainty can be highly appealing and reassuring.

It’s important to differentiate between what we know and what we believe we know. It’s the difference between what we suspect, what we know, and what we’ve been told.

So what we know is only what we experience, no more and no less. If we let go of everything we’ve ever read, ever heard, or ever been told, then we are left with nothing but our experience. And even this is constantly changing as each moment and each experience gives way to the next. And when all is said and done, we are left with nothing but the experience of the present moment, which is the certainty of now.

The wisdom close up

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Dr. Vidya Reddy

For some, this type of reflection is a revelation, an opportunity to let go of old baggage, and a vehicle to a renewed sense of wonder and curiosity in life. They can almost hear collective consciousness breathe an enormous sigh of relief as each and every one of us realizes that we no longer need to pretend to have all the answers. Phew, what a relief!

For others, this thought of not knowing much can be the cause of heart palpitations, rising blood pressure, and sweaty palms; in short, it is too much to consider and they prefer to cling to well-rehearsed opinions and the remnants of certain beliefs. Clinging onto the illusion of certainty. Because it’s more comfortable than peering into the chasm of uncertainty.

But there is no shame in not knowing, there is only freedom. An uncertain mind is an open mind. It is a mind which is curious, interested, reflective, and malleable. When we meet life with a genuine sense of uncertainty, we cease projecting what we think we know, and we begin to see life for what it truly is. The same goes for the people around us. It is only in letting go of our preconceptions and opinions of others that we allow them to be who they truly are, to change and evolve from one moment to the next.

The wisdom on bench

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

An uncertain mind is an open mind

This is the wisdom of uncertainty.

It is not a rejection of the human intellect, nor does it disrespect the opinion of others. It doesn’t negate or devalue the experience of others. If anything, it fosters the search for greater intellectual understanding, whilst embracing the ideas of others. It offers the opportunity for a considered response to the events of life, finding resolution where there is conflict and peace where there is war.

The wisdom of uncertainty highlights the importance of experiential understanding nonetheless. But to think about being content with it is one thing, to actually be content is something else. It is not enough to simply believe, you need to discover and find out for yourself. It is not enough to suspect it, you need to feel and know it intimately.

Just to be clear, this is not about thinking about uncertainty, because that would be no more than doubt and confusion. No, this is the direct experience of uncertainty itself, from moment to moment, free from thought, judgment, opinion, or analysis. It is naked awareness. It is life itself, unfolding before your eyes. So think about this thought, it may give you newfound inspiration. 

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

Dr.Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC