Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl


Start with “I don’t know.” Why not just start with where you’ll end up anyway? ~Adyashanti

I was never a legit Trekkie but I did enjoy and was inspired by two of the series – Next Generation, and Voyager.

Each series had a crew member characterized by intellectual and logical prowess – Data, the android in Next Generation, and Tuvok, the Vulcan in Voyager. Occasionally they were confronted with a question they could not answer.

“What is the composition of the gasses in that nebula?”

“What is the origin of that ship speeding towards us on an intercept course?”

“What dimension did these aliens just emerge from?”

When unable to answer, Data or Tuvok would simply reply “unknown.”

Lately, when feeling that urge to understand what cannot be understood, to describe what cannot be described, to have certainty where none exists, I have interrupted my endless mind loops with a simple word – unknown.

My mind hates that. My mind is useful for many things, and I appreciate its contribution to my life. But minds are wired to know, to identify, to categorize, to understand, to store and retrieve. Confronted with mystery, our minds continue to search for an answer. That’s fine if the mystery is about what is making that scratching sound in the attic, but it doesn’t work when the question is beyond the limits of mind, when the answer is not only unknown, but unknowable.

Not one to give up, the mind solves the dilemma by latching onto an answer. Then a problem arises when someone else’s mind latches onto a different answer. Which answer is The Answer?

How can we know? We can’t. As one teacher says, we cannot think our way to truth. Thinking is always one step away from truth. Truth just is, regardless of what we think or don’t think. When we drop everything we think we know, there it is, shining like a light that has been uncovered, shining as it always has been and always will.

But as soon as we try to think about it, or understand it, or explain it, it disappears again, not because it isn’t there but because our efforts to hold it in our minds block our inner sight. As the song says, how do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

Someone recently joked that I’m like Oprah. (Really, they were joking.) Oh no, I replied. Oprah’s monthly magazine ends with a column titled “What I Know for Sure.” Oprah knows something for sure at least twelve times a year. I don’t know doodley-squat … ever.

Footprints lead to the shore of the sea
Beyond that point no trace remains

15 thoughts on “Unknown”

  1. I admire your search for truth and your background of knowledge from various sources. All that God has revealed to us is truth. We are told in The Book of Mormon in Moroni 10:5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. This can be put to the test. If we want to know truth we can pray and the Holy Ghost will testify of truth. One other things that I believe is that God has promised us that as we have faith and culitviate that faith and live in faith; that we will know all the mysteries of God someday; which will be the truth of all things. I look forward to being able to know those mysteries someday.
    As always, you stimulate my thoughts. Blessings and hugs!

  2. There are no words for those moments of truth we glimpse in an instant, and then it's gone again. But it is there, and "I don't know" is the perfect rejoinder.
    Blessings, Galen!

  3. This *Truth just is, regardless of what we think or don’t think. When we drop everything we think we know, there it is, shining like a light that has been uncovered, shining as it always has been and always will.* is a powerful reminder, right when I needed it. Thank you!

    I say "I don't know" quite often. It might sound cliche but it's true for me that my heart always knows. If I just take time to quiet and listen (and follow-through with what I hear).

  4. I am a legit Trekkie and these are my favorite of the series, too. I'm also a fan of truth, which seems in short supply these days. I like the idea of thinking of "unknown" as a way to quiet my busy mind. Or "I don't know." Sending you lots of love, Galen. 🙂

  5. As the Bible says, now we see through a glass darkly, but then we will see face to face. All that "is" is truth. We tell stories about what is, but the stories are not truth. Truth is truth, revealed to us through all that is. Thanks for commenting, LeAnn.

  6. Yes, Joy, the heart knows always because the heart is in direct relationship with truth, unfiltered by the stories the mind tells. So the "I don't know" means that our thinking minds cannot know what the heart intuitively knows. Like you, I listen for that guidance. Good to hear from you, Joy, and congratulations on your new life adventure!

  7. Your comment reminds me of the standard "enlightenment" joke — "I got it! I lost it!" When we hold on, it's gone. Thanks for commenting, Martha.

  8. We really should get together, DJan. Now we have even more in common! We can watch reruns of our favorite episodes. Do you speak Klingon? (I don't, but I know someone who does!)

  9. This comes in very useful for me at the moment for family problems having reared their head. I have been cogitating on the various aspects for the last three days, and am now accepting that the different opinions and judgments going on (between me and my sibling)will not be able to be resolved by little old me, no matter how I try. So 'unknown' and 'I just don't know' will quieten my mind if i keep going around and around in circles of thinking.
    Love your Rumi quote and loved Data from Star Trek, felt so much empathy for him!

  10. Family problems…with siblings…you have my sympathy. So many emotional factors get stirred in with the elusiveness of understanding and resolution. This is practicing on the "razor's edge" for sure. Good luck.

  11. The "I don't know" conclusion on the deeper questions of life, is the most logical and rational in my opinion. It is in this agnostic position where I found the greatest truth. This truth has set me free. The egotistical position of "I know" ,"my truth is the only truth", closes the door to greater clarity and it closes us off from the idea of oneness with all life.

  12. The mind is a wonderful thing, but it cannot see outside itself. Your description of the ramifications of "I know" is perfect. It is inherently limiting and separating. Thanks for commenting.

  13. When we say "I know" we no longer look for truth because we believe we have it all encapsulated in a finite belief system.But,it seems like Truth cannot be contained, it is associated with an intelligent and infinite creative process, it keeps expanding into greater realization. We can know a truth but not all truth. To say "I don't know" is the highest wisdom.

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