I don’t know what life is about, and I don’t know what happens when I die, but that’s fine because I’ve started to love the mystery of it all
Strong Beliefs are Toxic
Holding onto strong beliefs can be painful for me – they can be toxic. It means that I feel threatened by those who hold opposing views, and I can become almost obsessed with proving that these enemies of reason are wrong or stupid. This is because deep down I know that my certainty is built upon a shaky foundation. Those who hold a contradictory view are a nasty reminder of my weakness, and I can dislike these people (who are often strangers) because of the threat they pose to my worldview. It can be so frustrating to put life into a tidy box only to have other people mess with this neatness. It took me a long time to realise that it wasn’t the opposing beliefs that were my enemy, but the ridiculousness of my own conviction in my beliefs.
There is no certainty in life, and any strong beliefs that I might hold are an attempt to ignore this reality. In the past I’ve grasped onto anything that seems to be offering me certainty – this included the cold logic of science as well as the promises of spiritual teachers. This search for certainty always meant adopting a new set of beliefs that I then felt the need to defend – same shit different venue. This is a game that is the cause of much human suffering, but there is no doubt that it is a seductive trap. The need for certainty is as powerful as any addiction. The cure for this can at first feel frightening – it is a tough pill to swallow. It can be hard to accept that life is just one wonderful mystery, and the only really honest answer to any of the big questions is, “I don’t know”. It is such a great relief for me to reach this realisation because it means there is nothing more to defend.
The God of Not Knowing
During my drunken years I held strong atheistic beliefs, but this changed to a more agnostic attitude in early recovery. Now I am happy to admit that I do believe in God, but it is not the type of god that most religious people will find familiar. My God is a complete mystery. I don’t even know if he/she/it likes me – never mind takes care of me. I do not pretend to know anything about this force, but I do worship it in my own way. My God is everything that exists, and I’m happy that it is such a mysterious thing. The fact that I know nothing about my God means there is nothing to defend. I could just as well use the term “widget” to describe it, but I think this central mystery of life deserves the title of God. I’ve found that by embracing the uncertainty in life, and learning to worship the mystery of it all, I’m being led to real serenity. I like having a God because it keeps me humble. It has brought me into alignment with reality, and this has to be a good thing.
The Power of Not Knowing
There is great power in admitting that I don’t know. It seems that the more I do this the more content I become. I’ve found that there is nothing to be feared by embracing the mystery of reality. It means returning to a relationship with the world that I enjoyed as a young child. All those beliefs and opinions that I accumulated over the years are similar to the bird shit that accumulates on the front windscreen of my car – it just gets in the way of seeing the real beauty out there. I don’t know what life is about, and I don’t know what happens when I die, but that’s fine because I’ve grown to love a mystery.