The Power of Not Knowing

Twenty years ago, a friend of the author took him to see a Zen Buddhist master from Korea called Seung Sahn who had started a number of spiritual communities around the world. His teaching was simple: it had to do with not knowing. Read this thought-provoking–and amusing!–excerpt about this Buddhist masterís teaching here:

What is God? Donít know. Where did you come from? Donít know. What existed before the universe? Donít know. What is outside the Universe that it expands into? Donít know.

Seung Sahn asked his students to use ďdonít know soapĒ on their heads several times a day to cleanse their ideas and opinions! From his perspective, their difficulties came from thinking they knew the answers. To clear their minds of opinions helped make space for the spontaneity of the present moment. His studentsí most logical arguments never modified his loyalty to not knowing.

Adapted from Consciousness in Action, by Andrew Beath (Lantern Books, 2005). Copyright (c) 2005 by Andrew Beath. Reprinted by permission of Lantern Books.
Adapted from Consciousness in Action, by Andrew Beath (Lantern Books, 2005).


Elena T.
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you :)

Heidi R.
Past Member 5 years ago

There's a great wisdom to this - not knowing. It certainly can help us stop prejudice and closed mindedness. Thank you.

Jane Warren
Jane Warren5 years ago

The teaching of "not knowing" is not saying that ignorance is bliss.
It clears the mind of opinions that are written in stone, without fact or support.

"Not knowing" means that you are no longer the centre of the universe.

Tim C.
Tim C5 years ago


Carole R.
Carole R6 years ago

OK. So that's why so many people say "who cares" now days??

Beverly G.
bev g6 years ago

Yeh i agree ignorance is bliss, whe u aint stupid and think to much and worry like i do cos im not stupid, sometimes i wish iwas thick. Knowledge is Power as they say but, sometimes too much of it does your head in.!

Valerie V.
Valerie V.6 years ago

There's a big difference between saying "don't know" to an unknowable question, such as what the nothingness of the universe is expanding into, and someone saying he doesn't need to know about something that can kill people, such as vaccinating children against cancer-causing, sexually transmitted human papilloma virus.

A parent absolutely cannot know that his/her child will never be exposed to human papilloma virus as a minor. They just *hope* she won't. That is horribly irresponsible of them.

Ida J.
Ida J6 years ago


Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W7 years ago

Ignorance is bliss.