Freedom from the Known

There is a common theme that emerges from all of the great philosophers throughout history; an ability to say “I don’t know”.  Renowned Indian philosopher, Krishnamurti, believed that only when a mind is not seeking, not expecting or looking for answers can we say “I understand”.  It is the only in this state he concluded that “the mind is free, and from that state you can look at the things that are known – but not the other way around. From the known you cannot possibly see the unknown; but once you have understood the state of a mind that is free – which is the mind that says, “I don’t know” and remains unknowing there is wisdom. But most of us unconsciously remain in the field of the known, with all its conflicts, striving, disputes, agonies, and from that field we try to find that which is unknown; therefore, we are not really seeking freedom. What we want is the continuation, the extension of the same old thing: the known.”

Likewise, the path of wisdom for Greek philosopher Socrates was launched in the idea that one should know thy Self. Socrates was a heroic figure and was said to be the wisest of humans because he realized he didn’t know, he realized he didn’t have the answers. He couldn’t believe that he was wise, and got into a lot of trouble trying to prove this by questioning other “wise” people who, as it turned out, didn’t have the answers either, but who thought they did.  This was the motivation for the now infamous Socratic Dialogue; to enter into the unknown together and discover things beyond our individual knowing.  One should know oneself by entering into Deep-Dialogue. Part of the openness is being open to self- revision and self-criticism, both internal and external. Do that in a healthy way, whether individually or for your group. Socrates famously echoed a lineage of philosophers believing that only the examined life is worth living.