Not Knowing

Murray W. Enkin
Ignorance; You Know That You Don’t Know, Others Know That You Don’t Know, and It Doesn’t Matter.

T.S.Eliot asked ‘‘Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge that we have lost in information?’’ Somehow, it is very satisfying to have reached this ultimate stage of ignorance, this stage of ultimate ignorance, to realize that information mutates, and knowledge withers (or rotates). To know that always someone will ‘‘know,’’ just as you did, only better—or at least more so.
Perhaps the seventh stage of ignorance is wisdom. Perhaps! I don’t know.

(Seven Stages of Ignorance by Murray W. Enkin, MD, Prof. Emeritus, McMaster Univ., Canada)


o   Knowledge is borrowed. And can you borrow truth? Truth is un-transferable; nobody can give it to you. Not even an alive Master can transmit it to you. You can learn, but it cannot be taught. So what to say about dead scriptures, howsoever holy they may be? They must have come from some original source; some Master, someone awakened must have been at the very source of them -- but now they are only words. They are only words about truth, information about truth.

o   Knowledge will go on enhancing, decorating, enriching your memory, but not your being. Your being is a totally different phenomenon. In fact, knowledge will create barriers. One has to unlearn all that one has learned -- only then does one reach the being……One has to be innocent Not knowing is the most intimate. Knowing creates distance.

o   For the simple reason that if you accumulate knowledge you will be starting to believe in conclusions. You will already conclude what truth is without KNOWING it, and your conclusion will become the greatest hindrance. Truth has to be approached in utter nudity, in utter purity, in silence, in a state of innocence, child-like wonder and awe; not knowing already, not full of the rubbish called knowledge, …….. but utterly silent...without any thought, without any conclusion, without knowing anything about truth. When you approach in this way, suddenly truth is revealed. And truth is revealed here and now: "AH, THIS!" A great rejoicing starts happening inside you.

o   The function of the Masters is to help you drop your knowledge, to help you unlearn, to help you towards a state of un-conditioning. Your knowledge means you will be always looking through a curtain and that curtain will distort everything. And knowledge is dead.

o   Not knowing means one is neither ignorant nor knowledgeable. One is not knowledgeable because one is not interested in mere information, and one is not ignorant because one is not ignoring the most essential quest. One is not ignoring one's own being, one's own consciousness. Not knowing has a beauty of its own, a purity. It is just like a pure mirror, a lake utterly silent, reflecting the stars and the trees on the bank. The state of not knowing is the highest point in man's evolution.

J. Krishnamurti
o   If one can really come to that state of saying, "I do not know," it indicates an extraordinary sense of humility; there is no arrogance of knowledge; there is no self-assertive answer to make an impression. When you can actually say, "I do not know," which very few are capable of saying, then in that state all fear ceases because all sense of recognition, the search into memory, has come to an end; there is no longer inquiry into the field of the known. Then comes the extraordinary thing. If you have so far followed what I am talking about, not just verbally, but if you are actually experiencing it, you will find that when you can say, "I do not know," all conditioning has stopped. And what then is the state of the mind?

o   We are seeking something permanent -permanent in the sense of time, something enduring, everlasting. We see that everything about us is transient, in flux, being born, withering, and dying, and our search is always to establish something that will endure within the field of the known. But that which is truly sacred is beyond the measure of time; it is not to be found within the field of the known. The known operates only through thought, which is the response of memory to challenge. If I see that, and I want to find out how to end thinking, what am I to do? Surely, I must through self-knowledge, be aware of the whole process of my thinking. I must see that every thought, however subtle, however lofty, or however ignoble, stupid, has its roots in the known, in memory. If I see that very clearly, then the mind, when confronted with an immense problem, is capable of saying, "I do not know," because it has no answer.  


1.      Talks on Zen; Ah! This – Osho
3.      The Book of Life – J. Krishnamurti.
5.      Seven Stages of Ignorance by Murray W. Enkin, MD

Stuart Firestein: The pursuit of ignorance

Harlene Anderson and Not Knowing