not knowing

I have experienced the incredible value of not knowing in every aspect of my life. This comes from my Zen practice, which has allowed me to realize that such a phenomenon had been growing in my consciousness for many years before being named as such.

I seem to have used that awareness in driving a bus in high school with the broadest range of class and race aboard in the rural South, when I took the path of treating everyone equally and with respect, in essence choosing not to know what one group might say about another group. Peace emerged within weeks on what had been a bus full of fighting and mayhem.

That awareness served me when I realized, in 1990, that what I had thought was a single musical phenomenon turned out to be the sum of other recognizable parts. This realization first led to a new approach to composing, then to a method of analysis. It has now evolved to the point that I realize the approach as a contemplative form of analysis, one that depends upon not knowing in order to hear what is really taking place in music.

And the place of not knowing has been of inestimable value in relations with other people: when I have the courage not to know, even when I think I do, I can deeply hear others. When not knowing is the foundation of action, all directions are possible, peace and justice are attainable. There is a great need of not knowing in the world today.