The Unknown

“Wisdom is the art of being courageous and generous with the unknown.” – John O’Donohue

The unknown is always lurking just around the corner. It is that which exists but is of yet beyond the reach of our comprehension. It is that which has not yet manifest and is of yet a figment of present imagination. It is either the entirely formless “face of the deep” or its shape cannot yet be fully discerned by our mind.

To the musician, the unknown is a piece he has not yet played, a piece he does yet possess the technical ability to master, or a piece that has yet to be written. To the entrepreneur, the unknown is an existing market he knows nothing about, a market that he does not yet have the resources to penetrate, or a market that has not yet formed. The unknown lies just beyond the known, in every sphere of human activity and thought.

Realizing this, it is important to ask yourself how you tend to meet the unknown. There is more than one way to face the unknown. You can face the same set of factors with courage and generosity or with fear and distrust. You can tense up and hurl yourself at it, hide from it, or greet it with open arms.

In my experience, the unknown is best handled with courage and generosity. Approaching the unknown in this way virtually guarantees that you will maintain your poise, no matter what emerges from the darkness of the unknown. And poise, self-possession, equanimity allow you to have the presence of mind to approach matters wisely, rather than reflexively.

Wisdom is as much a matter of a pure and tranquil heart as it is a matter of a dignified and balanced mind. Fear, for instance, focuses the mind but binds the heart. Courage and generosity, however, bring perspective to the mind and embolden the heart. Wisdom cannot flow through a prejudiced mind or a clenched heart. The mind must be keen and the heart must be supple for wisdom to flow.

You need not meet the unknown reactively or automatically, in fact, you can always face it consciously and participate in its unfoldment. The important thing to remember is that you have a choice.

Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

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