Several years ago, I started to work on a book I tentatively called “The Dharma according to Groucho.” The first section is called Getting to Not-Know You.
Not-knowing is the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers. My opinion of Not-Knowing is entering a situation without being attached to any opinion, idea or concept. This means total openness to the situation, deep listening to the situation.
It is the opinion of many scientists (including me) that about 15 billion years ago a tremendous explosion started the expansion of the universe. This explosion is known as the Big Bang. At the point of this event all of the matter and energy of space was contained at one point. What existed prior to this event is completely unknown and is a matter of pure speculation. This occurrence was not a conventional explosion but rather an event filling all of space with all of the particles of the embryonic universe rushing away from each other. The Big Bang actually consisted of an explosion of space within itself unlike an explosion of a bomb were fragments are thrown outward. The galaxies were not all clumped together, but rather the Big Bang laid the foundations for the universe.
Where’s the beginning in the big bang? You can’t know what’s there before the big bang, right? You can go down pretty damn close i mean they’re going down in nanoseconds and seeing what happens in there. And they’re going forward and stuff like that. But in the very beginning, that’s what’s called a singularity. You can’t know.
Now you may notice that in the Peacemakers, our first tenet is Not Knowing. It’s a state of not knowing, so what we say is if you’re going do something first approach it from that state of not knowing, that is get back to that initial singular point – to that point before the big bang. So if i can get back to that point of Not Knowing right now, and be there, then something happens and that’s the big bang. Now it starts unfolding. And it can unfold in a very creative way because it’s starting from this point of not knowing, this singular point. It’s starting from the beginning. Whatever you believe in it was created out of that big bang. Before that there was nothing.
Our job in Zen is to experience that beginning, that place before there’s anything. That’s what’s meant by the koan “what’s the sound of one hand” It’s before any phenomena, what’s that state? It’s not so easy to experience. But it can be done, and it has been done, and it’s being done. So we want to get to the beginning. I’ll jump to the end of this discussion, but it’s also the beginning. There’s an end point as well as that beginning point. The beginning point is singular, the end point is singular, and that end point in the Christian and Jewish world is called God. In Islam, it is Allah. In the Buddhist world it’s called Maitreya. These are different terms for similar ideas. So there’s this beginning point and end point, and in between is an evolution from the beginning point to the end point. Things are evolving. But the interesting thing about it is that this end point is creating the evolution from the beginning point. So that end point is also right here, now, in the beginning. And it’s all evolving between these two points.
A little metaphysical, but what’s fascinating about it to me is that if you go to the big bang and there’s just not knowing, or if you go to our state right now and say we can get to this place of not knowing, there’s this anything can happen. As soon as something bangs, as soon as something coalesces, as soon as two relations meet and there’s an event… As soon as anything happens, each starts evolving. And the forms, and by forms i mean not just physical forms but spiritual forms and mental forms and conscious forms and unconscious forms… All the forms evolve.
If you look at one billionth of a nanosecond after that big bang, there weren’t any of us around. There were different kinds of particles – they kept evolving, and they evolved to where we are. That means everything we’re made of including our consciousness and our spiritual being dates back to that initial point. And going forward everything that we are keeps evolving to the singular point that we call God or Allah or i call Not Knowing – just the state of not knowing. So that for me the beginning point and the end point are the same and they’re drawing our evolution.