• Richard Ingate

Life is Uncertain - and that is OK

I think the main idea is that our experience of these times of uncertainty is actually how the mind is anyway. Lots of people want to know how to navigate the current difficult events as best we can.

I think having a sense of the dance between state of mind and our external circumstances (such as business and family) and knowing how our states of mind tend to work is a useful part of this process - at least for me.

Although Alan Watts, ‘Wisdom of Insecurity’ is very popular, for me it was actually through the disciples of Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah, that I first heard this idea of ‘uncertainty’ expressed.

“One day Ajahn Chah held up a beautiful Chinese tea cup, “To me this cup is already broken. Because I know its fate, I can enjoy it fully here and now. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.” When we understand the truth of uncertainty and relax, we become free.”


Life always has been uncertain, but the tacit lie is that we are, can have, do, be, what ever we want, in a never ending stream of potential and creativity. Or, at least, that is the version in rich, Western countries. Other societies may have a less ‘Disney’ view.

Life has always been uncertain and there is also a never ending stream of creative potential, of formlessness coming into form. It is just that not much of a shit is given for any particular individual. Birth, life, decline and death are the natural order.

That’s for you, and for me.

When the storm comes, old branches are torn from trees, for sure, but so are young shoots and buds. The storm takes what it takes.

Life is uncertain - and that is OK when we know this is how things are and that they may completely and absolutely suck and be desperately sad - but it’s not ‘wrong’.

How about on the individual level?

Life is uncertain, not merely in the sense of if you don’t have the next breath, it’s done, but our minds are the same way.

Our thoughts and feelings are uncertain. Moment to moment who knows what thoughts will come along, what feelings will emerge? Whatever measure of control or predictability we think we have, we gain through a lifetime’s conditioning.

Yet that can turn on a dime, in a second.

So what?

I think, so what, in five ways.

  1. It’s already broken. The forms and structures continue until they don’t. This is true for bodies and institutions, for stability, health, pretty much everything. The wave is there to ride as long as it is there to ride.

  2. When it’s there to ride, it’s there to ride. Seize the moment. Don’t let the ‘scaredy mind’ that thinks it’s immortal say you nay.

  3. There’s always another wave - both in the world and, expressing as thought and feeling through us. It’s good to notice what has come along. Some clothes are better for some weathers. If you notice you are in a grump take care not to act that into the world of your business, of your family.

  4. There’s always another, another wave - Thoughts and feelings pass through our mental skies. There will always be another one. So, you can afford to be patient with your downs and graceful with your ups - they are not really yours.

  5. There’s an ocean - I have no idea why, but it seems to be true that as you notice your state of mind more, and are unconsciously acting it out less, there is a greater access to deeper states and capacities such as peace, joy, creativity. These clothes are a better fit for when you work on your business in challenging times!

Take away only

Become friendlier with your own state of mind in the moment. Much as you may want to, you don’t try to change your friend to suit yourself. Let yourself enjoy the peace of knowing that is all uncertain.


Jack Kornfield (https://jackkornfield.com/the-wisdom-of-insecurity/)

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