Recently the topic of unpredictability keeps arising. It seems so central to Zen practice, the acceptable that we have really no idea what one moment will hold to the next, which, in turn, allows this moment as it is to be lived.
Recently I read two passages that I thought we so similar, that I would share them:
The first is from Nassim Taleb, from his book, the Black Swan, which talks about randomness:
Our minds are wonderful explanation machines, capable of making sense out of almost anything, capable of mounting explanations for all manner of phenomena and generally incapable of accepting the idea of unpredictability.  events were unpredictable, but intelligent people thought they were capable of providing convincing explanations for them---after the fact. Furthermore, the more intelligent the person, the better sounding the explanation. Whats more worrisome is that all these beliefs and accounts appeared to be logically coherent and devoid of inconsistencies.
Taleb goes on in his book to propose that the efficient market strategy is to take into account the unpredictability of truly influential events, and to position yourself to take advantage of them.
Anyway, I was reminded of this passage when I read a similar passage in John Tarrant's book, Bring me the Rhinoceros:
What if it's true that real insight and joy don't come from the direction your expect such things to come from? If what you really want could come from any direction, that information might change the way you conduct your life. Instead of watching out for danger, you might be vigilant for happiness
So that's whats been banging away inside of me. That life is utterly unpredictable and that perhaps that is a good thing. What I am noticing is how hard I work to make sense of how things came to be. But when I look at those explanations, they are merely stories protecting me from the fear that I really have no idea what is going on and how things happened, and more importantly, WHAT is going to happen. What I am finding is that when I loosen my belief in those stories that I know what happened and how it happened and how it could have been prevented or how it could be repeated, then I am forced to acknowledge that I cannot predict what will happen. There is no pattern. With that, I can honestly start to realize that the most consequential events in my life were unpredicted, and unpredictable. I have a remarkably poor track record for predicting what would make me happy and fulfilled. That can be a gift. Somewhere in accepting that, is a small freedom to accept that happiness could come from anywhere, and anyone. That I have no idea what will happen, so I can stop trying so hard to control things. When I let go of the control, it makes it easier to admit that happiness could be at the bottom of a really nasty surprise, and then I find that, often, it is. It also makes it easier to accept things as they are, which means that they cannot really fail my expectations, because those explanations are no longer really believed.
Interesting to me also that a Zen teacher and a statistician/financial analyst agree on the same principals.
Nobody knows whats going on.
I am going to publish this right now before I erase it again and have to retype it all.
“A Course on Koans” is the delusion-riddled work of Chris Kufu (“Wind in the Void”) Wilson, who began practicing Zen in 1967. He regards Taizan Maezumi, Robert Aitken, and David Weinstein as his root teachers. Each of them pecked at his shell until he “completed” the never-ending koan curriculum of the Harada-Yasutani lineage.
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