“I Don’t Know. I Don’t Care.
And, It Doesn’t Really Matter.”
By Kevin B. Rice*
[as it appeared in the October 2009 Newsletter]
“I Don’t Know”
Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down to dinner with a fellow author and a few students. One of my students said to me, “Kevin, I really liked that part of your lecture the other day where you said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t care, and it doesn’t really matter.’” (I read it off of my Zen calendar). My friend didn’t understand the statement, nor did she agree with it, until I broke it down into three sections and explained each one at length. First, the statement, “I don’t know.”
It is amazing to me when I sit down with couples for spiritual relationship counseling, how many of them presume to know what their futures hold.
In fact, much of the difficulty in relationships arises because so much of our time is wasted worrying about tomorrow ─ “How are we going to pay the bills? What if my husband meets someone at work? Are my kids going to be okay at summer camp?” Our time is wasted thinking we know what tomorrow will hold, or for that matter, the next minute of our lives. It is simply presumptuous to assume that we know what the future holds, and what is in our own best interest. We don’t. We never have known and we never will! “I Don’t Know” are the three most liberating words we can utter. Unfortunately, they can also be the most terrifying words we can say because we want to believe that we do know what the future holds.
I am reminded of the words of Jesus in the Christian tradition, and I paraphrase: Consider the lilies how they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet they grow! How much of our day is spent where our thoughts are toiling and spinning, wondering, worrying, hoping, reaching and grasping for something else, something better, something more? Too much, I would guess. What if we did the exact opposite and trusted in a greater Being to guide us upon this path we have chosen? What if we just stepped back and allowed that light within us all to step forward, to guide us through every experience? God’s plan for us is much greater, my friends, than anything we could ever orchestrate or contrive on our own.
I will leave you with a quote from the movie, The Shadowlands about the life of C.S. Lewis. He and his wife Joy are standing in the rain in Oxford, England. He whispers to his wife, Joy, who was suffering with cancer, “I don’t want to be somewhere else anymore. I don’t want anything new to happen to me. I’m not looking around the next corner, or over the next hill. I’m here now, and that’s enough.” My dear brothers and sisters, we may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow, and He is holding our hands.
“I Don’t Care”
On the surface, this may seem to be a very harsh statement. However, let’s look at it carefully. “I don’t care.” Does it seem so cold if I added the scripture, “Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for us.”? I’m not suggesting that we not extend compassion and love to others during trying times. I’m simply submitting that we do not add one whit to our lives by caring so much about something or someone, expending so much energy on others that we sap our own health and power in the process. Yes, we should love others as we would want to be loved. Yes, we should treat others as we would want to be treated. But, too often “caring” is nothing more than a guise for worrying, straining, and trying to carry a burden that we were never meant to carry. God’s yoke is easy. God’s burden is light! When caring becomes a strain, it is an indication that we are not caring, but rather giving our power away to something, or to someone, to take our peace away.
The world has it backwards. It teaches that we must “care” so much, to orchestrate people and things in order to achieve some semblance of peace. The opposite is true. We must first accept peace for ourselves before we can see it unfold “outside” of ourselves. We cannot, for instance, say that we do not want war, when we have one raging within our thoughts on a daily basis. If we want to experience true peace, we must allow ourselves to experience the comfort of it ourselves first. When this happens, our hearts and minds will open where we can genuinely care for the world by giving to it what it is so desperately crying out for – love.
“It Doesn’t Really Matter”
This is perhaps the hardest of the three to accept. I’m reminded of a statement in A Course In Miracles─Original Edition :
|If you but knew that every event, past, present, and to come, are gently planned by One whose only purpose is your good, fear would be impossible.|
This is an astounding statement!! If I had a dime for every time I looked at my life and said to myself, “I don’t know what this means,” I’d have at least thirty dollars! Yet, this is the exact statement we should tell ourselves. Nothing truly matters because reality is perfectly comforting at all times. It is only when we place our interpretation, our meaning upon life, when things go awry. “I don’t have a job; this must mean I’m a failure!” Or, “I’m making millions; this must mean I’m a success!” Or, “I’m in the hospital; this must mean I’m dying.” All of these statements are what we think is the meaning of what we’re going through.
What if we allowed God’s meaning to take the place of what we think this world is all about? “It Doesn’t Really Matter” because everything that is happening to us is happening for a reason. We may not understand it, we may not be able to wrap our heads around it, but underneath every appearance, regardless of the form it takes, there is a higher plan that is unfolding. Often times, we do not see it because we are too busy dictating to the world what it means instead of allowing God to dictate to us what this world means. This takes great courage. This requires us to leap empty into the void and trust in that unchanging, unchanged, and unchangeable Spirit that is moving through everything.
The statement, “Trust would solve every problem now,” is true. But, this must be more than just a concept. It must be an experience. As things change before our eyes, the tears will fall. But these tears are not good, nor are they bad, they just are!
I am reminded of a story about a woman whose son had just been killed in war. She visited an eastern mystic who said to her, “I cannot teach you to wipe away your tears. I can only teach you how to make them holy.”
In other words, let’s stop judging ourselves and others when the unthinkable happens. Let’s just let the tears flow (they are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid upon it, as someone once said) and let the feelings come without judging them, e.g.:“This is guilt! This is regret! This is jealousy!” Instead, let them come and burn within the very fibers of your being. Why? That fire is burning away everything that isn’t you, the real You – a holy child of a holy God.
“It Doesn’t Really Matter” can be summed up by a phrase in the Tao Te Ching: “What difference between yes and no? What difference between success and failure? Must you value what others value, and avoid what others avoid? How ridiculous!”
* Kevin Rice, is the author of The Game of Love-Changing the Rules Changes Everything. Kevin, a former fundamentalist evangelist, has hosted his own television and radio shows and has lectured to thousands of people across the country. Visit his web site at http://www.changingtherules.net