On July 10, 2021, after meditation we met online for a Teachers’ Corner session on the topic of “Embracing Uncertainty”
At Teachers’ Corner last Saturday, we watched excerpts from a lecture by Venerable Ajahn Brahm on “Embracing Uncertainty,” followed by a brief group discussion. Ajahn Brahm taught that the nature of this life is that we cannot control anything. The only thing we can believe with certainty is uncertainty. When asked what Buddha meant by “suffering,” his answer was “asking the world what it can never give you.” In this case, asking the world – including others and ourselves – for certainty; for all the details of your plan to work out exactly as you expected. This causes us to suffer, because we can never know for sure how things would turn out. When we truly understand that, we would not get frustrated or upset when things do not go as planned. Instead, we learn to embrace uncertainty, and even celebrate the beauty of uncertainty.
Ajahn Brahm is not telling us to not make any plans at all; instead, to always view those plans as tentative. And while we should still try our best to fulfill those plans, we should also be accepting and adaptive to things not going according to those plans. When we are able to adapt to unexpected circumstances, it allows us to cultivate our wisdom of seeing new possibilities and turning uncertainty into something positive, and our compassion of opening our hearts to the reality of uncertainty.
During group discussion, members shared their challenges with dealing with uncertainty, what they found most helpful from the lecture, and how they have dealt with unexpected circumstances such as simply by saying, “oh, interesting” which allows one to maintain an open and curious mind to see where that new circumstance may lead.
The video we shared during our session is posted below. Happy learning!
From the Teachers: Embracing Uncertainty
During our session, we watched the following segments of the video: from 00:00 to 21:41; from 35:47 to 54:20.
“Embracing Uncertainty” by Ven. Ajahn Brahm*
* Ven. Ajahn Brahmavaṃso, or simply Ajahn Brahm, is a renowned British-Australian Theravada Buddhist monk. Before becoming a monk, he studied Theoretical Physics at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge in the late 1960s and taught in a high school for one year before traveling to Thailand to become a monk. He was ordained in Bangkok at the age of 23, and subsequently spent 9 years studying and training in the forest meditation tradition under Ajahn Chah. Currently Ajahn Brahm is the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, in Serpentine, Western Australia. He is invited to give numerous lectures globally each year, and is an author of several books including Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy, and Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?