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Yoda, Chuang Tzu, learning, forgetting, and the Cloud of Unknowing

excerpted from THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, by Jack Haas




“You must unlearn that which you have learned.”




To turn towards the bald, innocent, immobilizing unfathomableness, without any direction, guidance, or expectation; to forget everything anyone has ever said‑ to stop looking for meaning, to remember nothing every instant, that is when the true life of wonder and miracle will again come upon us- when we abandon all knowledge of ourselves, when we lose the ability to recall perspective- when we forget everything.

Chuang Tzu relates a brief anecdote: “I am learning,” Yen Hui said. “How?” the Master said. “I forgot the rules of Righteousness and the levels of Benevolence,” he replied. “Good, but could be better,” the Master said. A few days later, Yen Hui remarked, “I am making progress.” “How?” the Master asked. “I forgot the Rituals and the Music,” he answered. “Better, but not perfect,” the Master said. Some time later, Yen Hui told the Master, “Now I sit down and forget everything.” The Master looked up, startled. “What do you mean, you forget everything?” he quickly asked. “I forget my body and senses, and leave all appearance and information behind,” answered Yen Hui. “In the middle of Nothing, I join the Source of All Things.” The Master bowed. “You have transcended the limitations of time and knowledge. I am far behind you. You have found the Way!”

It is through the emptiness that comes about from forgetting that we are returned to the great enigmatic whole. Or, more precisely, it is not we who are returned to the whole, the whole simply emerges- due to our absence; the whole, arises out of the hole.

Perhaps a little more information will clarify the matter. Let us dig deeper into this ‘forgetting’ business.

By ‘forgetting’ I am not speaking simply about the momentary loss of some object, or the name of some person, I am speaking of absolute amnesia, of a state where everything we thought we were, and everything we thought life was suddenly dissolves (dis-solves) away, and we are left with a blank-slate. We are gone completely, now and forever.

This essential fact is outlined in the anonymously written, unorthodox, mystical tract on wonder, The Cloud of Unknowing, which seeks to return us to our highest stature, not by coming to ‘know’ God, but by ‘unknowing’ everything. It states:  “Well, where is the hard work then? Without a doubt it is in the stamping out all remembrance of God's creation, and in keeping them covered by that cloud of forgetting... [For] if ever you are to come to of unknowing [in which God exists]... you must also put a cloud of forgetting beneath you and all creation.”

          To enter into the ‘cloud of unknowing’ first we must go through the ‘cloud of forgetting’ which requires us to totally leave the known, which means we must leave ourselves (or at least the sense which we now have of ourselves).

           We must disappear without remainder. Nothing must be left of what we thought the world was, or who we thought we were; to forget, is to forget everything. Everything. It is a death. The mind must be abandoned completely.


excerpted from:


way of wonder, sacred geometry, sri yantra



THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves

by Jack Haas

author Jack Haas, Canadian, American writer, artist, photographer














Mystical books, visionary art, and fine art photography by Jack Haas




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