What Do You Know?

by Jan Frazier

Moon Over LakeI know what I know. The knowledge is 24 karat. It is elemental, every atom of it like every other. It is cut with nothing, diluted with nothing. It is seen not through any lens. There is nothing in me that is not knowing. I am not separate from knowing. There is not a knower and a known.

I do not know anything that you do not also know. Here is the difference: Everything that used to obscure the knowing has gone from me. All I used to believe myself to be has fallen away like overcooked meat from a bone.

There are many kinds of knowledge, only one of them worth everything, only one of them not subject to opinion or degree or damage. If you come to that, you will know what I mean. If you don’t, listen to someone who has. There are people in the world who have this ultimate knowledge. They know what they are talking about. If you object or disagree with what they say, take the difficult route: assume it is because you do not understand. Assume you need to open your eyes wider, open your heart more, quiet the noise in your head. Assume it is you, not them. The longer you insist it is them, the further and harder you are pushing yourself from your own knowing.

Forget about time. It is an invention, a child’s drawing. It is a lie, a little game. T. S. Eliot wrote, “That which is only living can only die,” but don’t suppose everything is covered by that statement. What about that which is never born? What is that? Where is it to be found? Not later. Never later.

Tell your mind to stop giving itself airs. Laugh at your mind and its playthings, which are thoughts. Pick up your mind like a toy box and dump it out. Sit in the emptiness that is left. All you dumped out is insubstantial. It is all a pack of lies.

Believe me. Remember: I know. Remember this too: You know. You just don’t know you know. Until you do, take my word for it. Don’t argue. You don’t have time to argue. You don’t have time. Time is a lie.

When you feel the most alive, you do not experience time. Your mind is one big fat empty, one big fat now. That is the real. You know something then. Pay attention. Attention is all. Not the paying attention to, not to the what. Just attention, pure attention. Attend. Death is coming.

Undress yourself. Remove the heavy clothing of your self-definition. You are not woman, you are not American, you are not son, you are not spiritual seeker, executive, teacher, unemployed, you are not wounded, you are not highly respected, you are not productive, you are not blah-blah-blah-blah. Fill in the blanks. Draw more blanks, fill them in, draw as many blanks as you need to draw to fill in. Pile all the filled-in blanks into the toy box, carry it to the edge of a cliff, and dump it. Watch them drift down, so prettily in the breeze. Wave. Say, Bye-bye! I had fun with you! Good riddance!

When they are out of sight (it will take a while, be patient), ask yourself this: Who am I now? And the answer will fill you with knowing that you are the great green world, you are animal and air, you are star, you are me, you are (believe it) God Almighty. And you will look at what you used to think of as your hands and your legs, you will stroke your hair and your cheek, you will put your fingers over your bumping heart. You will pat yourself to realize—you are still here, you are alive, actual, human, powerful. You did not go over the cliff with your identities, you did not die, there was something left after all that was jettisoned, and what was it all anyway? And you will rejoice, oh yes, you won’t be able to help yourself. You will spread your arms and twirl, you will sing and laugh till your belly aches, and great heavy tears will crawl over your face, and you will be bejeweled in them.

Then somebody will come to you, and they will look wounded, and you will remember that same face in the mirror, and they will say to you, What do you know? And you will want to say to them, Everything, and so do you, you just don’t know it. And they will say, Help me to have what you have, help me to stop my hurting, and you will tell them how they can help themselves stop hurting, and they will object. They will say, But this and But that.

They will say, I want to be free, but I also want just this one other thing—okay, and maybe also this, also just this little this. Maybe I can stuff these two little things into my pocket, and you will say, But the pocket has to go, and they will argue.

They will tell you that they want to keep the good stuff but jettison the bad. And you will say, but it is all a lie, two sides of a bitter coin.

They will go away, probably mad, still hurting and wondering why.

And you will stay awake nights with your arms around them inside your heart that is the whole world, and you will take their pain into your heart that can take it. It will pass through your heart like water through a sieve, and as their suffering passes through you, you will feel it burn like acid. Then no more. Then silence, and stillness, outside the lie that time is.

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Jan FrazierAt the age of fifty, Jan Frazier experienced a radical transformation of consciousness. Fear came to a complete stop, as did all other forms of suffering, leaving her in a state of joyful wellbeing that has never left her. Profoundly changed inside, she has continued her life as a creative writing teacher and mother of two adolescents. This book is the result of her careful articulation of the unfolding process of finding herself without fear, much of it written in the eighteen months immediately following the day her fear fell away, as she explored the ramifications in her daily life.

Jan Frazier’s poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Yankee, Cimarron Review, and The Minnesota Review. Frazier has been inspired by Gurumayi, Krishnamurti, Eckhart Tolle, and other spiritual teachers, but the joy she lives in belongs to no particular tradition, and is available to all. She lives in rural western Massachusetts. Visit her at www.whenfearfallsaway.com

From When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening, by Jan Frazier. Copyright © 2012 by Jan Frazier. Reprinted by arrangement with Red Wheel/Weiser LLC, San Francisco, California. www.redwheelweiser.com