About

Very few of us have a taste for uncertainty – the older we get, the less we like it! As Krishnamurti says, certainty is all we want:

But we do not want the new, we do not want to be reborn. All that we want is to be made certain. After all, what we want is permanency, a continuity for us with the indications of the permanent – a permanent house, a permanent relationship, a permanent name, a permanent family, a continuity of activity, success – that is all we want. We do not want a revolution, we do not want to die each day to everything, we want to perpetuate memory; that is why we practice, we discipline, we resist, because the mind abhors a state of uncertainty. Sir, it is only the uncertain mind that can discover, not a certain mind. It is only the mind that knows that it is confused, and in that confusion, is quiet, that can discover. But the mind that is certain, that has continuity, that is a series of memories – everlasting – such a mind can never discover truth.

 

I came to live in Ireland in the summer of 1996 and spent that summer reading a book called The Self-Organizing Universe by Erich Jantsch. I had forgetten to return it to the college library in Brunel University, West London and thought I might as well read it. It was a big book and not particularly light reading but something about it kept my attention, and I read it from cover to cover. Half way through it a light-bulb type flash went off in my brain and I grasped (or felt that I grasped) the essentials of non-linear thermodynamics. This sounds dry but it wasn’t – I felt that my mental processes had somehow become bouyant and were not stuck in their usual predictable grooves. My brain had received a jolt and for the next month or two my mental feet (so to speak) were not quite touching the ground as I walked. I saw a direct parallel between what Ilya Prigogine calls the instability phase and the Tibetan teaching on the bardos, which are the gaps between one solid situation and then next (or the intermediate period between dying and being reborn). Both the instability phase and the bardo are marked by profound uncertainty – radical uncertainty – and I could now see with what seemed like great clarity how uncertainty is the most important thing in life, as well as being the richest in possibilities. The realm of everyday certainties – which we value so much – seemed to me to be barely worth any consideration at all. The random is so much more interesting than the regular, and yet we ignore the former in favour of the latter on a full-time basis…

 

Following this illumination (as it felt to me, at least) I started to write, in an attempt to apply what I saw as a new paradigm to the science of psychology, which I felt to be badly in need of something like this. For the next twenty years I carried on writing, but ran into the problem that whenever I got close to the end of one book I suddenly became aware of a much better way of approaching the subject and started off all over again. This kept on happening to me with the result that I never finished anything I started, and ended up with six or seven uncompleted books on ‘The Psychology of Uncertainty’ and many miscellaneous chapters neither belonging properly in one or the other. Somehow, no matter how focussed I tried to be, the path of my interest bifurcated over and over again and left me in the midst of a rather large confusion of bits and pieces, a lot of which – if I come across them, I cannot even remember writing at all. The ‘book’ that I wanted to write never appeared and I have since devoted myself to writing short, succinct pieces (or at least as short and succinct as I can manage). In this website I would like to resurrect some of the older, longer pieces, along with shorter new articles to hopefully tie them together. At least this way I feel that something has become of them, or might possibly become of them…

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