I am sure that most of you will agree with me that in life there is much uncertainty.

For starters there is the uncertainty that exists between ourselves and the outside world. We are usually bursting with questions to which we don’t naturally possess the answers. For example, we wonder whether the bus we are waiting for will be on time or whether there will be a table at our favorite restaurant when we arrive without a reservation on Friday night.

Of course, there are bigger uncertainties than these. Ever plucked the petals off of a daisy while chanting “he(she) loves me, he(she) loves me not”? I thought so. You, me and the rest of the planet friend!

There is also the uncertainty that exists between you and yourself. In this case, the answers to your questions are already within you but they can be hidden from view. A good example of this level of uncertainty is the difficulty many of us have answering the seemingly simple question “What Makes Me Happy?”. This is the kind of uncertainty that prompts us to turn our attention inward and begin asking questions about ourselves to ourselves. This very natural act of self-study is a profoundly spiritual practice and the beginning, middle and continuation of the quest to “know thyself”.

Uncertainty is therefore necessary in order for a person to evolve spiritually. Being uncertain is often very uncomfortable however, which means that we spend a lot of time and energy trying not only to avoid it but also to extract guarantees from life (marriage, job stability, RRSPs…). The practice of “self-preservation” is also very natural and important of course but once you have established a certain level of certainty in your life, what next?

Many spiritual traditions have an answer for this question. I am using the following explanation (from the Shaiva Siddhanta tradition) because of its simplicity. Also, for those of us living in southern Quebec or anywhere where the difference between the climatic seasons are so pronounced, we can observe the “cycle” that it describes very clearly in the changing of the seasons.

According to Shaiva Siddhanta, there are five stages in the cycle of change that governs everything about life and our experience of it. They are: Creation, Maintenance, Dissolution, Concealment and Revelation. 

The Concealment stage, of which uncertainty is an integral part, is reflected by the current climatic season of winter, where everything is covered with snow (or a derivative thereof), during which what lies beneath is obscured from view. In this stage there are many questions and very few answers. How is it possible to embrace this stage of “not knowing” when it can cause so much anxiety and fear?

We can learn to get excited about uncertainty when we understand what comes next: Revelation. Just as the warmth of the sun in spring melts the snow and coaxes the seeds that have been hibernating all winter long to burst forth with new life, so the answers and solutions to our many questions begin to thaw in our minds and bodies, providing fresh perspective and insight. Now that is something to get excited about!

When you find yourself experiencing uncertainty in an aspect of your life, know that the answers will come. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to minimize the discomfort of this stage:

  • Pay attention to the little signposts along the way that reassure you that you are on track. They often arrive in the subtle forms of intuition and nuance and can be easy to ignore. Be courageous enough to listen to your own inner knowledge. 

  • Have compassion for yourself and keep things simple. Until you are certain once again, don’t put pressure on yourself to make big decisions or changes in your life. If you are uncertain about who is going to love you then start by loving yourself! If you are uncertain about whether you will find a job, keep looking! If you don’t know what makes you happy then start with what makes you feel good!

  • Know that this is all a natural and important part in the expression of your full potential and don’t panic!
I hope this reassures you and that maybe, just maybe, you even make a new friend ;-)