Mistaken Certainty

Update 28th May: The original map published last evening has been replaced with this one. So anybody who rushed to download yesterdays map with a view to following the marked trail….please delete and use this one. Can’t be too careful about following the official footpaths, although it is not always so easy to know where they are. I speak from experience!
wellhope walk
It all makes perfect sense, now! Here is a map of the ‘Well Hope’ walk which I, along with a trusty walking companion, did yesterday. More than three hours walking but we were not rushing.

About a month or more ago I attempted this walk alone. Although armed with this map I lost my way, ending up in the next valley over from the one I’d intended to walk down. It was a bit of a shock to round a hill to find I wasn’t looking at our familiar valley with the monastery reasuringly nestled on the opposite hillside, as in the photograph below. To be honest I have been reluctant to try the walk again and reticent to mention this fact. So I was glad of the company and especially glad to  be helped with the correct usage of the words reticent and reluctant! What little gems they are too. And what are good Dharma Friends for if not to pass on the gems of their knowledge and understanding.

Throssel Hole Abbey is picked out in sunshine. Look for Myrtle Bank on the OS map.
Throssel Hole Abbey is picked out in sunshine. Look for Myrtle Bank on the OS map.

Certainty is a dangerous beast to be sure. In terms of my failed attempt at the Well Hope walk I was convinced I was on the correct path! Truth was I wasn’t on a path at all! I remember thinking, I’m not lost I just don’t know where I am in relationship to everywhere else! That’s mistaken certainty, with an extra helping of delusion thrown in.

Oh and I’ve thought myself to be reticent about doing  things when in fact I was reluctant! Now thinking about it certainty, knowing you are right, isn’t the issue. It’s ignorance isn’t it? Only when proved to be wrong, wrong valley and wrong word use, does the habit of certainty even come up as an issue. If you are right, then you are RIGHT and why would one question that.

So I think of Buddhist practice, meditation, being about shining light on ignorance. That’s the ‘not knowing’ form of ignorance and also the ‘ignore-ance’ form. Humbling thought. Yes, and sometimes, depending on ones personality and make up, it is important to retain the thought ‘I could be right‘, self-doubt being the default for many people.

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6 thoughts on “Mistaken Certainty”

  1. ‘I’m not lost I just don’t know where I am in relationship to everywhere else.’ I should have had the t-shirt ! It’s a one to keep an eye on indeed.
    Please don’t go walking alone in that terrain.It’s always wise to have a companion.(Not the place to twist an ankle or have any other mishap). The weather conditions can change very dramatically up there. But where else to experience ‘The sound of the valley,the colour of the mountain’.
    In gassho.

    1. Thanks for your kind advice Ian. I will indeed think twice before walking alone in remote spots. I do actually always take my cell phone with me and on top of the moors there’s a better mobile reception than in some more populated places. All the same, point well taken. Even in company I’m acutely aware of the likely consequences of falling or twisting something. I always go with clothing enough for snow! Even in May.

  2. Ah yes… the balance between believing I know enough whilst holding some doubt and falling off either side into self-doubt one way or unfounded certainty the other… always a challenge for me!

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