Don’t Try to Get Rid of Confusion

Early in Genpo Roshi’s new book, The Fool Who Thought He Was God, the unnamed narrator is stunned to learn that his long-lost twin brother Sebastian is not only living near him in a town in Maine at the other end of the country from where they grew up, but has committed himself to a mental institution there, and believes he is God.  From the moment they are reunited it becomes questionable which is the more sane of the two brothers.  The narrator, who is now seriously confused by the whole situation, asks Sebastian how to cope with this confusion.  Sebastian replies:

Confusion is only a problem because you don’t like confusion. If you didn’t hate confusion it wouldn’t be a problem for you.

But I don’t like being confused. Who does?

That is your problem. You need not try to get rid of confusion nor seek after clarity.

What are you talking about? I prefer clarity to confusion, who wouldn’t?

It is your preference for clarity over confusion that keeps you bound or tied up without so much as a rope.

So what should I do?

Ask to speak to confusion and ask confusion what it wants from you. Treat confusion with respect and appreciate it as you would one of your children. Love and honor it, and confusion will function for you in a very profound way you would never have expected.

What? That sounds insane!


I guess I forgot I’m talking to— a guy who thinks he is God.

I don’t think so; I am!

OK, please go on.

Confusion might answer something like this: I feel I am unwelcome, and that makes me feel bad and wrong. I have a lot to offer you and yet I don’t feel appreciated and recognized. What I would like is to be honored, loved and empowered.

I don’t get it. Why would I want to empower confusion? It’s bad enough that confusion already has so much power to mess up my head.

You need to be courageous, like a warrior. Take a chance, maybe find out by asking confusion what it could offer your life if you acknowledged and empowered it. It might say something like this: As confusion fully owned, embodied and empowered, I would offer liberation and freedom from suffering.

This is crazy! I’m not doing this, no way.

I said you need to be courageous, take a risk, go for it. What do you have to lose? You may discover that confusion when empowered actually transforms into clarity. When you no longer resist confusion you can completely relax and be yourself. Your true self, not your pretend or fake self, always trying to look so clear and knowledgeable, like you know and understand everything. You can be free from worrying that you will look like a fool or worse, stupid. Confusion is your ticket to liberation. This is true for so many aspects of yourself that you dislike and keep making wrong and bad.

Read more about The Fool Who Thought He Was God

3 thoughts on “Don’t Try to Get Rid of Confusion”

  1. So good to wake up to this email this morning in the midst of my own confusion. Reading the excerpt from the book my anxiety fell away like honey dribbling outside the jar……

  2. Genpo, I studied with you in 2010 in SLC. I’d gotten behind on Voice Dialoguing. Yet, 2 days ago when I was prompted to ask my toxic inner voice why it tears at me so, it gave me a voice dialoguing answer, and in being listened to, it assumed the role of mentor. A gift from you, surely.

    I’ll get this book. Many, many thanks for sharing a story I needed to read today.


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