Biggest certainties in life – 7 common answers from complete strangers

This week, I asked strangers two opposing questions regarding their certainties. Initially, I asked, “What are you most certain about?” followed by, “What are you least sure of?”

Despite their apparent opposition, these questions share a fundamental similarity. This became clear through the subtle differences in the responses I received to both questions from the same person. The answers to my first question often provided a reliable indicator of how individuals would respond to my second question.

Certainty 1: Death


To these two girls, it’s about appreciating every moment for what it is. #mindfulness #hereandnow #lifelessons

♬ A Gentle Sunlight – James Quinn

Do you agree with her? Watch till the end to hear a beautiful Chinese saying! #lifeadvice #lifelessons #contemplatelife #existence

♬ original sound – Youri Hermes

Who dies exactly: you, me, we, it? Who or what is that? Are you referring to your body, mind, and soul? Is this unique package your innermost essence? Can you be something finite? Can you regard the concept of being a temporary phenomenon as a temporary phenomenon itself?

Apart from the self, what does death involve? Does it signify the end of everything or it the beginning of it all? Is it neither or perhaps both simultaneously? I believe delving into this is worthwhile. It might reveal that the concepts surrounding ‘death’ and the ‘self’ are merely self-perpetuating. However, these narratives seem to unravel upon closer examination.

Certainty 2: Impermanence


According to this Christian from Myanmar, nothing in life is permanent. #peace #peaceful #christian #buddhism

♬ Change – Piano

Everything is constantly changing, so how could ‘impermanence’ not be a certainty? However, this conclusion would also change. Otherwise, it contradicts itself, making it an oxymoron. Can any conclusion ever come close to the truth of life’s mystery? If ‘everything is impermanent’ becomes a static belief, have you invited falsehood in your life? Can one truly live based on a set of lies? Some might manage, but could you genuinely call that living?

Certainty 3: Family

Family (or friends) was the most common answer I received to my question. Certainty is often associated with stability, which makes sense. Apparently, family is the main stable factor for many people. When I asked family-oriented individuals about their uncertainties, I received answers such as health or job-related concerns.

From the interviewer’s perspective with a passion for contemplation, it’s tempting to provoke deeper answers. But from a nondual standpoint, there is no such thing as a reply on a superficial or deeper level. That’s just a duality. Family as a reply is a valid answer, just like anything else. In fact, precisely because it’s a common answer confirms the validity even more.

Certainty 4: Memories


His biggest certainty in life comes down to what makes him the most happy in life. #happiness #girlfriend #certainty #lifelessons

♬ A Gentle Sunlight – James Quinn

What is a memory? Can we consider it as stored information about past experiences? How can this information exist? Can it exist independently, or does it require some sort of storage? If it indeed requires space, what is more certain: the information or its container? You might wonder: isn’t the container in which information unfolds also information in itself? By container, I’m referring to consciousness, awareness, or emptiness. But perhaps this doesn’t clarify matters further. It simply assigns a label to that which goes beyond any description. I suppose naming things contributes to the sense of certainty.

Anyway, can the infinite space of consciousness be the actual certainty in life? Moreover, it’s the true container for memories and everything else, right? I think it’s dangerous to just assume this too quickly. Your certainty just moves from a mainstream idea (seeking it in the form) to a more unconventional idea (finding it in the formless). Would that satisfy you? If not for some reason, don’t even bother.

Certainty 5: Inner world

We talked about memories, but our inner world is much broader than just that. Inside us, there are countless things happening that we might not even realize. When we look at it from a psychological perspective, we can see there are many different aspects to it. When we don’t get psychological at all, what remains? Does everything ultimately come down to ‘something inside us’, whatever that may be? Simplifying things to their core facilitates our exploration a tiny bit. We still have plenty of contrasts left anyway, like the most obvious one: the internal versus the external.

Let’s consider the inner world, containing aspects that cannot be observed externally. One person I interviewed stated that her inner world is a certainty, while the outer world remains her primary uncertainty. This notion reminded me of Covey’s popular ‘circle of influence’ model, which addresses areas of control, influence, and concern. Some individuals may regard their immediate environment as certain, while others perceive nearly everything as uncertain. I find it intriguing how we tend to distinguish between what we perceive as certain and uncertain. Have you ever questioned why we engage in this distinction? Why do we complicate life to the extent that it creates significant internal conflicts?

Certainty 6: Everything


MOST people are uncertain about the future. She is like the exact opposite: NOTHING is uncertain to her. How about you? #lifelessons #lifeadvice #contemplatelife #certainty #planning

♬ original sound – Youri Hermes

One thing is certain: every distinction you make, like the circle of influence in the preceding certainty, is merely based on a thought. A thought cannot be certain due to its transitory nature, correct? If we don’t create thoughts by drawing distinctions, what do we encounter? Life experiences can vary significantly among individuals. However, can we recognise that the act of experiencing itself remains unchanged?

You may firmly believe that you are ultimately in control of almost everything. Conversely, you might hold the belief that nothing can be controlled. In the latter scenario, nothing is truly certain. This holds true as long as there is no external interference. Over time, if this belief persists, it solidifies into truth. At that moment, a belief is born. Does this belief hinder your ability to remain true to yourself? I believe that depends on how you define yourself. Can a disturbance disrupt another related disturbance known as ‘yourself’?

Certainty 7: Uncertain future

How can one be completely certain about the future? If total certainty is unattainable, partial certainty is likewise impossible. Partial certainties rely on specific beliefs, which are not static but subject to constant change. Understanding this, one realises they cannot be used to draw conclusions with 100% certainty. If something lacks complete certainty, it cannot be considered a fact. So, can predictions about the future ever be factual? If the answer is evidently ‘no,’ one paradoxically transforms uncertainty about the future into a fact.

Is it possible to maintain a nondual perspective? Why would it be necessary to state that the future is most definitely uncertain? If that would have been the case, the past could also be considered as uncertain. Yet, we believe that the past is mostly certain and the future isn’t. This is dual thinking in its purest form.

When I posed the question about the greatest certainty, I received the response ‘uncertainty.’ Could this be yet another attempt to find certainty within uncertainty? Is this merely a belief or a profound understanding? If the latter, how can one discover it? Can certainty ever be truly found? I’m not suggesting it’s unattainable, but perhaps we should avoid assuming things prematurely in pursuit of certainty.

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Every Sunday, I’m publishing a new article (click here go to the article overview) in which I share a little analysis on the short interviews I did.