皮寇 萊爾: 未知的美麗



One hot October morning , I got off the all-night train in Mandalay , the old royal capital of Burma , now Myanmar .
And out on the street , I ran into a group of rough men standing beside their bicycle rickshaws .
And one of them came up and offered to show me around .
The price he quoted was outrageous .
It was less than I would pay for a bar of chocolate at home .


So I clambered into his trishaw , and he began pedaling us slowly between palaces and pagodas .
And as he did , he told me how he had come to the city from his village .
He 'd earned a degree in mathematics .
His dream was to be a teacher .
But of course , life is hard under a military dictatorship , and so for now , this was the only way he could make a living .
Many nights , he told me , he actually slept in his trishaw so he could catch the first visitors off the all-night train .


And very soon , we found that in certain ways , we had so much in common -- we were both in our 20s , we were both fascinated by foreign cultures -- that he invited me home .


So we turned off the wide , crowded streets , and we began bumping down rough , wild alleyways .
There were broken shacks all around .
I really lost the sense of where I was , and I realized that anything could happen to me now .
I could get mugged or drugged or something worse .
Nobody would know .


Finally , he stopped and led me into a hut , which consisted of just one tiny room .
And then he leaned down , and reached under his bed .
And something in me froze .
I waited to see what he would pull out .
And finally he extracted a box .
Inside it was every single letter he had ever received from visitors from abroad , and on some of them he had pasted little black-and-white worn snapshots of his new foreign friends .


So when we said goodbye that night , I realized he had also shown me the secret point of travel , which is to take a plunge , to go inwardly as well as outwardly to places you would never go otherwise , to venture into uncertainty , ambiguity , even fear .


At home , it 's dangerously easy to assume we 're on top of things .
Out in the world , you are reminded every moment that you 're not , and you ca n't get to the bottom of things , either .


Everywhere , `` People wish to be settled , '' Ralph Waldo Emerson reminded us , `` but only insofar as we are unsettled is there any hope for us . ''


At this conference , we 've been lucky enough to hear some exhilarating new ideas and discoveries and , really , about all the ways in which knowledge is being pushed excitingly forwards .
But at some point , knowledge gives out .
And that is the moment when your life is truly decided : you fall in love ; you lose a friend ; the lights go out .
And it 's then , when you 're lost or uneasy or carried out of yourself , that you find out who you are .


I do n't believe that ignorance is bliss .
Science has unquestionably made our lives brighter and longer and healthier .
And I am forever grateful to the teachers who showed me the laws of physics and pointed out that three times three makes nine .
I can count that out on my fingers any time of night or day .
But when a mathematician tells me that minus three times minus three makes nine , that 's a kind of logic that almost feels like trust .


The opposite of knowledge , in other words , is n't always ignorance .
It can be wonder .
Or mystery .
Possibility .
And in my life , I 've found it 's the things I do n't know that have lifted me up and pushed me forwards much more than the things I do know .
It 's also the things I do n't know that have often brought me closer to everybody around me .


For eight straight Novembers , recently , I traveled every year across Japan with the Dalai Lama .
And the one thing he said every day that most seemed to give people reassurance and confidence was , `` I do n't know . ''


`` What 's going to happen to Tibet ? '' `` When are we ever going to get world peace ? '' `` What 's the best way to raise children ? ''


`` Frankly , '' says this very wise man , `` I do n't know . ''


The Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman has spent more than 60 years now researching human behavior , and his conclusion is that we are always much more confident of what we think we know than we should be .
We have , as he memorably puts it , an `` unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance . '' We know -- quote , unquote -- our team is going to win this weekend , and we only remember that knowledge on the rare occasions when we 're right .
Most of the time , we 're in the dark .
And that 's where real intimacy lies .


Do you know what your lover is going to do tomorrow ?
Do you want to know ?


The parents of us all , as some people call them , Adam and Eve , could never die , so long as they were eating from the tree of life .
But the minute they began nibbling from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil , they fell from their innocence .
They grew embarrassed and fretful , self-conscious .
And they learned , a little too late , perhaps , that there are certainly some things that we need to know , but there are many , many more that are better left unexplored .


Now , when I was a kid , I knew it all , of course .
I had been spending 20 years in classrooms collecting facts , and I was actually in the information business , writing articles for Time Magazine .
And I took my first real trip to Japan for two-and-a-half weeks , and I came back with a 40-page essay explaining every last detail about Japan 's temples , its fashions , its baseball games , its soul .


But underneath all that , something that I could n't understand so moved me for reasons I could n't explain to you yet , that I decided to go and live in Japan .
And now that I 've been there for 28 years , I really could n't tell you very much at all about my adopted home .
Which is wonderful , because it means every day I 'm making some new discovery , and in the process , looking around the corner and seeing the hundred thousand things I 'll never know .


Knowledge is a priceless gift .
But the illusion of knowledge can be more dangerous than ignorance .


Thinking that you know your lover or your enemy can be more treacherous than acknowledging you 'll never know them .
Every morning in Japan , as the sun is flooding into our little apartment , I take great pains not to consult the weather forecast , because if I do , my mind will be overclouded , distracted , even when the day is bright .


I 've been a full-time writer now for 34 years .
And the one thing that I have learned is that transformation comes when I 'm not in charge , when I do n't know what 's coming next , when I ca n't assume I am bigger than everything around me .
And the same is true in love or in moments of crisis .
Suddenly , we 're back in that trishaw again and we 're bumping off the broad , well-lit streets ; and we 're reminded , really , of the first law of travel and , therefore , of life : you 're only as strong as your readiness to surrender .


In the end , perhaps , being human is much more important than being fully in the know .


Thank you .


( Applause )