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On Knowing

Submitted by God on Sun, 01/17/2010 - 14:14

MY LAST POST ELICITED a comment from a reader, ojones01, which was particularly insightful:

One of the ideas I struggle with the most is the thought that I "know." And in my "knowing," I am cut off from the reality around me, because I can see only what I know. No amount of evidence, arguing or persuasion can cause me to see anything else, because I know. It is so easy for me to fall into this trap, and my brain shuts down completely -- No need to think, no need to listen, no need to hear, no need, no need, no need....because I know. WOW! Do you hear the arrogance in that? That is not what I want, because that arrogant "knowing" keeps me from knowing you. Because I know, and what more could there possibly be to you than what I know?

And so, I am confessing to you today that I am addicted to knowing -- or more hopefully -- I am a recovering "knower". I am working on a new mindset, and some new skills that will help me give up my addiction, and it's hard. It's hard because I've spent my whole life learning how to be "knower". And now I'm learning how to become a learner.

I like this quote from Sir Francis Bacon, "If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and are patient in them, we shall end in certainties.”

Well, Waddayaknow?

Nicely put, and very true.

The ongoing atheism vs. theism debate in your tiny corner (no disrespect intended—I'm just being honest) of this particular space-time continuum is often construed, by both sides, as a debate about me.

About whether I, or some construct of culture and tradition which poses as me, actually exists.

It isn't.

It's a debate about human knowing, and how human knowing works.

It's a debate about the proper stance toward reality.

Is that stance humility and curiosity, or arrogance and dogmatism?

Do you know as you have been told (by authority figures), or do you know as your unfolding relationship with the universe (and, thus, with me) has taught you?

If it's the first, then you have a great deal of control over your own "knowledge".

  1. You may ascribe your belief to an authority, but you get to decide which authorities you will believe.
  2. And, let's be honest, you get to decide how to interpret that authority—and so, ultimately, you get to believe exactly whatever you want to believe.

Heady stuff.

If it's the second, you trade off most of that control.

  1. You only get to believe what experience teaches (the primitive enterprise you call "science" is nothing more than a sophisticated way to generate, sort through, and share significant experiences).
  2. You hardly ever get to be 100% certain of anything.
  3. You only get to know what the universe (and, thus, I) allows you to find out.
  4. So you don't get to believe whatever you want.

It's a difficult road, compared to the first, and requires a great deal of humility, patience, and honesty with oneself.

But if you really want to know me, which method would you choose?

You might want to start small when answering that question:

Which method would you use to really get to know another human —a friend or a child or a spouse?

Which method would you like them to choose in order to get to know you?

Keep those questions and comments coming.

Best wishes,

The Ground of All Being