Learning vs. Knowing

Knowing is less important than learning. Remaining open and always being curious. It is the curiosity itself, the willingness to be open, the increasing capacity to learn which is liberating. The willingness to be open takes love because it requires us to constantly unattach ourselves from what we have learned. As human beings, we crave identity and validation, which knowledge provides. Knowledge thus liberates and simultaneously binds us as we become captive to it for our sense of self worth.

The delicate balance lies in learning to learn without attachment – in loving ourselves so much that we need no external input to validate who we are. This involves both an open love towards ourselves and a curious love about the world around us. Less about knowing more and more about becoming better, more open learners; becoming more receptive to life itself.

The Wholeness of Being

When we become dependent on external factors for how we feel about ourselves (what we do, who we’re with, what we have), our energy shifts. The difference can be subtle (or not) but profound. It is the difference between being an energetic giver or an energetic taker. As long as we are looking for something outside ourselves for how we feel about ourselves, we are taking energy from a situation. Our intention may be well meaning, but the awareness of our full intention is lacking.

By becoming firmly established in our being, we are able to participate in the world without selfish motive. We are able to engage others with genuinely pure motive because we are not looking for them to contribute to our sense of self worth in some capacity.

This is difficult to understand and see. To observe it we must deeply examine our motivations for why we do what we do to recognize that we are most likely looking for some form of emotional validation in most of our actions. Once we can clearly identify that energy, we can examine why that validation is important to us. Can we find that satisfaction, that wholeness of being, without the external stimulus? This wholeness is a function of our being – it is our birth right. It is present in every moment, we just need to become aware of it.

Being affects our very relationship with time and space, both of which we often use in pursuit of some form of validation. If we can become aware of this self perceived lack we can begin to engage in each moment as a whole being. Not looking for the moment to satisfy some expectation, but rather experiencing the fullness of the experience itself. This is the wonder of life, the miracle of every moment.

Observations of my finger

This last Burning Man I sliced my finger deeply and had to get eight stitches. Interesting enough, cutting my finger has turned out to be a “deeply” rewarding lesson…

I have observed that the human finger is made up of many layers and that each progressive layer, as you go deeper, is more sensitive. As the finger heals, part of the healing involved is the gradual reduction of sensitivity. In fact, at some point the finger looks almost entirely healed but is still much more sensitive than the other fingers. It continues to lose sensitivity as part of the healing process as the skin thickens to protect against the environment.

I am struck by the likely similarity to human beings in general. We are all so sensitive. Our hearts are so tender. But we have so many layers of armor. Healing, for many people today, is a process of reducing sensitivity because the outside world is so harsh. It’s hard to be exposed because it would be too much for our sensitive hearts. And so, our natural survival mechanism is to develop a thick skin. Much like the skin on our fingers we can’t really shed that skin but we can train our skin to be more sensitive.

A few months ago a friend of mine was teaching me how to sharpen a knife using a stone. He had his fancy Japanese blades and was showing me how you shave one side of the blade against the stone and then at some point this produces an overhang. Then you flip the blade, shave off the overhang and you’re done. You can’t actually see the overhang, you have to feel it because it’s so fine. He could feel it easily. I couldn’t feel it at all. We tried over and over, and I maybe barely felt it at the end. Maybe not.

My take away at the time was that that was a practiced sensitivity. With practice I could train myself to feel that overhang with my finger just like him. Maybe if I tried sharpening that blade right now with my healing finger I could be more sensitive to the overhang. I could certainly learn how to feel it with my regular fingers with enough practice.

My point is that emotional sensitivity is much the same. The way we are with other people, the way we perceive the world, the way we are with ourselves. We have so many layers to work through, but the sensory input is there. We just have to cultivate a sensitivity. Hopefully without having to slice ourselves in half.