A good mixture of knowledge and ignorance

Monday August 15, 2016

4:55 a.m. I have forgotten where we were and where we were going. I’m hoping somebody else remembers.

Be comforted by this thought: In your being able to continue without a specific goal or a specific route is your freedom to listen, to be guided. Keep remembering the simple truism that you cannot explore by following maps that have not yet been constructed.

Yet it is also true that such maps exist, I gather. Charles Sides tells me he keeps finding parallels with Buddhist thought, for instance.

This is true and not quite true. The maps exist, but if you do not know of them, it is unknown territory to you as you explore. The maps exist, but if you have read and forgotten, or read and half-remembered, orientation at second- or third-hand (from those whose orientation was derived from previous mapmakers), you may find it easier to move in certain directions than if you had never been exposed to such echoes. The maps exist, but perhaps the territory has changed; perhaps it has changed relative to the species using them; perhaps the species has changed, or is changing, and the relationship between map and terrain is changed, necessitating new approaches to things once well understood.

So, for your purposes, a proper mixture of knowledge and ignorance serves very well.

Just as well if it does! There is never anything other than a mixture of knowledge and ignorance. How could there be? Much more important is willingness.

I understand. Well, I’m willing, and so are various friends doing their bit as they are so moved. Onward?

Flow, not structure. Yourselves – ourselves – as bubbles in oil, or as potatoes finding their own level in water, name your own analogy, choose your own image. Your will, your continued intent, as your expression of who and what you are. Illness and sin and misfortune as important modifying factors or, let us say, as indicators as well as motivators.

To understand life on earth as it appears, it is necessary to take your eyes off earth per se and focus on the only thing you really know (however inadequately) which is –?


Yourselves, correct. It is the only subject of which you have what you might call inside knowledge. Everything else is seen from outside. And yet, shift the knob of the microscope and you see that this is not true at all, neither half of it. You don’t know yourselves from inside; you don’t know the world (the “other”) from the outside. There is no inside, no outside, so how can they bound your perceptions?

As so often at the beginning of something, this sounds like merely playing with words.

You’ll find that is true enough in general. Any new view may at first seem misunderstanding, or willful misstatement, or deliberate nonsense. Patience with another’s exposition pays rewards sometimes.

So what do we mean?

Clearly “inside” and “outside” are spatial references that cannot be literally appropriate beyond the 3D world – no, nor within it, either, if you consider that dimensions are abstractions and structures are – let’s call them persistent illusions. They are useful concepts; that doesn’t make them absolutely true, nor does it remove the misleading aspects they may suggest.

What does seeing yourself from the inside mean, but that you have a habitual fixed point of reference (or point of view, call it), that orients your experience? What does seeing the rest of the world from the outside mean, but that your fixed reference point assumes separation and division? Both statements true but not necessarily true; true only so long as you consent for them to be so. Hence, “all is one” as a useful reorienting concept – when approached with the proper understanding. But without that understanding, only a pious wish or an incomprehensible abstraction.

All right, I’m getting it. You are saying, there’s only one of us, and so we truly are tightly bound together, sink or swim.

To use a phrase you’ll find familiar – yes, but no. Don’t draw lines too heavily; they show through even after being erased. So, your statement seems to you to agree that “all is one,” yet in saying “sink or swim” you allow division to sneak in the back door again. For you – we – are the water, no less than the swimmers.

It seems to be beyond me to really grasp what you’re saying. I can get it as a concept, and agree with it, but when I come to express it myself – to apply it, say – I find I haven’t gotten it, or it has slipped through my fingers.

You won’t be the only one having the difficulty (which may be encouragement for some). Consider: If it were easy to really get across, wouldn’t it be common understanding after so many thousand years? And if the expressions of it that have been made, and preserved, and listened to, and followed, and preached, were able to assure proper understanding, would not these traditions have peacefully conquered the world long ago? Would not certain practitioners obviously have the truth? So obviously that it would be beyond dispute?

I have often suspected as much of Buddhism – particularly as I consider the Dalai Lama as exemplar, but for some reason I hold back from seriously exploring that path. For all I know, it has all we need to know.

If it had all you – we – need, it would be the final word, and there is no final word. What it comprises is a way, a path, an attitude that will orient a given individual. But there is a reason the Buddha was not a Buddhist. To a degree, following another’s true path can never be “the path.” Even if in Buddhism you can find everything you need, the very fact that it is a pre-cut gem makes it inappropriate for some. The very features that make a religion useful and right for followers make it harmful or useless, and wrong, for those who are by nature outliers.

Since human nature cannot be changed to produce all followers and no lone wolves, no “way” designed for followers can ever be right for everyone. And if it were to be the case that every one could follow the same path, what a dearth of experience, what an impoverishment of opportunity, would follow!

Those who rail against religion are railing against the facts of life. That is, each of us (considered as individuals) has a certain level of development that is our starting point in that life. This starting-point cannot be altered, nor wished away, nor disregarded. What is appropriate to one level is wildly inappropriate to another level. Religion is specifically the attempt to express certain truths in a way that may be understood by those at many different levels.

Which may be done the Catholic way, relying upon ritual and dogma to communicate with all levels at once rather than attempt to do it through reason and logic, or the Protestant way, relying upon reason and logic and thereupon, in effect, repeatedly splintering denominations so that each level of understanding will have a community to fit.

Roughly, yes. But how would you consider Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims, to say nothing of less extensive or less organized religions? Do they not do both?

Are they not more or less like the Catholics, only riven by internal divisions?

Touché. At any rate, religions serve a unifying social function, a link between “individuals as part of a community” and “individuals in relation to the non-3D.”

“Science” being one of those religions, in that sense.

Touché again. Science, materialism, many other abstractions that serve to unify people in the face of the gods they don’t necessarily believe in. This is particularly ironic in that they are attempting to unify what was never sundered, save in their own minds, but that’s life.

So, our take-away from this morning’s conversation?

This has been one of those reorienting conversations that seem worthwhile from time to time. Sometimes we push boundaries, sometimes we rally the troops (or, if you prefer, we gather the laggards and tighten the flanks to assure that our herd remains within earshot of itself).

Some day I’m going to make a list of the unflattering comparisons we poor humans have been at the receiving end of.

Much good that will do you, since you are on both ends! Till next time, then.

Till next time. Our thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.