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Part 1: ‘Surrender to the Mystery: On knowing and the Power of Not-Knowing’
A World of Perspective
Part 2 of ‘Surrender to the Mystery: On Knowing and the Power of Not-Knowing’
Communication can be challenging.
Most of our communication is non-verbal. When we share, it is not just the ideas we speak that we are conveying, but also the emotions and past experiences that inform them. Yet, so often, folk will immediately fasten onto the words and not receive all that comes with them, which would make the words so much more understandable if the rest was received.
At the best of times, it can be challenging for even two people to reach a meeting of minds and hearts.
We have all had the experience of saying something we thought totally obvious, only to find ourselves thoroughly misunderstood. Or of saying one thing, only to discover that our listener heard another.
These experiences are mere symptoms of the fact that, though we may speak the same language, people are always interpreting one another through the context of their own life experience, preconceptions and projections.
This is why communication is so often a process and so rarely an instantaneous thing.
We Are Tiny Points of Perspective
As finite human beings, we are confined to experience the world from our own tiny point of perspective. There is always an infinite number of things that have occurred that fall outside our capacity to perceive. There is always an infinite number of things that we don’t know.
Nevertheless, mostly unconsciously, we make a lot of assumptions about how generally applicable our own perspective is. So, before imposing our view of the world on another, it is always good to remember that the context of our own experience is totally unique.
We may guess, assume, or otherwise attempt to imagine ourselves into the moments we were not present to experience, but it is impossible to actually know the full truth of experiences occurring to and between others, despite what we may sense about them.
This creates a perceptual divide between people.
This perceptual gap is present in each moment, but it can be subtle, as there is a socially conditioned consensus experience that provides a common frame of reference, but it is very real and requires some skill and care to bridge. Nevertheless successful communication requires that we do so.
As a storyteller, I tend to think of a person’s perspective as a dimensional co-ordinate, which defines the realm of reality and awareness that they inhabit, as they act out their part in the greater play of life.
Even though our stories overlap, each person’s experience is so unique that we can all be said to inhabit our own dimension of experience. What has been experienced by one may, at times, be totally unimaginable to another.
We are worlds unto ourselves.
We are each the hero of our own adventure and, as others come into our lives to occupy one role or another they become a player in our dramas. At the same time, we become one in theirs.
Yet they are living out a whole different story to us. Everything that happened before we each entered the other’s story will be different for each and the context and relevance of the scenes we share are likewise different and unique to each, because the same scene has different places in each story.
For that reason, I would suspect that everyone will have experienced some sense of this perceptual divide. We will all remember times when our words, and/or the meaning and experience behind them, have been misinterpreted or lost by the other.
For me this divide is always particularly obvious, as my experience and perspective is so far out that the gulf stretches out a bit wider for me than it does for most.
It is why I tend to avoid discussing anything close to my heart, or that I know a lot about.
It’s not that I am in any way ashamed of what I believe, or fearful of debate; just the opposite. I’ve spent a huge amount of time and effort to arrive at my perspective and I enjoy sharing my experience, if it can be received.
I’m also very ready to receive the perspective of another, whether it resonates with me or not, as I enjoy widening my own view of life and getting insight into what it is for others.
It is precisely because I have lived very uniquely, and given much more thought to my beliefs than most, that I avoid discussing them, as the gulf in perception often feels unbridgeable.
Unfortunately, many people are only too ready to judge, or dismiss me, from a place of ignorance and there is rarely time, space, or desire to reach a true meeting of minds and hearts.
I feel that what is important in life is the quality of our experience in each moment.
I would much rather find a place to connect with another, than argue about things that almost never matter.
I would rather have a good experience with someone than try and convince them to see the world in the way I do, or have to refuse to see it the way they do.
I would rather meet in a place of connection than disconnection.
I’ve also learned that, without having learned what I have, it is impossible to bridge that gap through the mind (as most people seem to prefer.) Many important subjects, like the nature of our reality, or the existence of God, or the subject of Ethics, etc. require a lot of space to discuss and explore.
That takes real time and a hunger to understand. Few people are willing to go there but, without having made the attempt, many will condemn me as ‘wrong’ when I express an alternative perspective, because they are affirmed in their own by the fact that it is shared by others.
My challenge is that the further I have departed from consensus reality and entered into the realms of my own unique beingness, the harder it is for others to imagine that my most precious and formative experiences could be true.
This wouldn’t bother me if we could all just appreciate and enjoy the differences in perspective.
Beliefs are a Safety Net
Unfortunately, many people form the bedrock of their sense of self, position and safety, on their beliefs. To challenge their beliefs is often felt as a challenge to their way of being, which can trigger various dissonant reactions.
We construct our stories about life from the time we enter this world and start attempting to understand our experience. Very often, to accept something as true that doesn’t fit into our existing story of reality requires that we amend our own story, or let it go entirely.
That can be incredibly threatening to our entire sense of self and to our confidence that we know how to navigate life.
Few people can easily relinquish their stories, though it is an excellent trait to be able to acquire. It is only through the evolution of our stories that we can evolve the experience of our own.
I find the modern notion of academic debate quite strange as it is predicated on the idea that one perspective is right, the other wrong.
Most often there is truth within different perspectives. I believe it is a much more useful art to seek synthesis and become able to reconcile each limited picture into a greater one, able to hold the truth of each.
It is not agreement that is helpful to us, but truth and the truth is that there is always more to discover, more to learn, more healthy growth available to us. The more we acquire discernment and the ability to absorb what it known to others, the more we may expand the boundaries of what is possible to us.
If one can let go of the need to be right, then disagreement can become a fun adventure into a process of discovery, as you seek to see what the other sees, expanding your own view of Life.
If we seek to do this, we will almost certainly find some truth in what the other is trying to express, perhaps hidden behind distortions in language and energy, or the veils of our own triggers and projections, but there nonetheless.
If we aren’t attached to the words uttered and seek the deeper experience and understanding that the other is attempting to convey, it is often quite easy to see where we can agree.
In my experience, it’s at least as easy as finding a place to disagree.
This essay continues in PART 3: ‘The Root of Wisdom‘