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Content Any Way U Want It!

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Content Any Way U Want It!

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September 29, 2023

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What do you think you know?

If you’re like most of us, you occasionally did something and later thought you did it because you didn’t know any better. Some of the things we do put us in chains. As the Eagles said: “So often in time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”

There is an old story of a farmer whose horse ran away, and his neighbor came to him and said “Oh you poor man, your horse ran away.” The farmer said “Maybe so.” The next day the horse came back with another horse and the neighbor said “You are lucky; you now have another horse.” And the farmer said “Maybe so.” The next day a farmer’s son fell off the horse and broke his leg. The neighbor said “Oh you poor man, your son broke his leg.” And the farmer said “Maybe so.” The next day, recruiters for the Army came around to take the boy into the Army for an upcoming battle. The neighbor came over and said “Oh you lucky person, your son broke his leg and he will not now have to go into the army and fight in the war. The farmer said “Maybe so.”

The farmer seems to agree with John Keats who said “The only means of strengthening one’s intellect is to make up one’s mind about nothing – to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts.” It is possible there are as many kinds of knowing as there are knowledgeable people. I don’t know whether one needs to be well versed in ordinary knowing before tentative knowing operates.

What kind of knowing does it take for an unknown sage to say “All the delightful things of the world – sweet sounds, lovely forms, all the pleasant tastes and touches and thoughts – these are all agreed to bring happiness if they are not grasped and possessed. But if you regard them merely as pleasures for your own use and satisfaction and do not see them as passing wonders, they will bring suffering.”

We all know what temporary means until we are asked to define it. I am not asking you to define temporary but I ask: What is not a passing wonder? One’s knowing anything may be a passing wonder. There are many ways to knowing. Are other kinds of knowing other ways to live? Some sages have held that there are many ways to the way. As Lao Tzu said “The way that can be said is not the way.” Mohandas Gandhi said “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” As Robert Fulghum remarked “Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away.”

Is there a different intelligence for other kinds of knowing? David Caruso said “It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head – it is the unique intersection of both.” Each of us intersects differently and in that sense, we each know differently and have different passing wonders.

So when wanting to know, as John Lubbock says “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” Ancient and contemporary wise women and men have said that which we are looking for is that which is looking. I didn’t know any better when I looked for great things to do for others and myself while not seeing that numerous small opportunities to help others and myself continually surrounded me. Might they surround you also? I didn’t know any better when I did not see that helping others was helping myself.

One of the better insights I stumbled upon was realizing that, at times, I think I know when I don’t. Knowing that I don’t know has been very helpful for me and the uncertainty that accompanies knowing that I don’t know is something that one can get used to in a calming and peaceful way when one is patient.

One thing I have not yet learned is to be patient about becoming patient. Perhaps there is no way to patience. Patience is the way. A wise person said “Infinite patience brings immediate rewards.” What do you think? Notice your reaction to what you think. Please continue noticing what comes to your mind.

Conrad Pritscher is a professor emeritus. Send responses to his column to [email protected].

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