Friday, March 16, 2012

Knowing Versus Understanding


I sometimes have a intolerance for intolerant people, and my issues are utterly clear to me in their irony. I have realized, recently, that I cannot push people to where they are not, or make them see things how they cannot (yet). And, I must understand that for every level of understanding I have, there is still much “knowing” to unlearn as I grow in my own faith.

Something about casting stones is resonating in my mind.

So, whether more obvious or more subtle, we are all working our way from places of “knowing” to “understanding”–and my intolerance for intolerance is one of my big ones. Also my impatience for results, in my life or others, is a really big one.

It is funny, because in my secular role as a therapist I am, daily, living in the phrase: “Start where the client is.” Then, in my spiritual life, I try to push the limits of where people are on their journey, and just as often, where I am in my journey.

I need to listen to the voice in my head– the calmer, more assured, wiser-than-me voice–which whispers from eternity: “Slow down.”

I need to slow down in my expectation of myself, slow down in my expectation of others and know that we are all on a journey which takes us through the land of “knowing” to a place of “understanding”.

For the purposes of what I am discussing, I see “knowing” as concrete facts, the tangibles, the black and whites, the certitude, and often a big dollop of ego on top. When we “know” there is no room to grow–or space for ourselves to evolve, or others to evolve.

I see “understanding” not as another cognitive fact or certitude, platitude, or absolute, but rather kindness, humility, and the authenticity of a deepening presence with God.

I have to understand that wherever we are on the journey, wherever other people are, it is equally as applicable to say “start where you/they are at” because you can only build outward. And to build outward we have to learn, know, and grow enough before we can move to a wider understanding, which no longer requires as much of the training wheels of “knowing”.

I have to accept that journey in others, be patient and humble in myself, and then expect fumbles and falls on both counts.

What do you “know”? What happens if you consider letting go of the “know”? What is the resistance to letting go? What is the freedom in “unknowing” as the ancient mystic said in the title of his book (The Cloud of Unknowing)? 

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