“A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.
The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious: Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”
A friend of mine posted this story today in a FB page on Spiral Dynamics and asked people their perceptions about the levels of consciousness of the two people involved in the story. For the intents of this essay let’s translate his question as “What quality do you believe the woman contained that would allow her to freely give of the stone?”One of the people who commented on the thread gave a thorough tho somewhat tortuous analysis of the story to show that he did not believe the question was answerable. As proof of this he argued that there was nothing in the story that showed A) that the man knew the woman was wise and B)that the woman knew the stone had value. I find both points fairly easy to counter. It is obvious from the last sentence that the man perceived that the woman knew its value. Also wisdom is seldom an attribute we give ourselves. It is normally a quality that is perceived and bestowed by others. The woman is describe by this word twice in the story which to my reading means her wisdom was readily apparent. That is all besides the point.
I have noticed a tendency in academics and intellectuals to avoid questions that involve a certain amount of soul searching by intellectually picking the question apart and attempting to discredit the question rather than answering it. This is something that I struggle with myself. We dance very intricate dances of reason and critique, anything to avoid that plunge into self reflection. Is it fear of losing our objectivity? That seems rather an empty fear as none of us are truly objective. We all have past experiences and learned behaviours that colour our perceptions no matter how we try to distance ourselves. Is it a fear of exposing ourselves and being vulnerable to critique? That feels quite possible. I know there are times when I would rather distance myself from a question rather than appear foolish in my answer. Using our intellect and knowledge are pretty good armour against possible attack. Unfortunately they can be equally effective against insight and growth.
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