“I want to understand you, I study your obscure language.”
— Alexander Pushkin
We believe we share a common language but we are mistaken. Oh we use the same words and they sound the same but we differ in meaning and nuance. Our symbolisms differ sometimes a little and sometimes a great deal. To me it’s not half as surprising that we misunderstand each other so often as that at times we manage to communicate at all. That borders on the miraculous.
Each person has their own key and codex that we can learn each step of the way. We can start out easy by asking someone what they mean when they use a different word. We can learn sense modalities and come to understand the symbolism that underlays their expression. This all takes time and patience. It’s worthwhile tho. I don’t know that there is a greater joy than true communication with another except possibly clear communication with our inner selves and the outer universe.
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Outside the Pattern He Tends To Business by G A Rosenberg
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.
— Frank Herbert
Innocence is often the price we pay for knowledge and often it is a worthwhile exchange. When we encounter something new we often try to connect it with something that we have known before. When we can do this, we often avoid delving deeper as there is no reason to. We feel we understand it already. It is only when we can’t make an automatic connection that we seek more knowledge in order to reach a level of understanding. However once we grasp something we can no longer claim innocence of it.
“Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.”
— Carl Gustav Jung
My cup of truth overflows
My certainty knows no bounds
Nothing enters no one leaves
when I start to expound
There may be fools who differ
well let them they’re wrong
What I have to offer
is not a madman’s song
Could it be
I’ve been mistaken?
Has my worldview
A perceptual error
A faulty premise
shakes my foundations
Have I been remiss?
I order my thoughts
I rebuild stronger
I accept that this truth
won’t last any longer
than past misconceptions
Ah well it’s true
Older conclusions must
give way to the new.
— G A Rosenberg
“I am obscure and odd, very deeply odd.”
— Virginia Woolf
Am I obscure? Perhaps but then I tend towards the mistake that many have read what I’ve read tho I seen to have more of a taste for it than others. Puzzling but then I have enjoyed the company of books more often and deeper at times than the company of other people. Connections made with the writers or the beings that they write about . A character from a beloved novel invoked at 3 AM can be as powerful as any other spirit and there are many with whom I have had discourse. But then like dear Ms. Wolfe, I have no trouble admitting to my oddness.
The more I live life, the more puzzling I find certain aspects of it. Sometimes this is amazingly heartening and sometimes like the present I find it frustrating. I want to be able to fix the world or at least the parts of it that I love and yet I can see perspectives where there is no brokenness just being. Anything can be healed perhaps yet the how and why and consequences of doing so are not often available. Everything has ripples, ways in which they interact with other things that interact still more that any change to the system can change it beyond recognition. Yet still I impose my will even tho I may not know how to cause no harm. Still the I I know as me is new to this game, merely in it for a little over half a century. Maybe with time the wisdom and discernment of how to act and more importantly when will come. Until then I learn and attempt..why anything I set my mind to I suppose.
“Dear God, I want it all: the depths, the heights.”
— Theodore Roethke
Prayers to shell games
deific masques wishing for the extremes
and gaining them only
for the middle to drop out
I thought if I had the highs and the lows
I’d have it all
yet it is in the mid-ranges I thrive
Striving to understand
striving to learn
Striving to live
and missing the plot
that my life is scattered around me
the discarded and discarnate pieces
waiting to be picked up.
the wide ranges are great
agony and ecstasy
yet so easy to lose the plot
the context in which they all make sense
I want the colours and the greys
foreground and background to
and the key to make them fit.
Not out of a sense of greed
but of commitment to knowing the all
One eternity or another will be just time enough
— G A Rosenberg
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
— Albert Einstein
Knowledge is easy to come by these days. Our phones and our computers put a world of facts at our fingertips. Yet how much of what we know do we truly understand? It is one thing to know that a stove top that is in use is too hot to touch but to understand it you have to experience what it is to be burned. To me understanding is akin to the term grok that Robert Heinlein used in his novel “Stranger in a Strange Land”. It means to not only have knowledge of something but to become one with it, to have it live inside your skin. Most spiritual knowledge is only words and paradox without understanding. Once the understanding is reached than the paradoxes can be embraced. It is easy to be a know it all in today’s world. To truly give knowledge meaning tho we need to understand.
On the qabalistic Tree of Life, the second and third spheres (sephiras) are Cookman which means Wisdom and Binah Understanding. Wisdom is considered active and Understanding passive and sitting across on the same level of the tree means that they form a certain dichotomy. In between them is the hidden sphere D’aath which means Knowledge. The Path that joins the Three is that represented by the Empress card of the tarot which holds the meaning of the full-blown creative impulse. It fits rather well if you think of it as it takes wisdom used in a creative way to turn knowledge into understanding.
“We all think we know who we are and what we want from life, but when it really comes down to it, I’m not really sure we know anything except that we’re all trying; we’re all surviving; we’re all living.”
“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.”
— Carl Sagan
We can and do create our realities. We cannot create anyone else’s, we can merely influence them. This both gives us responsibility and gives us hints where our responsibility ends.
People want desperately to believe in the inhumanity of others. Given a chance many will try to demonize rather than understand and define as evil what they don’t understand or what they don’t like. Evil is seldom the enemy that ignorance is.
We all have parts of ourselves that are unlikable. If you are determined to dislike someone figure out what it is about them that you dislike, No one is representative of any group except themselves.
Understanding has its good points but there are drawbacks as well. When we truly understand someone it is awfully difficult to hate them. Also to understand someone is to know something of the pain they have felt in their lives. Most of us can barely handle our own.
At no time in known recorded history has mankind been so aware of his flaws. I am not sure if this has made us better or rather given us a keener eye for naming the flaws of others.
“Find the stories that help you comprehend the incomprehensible. Find the stories that make you stronger.”
— Eleanor Davis, How to Be Happy
The stories that give me strength are ones that deal with our understanding of ourselves and others. Ones where someone is forced to walk in another person’s footsteps and see what life is like from the inside of their head. In many of the stories and novels I have read where this has happened, it results in a certain alchemy taking place where each person takes on the characteristics of the other that they needed in order to become more successful in their own lives. Part of me has always wanted to reproduce that alchemy with almost everyone I’ve met.
We are all such mysteries to each other. We believe we have true understanding or perspective or at least enough to judge what another should do or where they are right or wrong yet seldom unaided can we truly know what it feels like for them from the inside. The funny thing is it is not all that difficult. If we start with getting to know the person, really listen to them and get a feel for their lives and experiences and how they experience them, we can begin to imagine what it is they are going through. This does not mean that we agree with their choices or would make the same ones but it means we can understand why they made them. We can experience their triumphs and what made them strong and we can know what makes them weep. The more people we can understand in this way, the stronger we become.
“I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.”
― Khalil Gibran, The Madman
You understood my secret self
and took away my refuge.
No longer could I hide
behind the unknowable
I had to step out
and claim sanity’s burden
within your knowing smile.
There are those who revel
in being unknown
while they clamour
at fools’ innocence
Not knowing you cannot have it both ways
Your have made a window in my airless room
and my heart forgives you.