A reader’s question:
Hi Kim, I have a challenging one for you. Something I was reading in a book by Bertrand Russell. He said (I’m paraphrasing) that if you find a great wish to convince someone of something, a passion, then probably you are not completely convinced of it yourself. I think this is one genius observation by Russell. I know I do that. I’m trying to see if the person I am trying convince is myself.
You know, there is this difference between superficial knowledge and deeply integrated knowledge. Knowledge you have in your brain and knowledge you live with every cell of your body. Sometimes when we ‘know’ something, for instance I know that perhaps it would be better for me not to judge others, that that is not the best I can do. But I still do it. Why? Because my knowledge is only superficial. Real knowledge is when it becomes part of you and then the desire to convince anyone is gone. I feel that this ‘real’ knowledge is not something that I have ever been able to figure out myself with my small limited brain. Whenever I had a taste of this, whenever a shift in me happened that actually made a difference to my being, I felt it was given to me as a gift. A gift from God.
I wanted to share this with you; please tell me what you make of it.
My Attempt to Answer this difficult question:
Actually, I was thinking the exact same thing this morning. Our minds are in cognitive “synergy”. That is why I have not posted in a couple of days. I have not felt so much equanimity and peace, in part because I know a few people in Colorado, and one of my friends Jeff, although he was not injured in the weekend attacks, felt unsafe now. What about my own equanimity and peace if he were hurt. I may drive up to Colorado and go hunting for Mr. Holmes. I do NOT fancy myself any sort of guru “with all the answers”. I struggle with it every single day. Sometimes, I read back on my posts and think I should just delete the entire ‘book’ because I often do not think this way. I really want to make this type of equanimity and peace a part of me ALL THE TIME, but I agree with Mr. Russell that perhaps I am not completely convinced of it myself. Truly wise people like Laotse were known for their complete SILENCE about their feelings, and their lack of need to convince anyone of it.
They did not hold “motivational workshops” at their local convention center. And we constantly read about many “gurus” getting themselves into trouble with the law…too many times I cannot count. And many of these “wise” thinkers, and I can include Christian clergy members too, are constantly found to “have sinned”
After all, I think I can still respond with Equanimity and Peace if someone hurts my own feelings by saying something racist if I am sitting alone at a cafe. But what if someone hurts my own mother at a traffic light by stealing her car? At that moment, I do no think that such equanimity and peace that I speak of can easily be achieved by myself…although I would try.
That is why I often agree with ascetics (living with the fewest possessions) and those ascetics with no children or family. A person can often deal with peace and equanimity if they are alone in the world, but if someone they love is being self destructive…or in serious financial trouble, then it gets so hard to continue feeling enlightened.
I like your nicely cynical stance on this. It had me examine myself for a good thirty minutes…
For example, in many of my posts I advocate avoiding watching violence on the media, but I am very guilty of such viewing in my own free time. That is why most people who are really enlightened often do not live anywhere near society (like a monk or nun), and prefer secluded environments. If you are an enlightened person, and someone is paying rock n roll music REALLY loudly in your apartment building…or their dogs are barking all night (and you have a college examination in the morning)…or the plumbing is messed up and sewage water is backing up onto your floor, then how will you maintain equanimity and peace? You can still do it, but I agree with you it will be so tough.
So I agree with you on that part. Sometimes, the most vocal we are about a situation reveals the parts we are weakest in…