Have you ever driven at high-speed down an open road and decided to turn into the next lane without looking back?
Occasionally, you may find yourself close to a wreck, as the auto hidden in your blind spot hits the accelerator, and you risk crashing into it.
Our ego is our “cognitive framework of the universe,” according to the great psychologist / guru, Baba Ram Das. It is how we see things, or quite simply, how we have it.
It is from this overarching perspective that we form our self-image. In youth, we make the common mistake that our perspective on things is the ONLY VALID PERSPECTIVE. We believe that we know it all. Usually it takes us into midlife before we begin to let go of this presumption.
Most of us grew up with a Newtonian perspective that the universe is very much “out there,” and we are all much like billiard balls bouncing around in it. We hardly ever challenge this view until we either take mind-expanding drugs, have a mystical perspective or study Eastern philosophy and religion.
If we accept that we are much like a billiard ball, we must protect our body and mind, and keep others from knocking us into the hole.
We are driven by deep feelings of anxiety that we often refuse to admit to ourselves. Our life becomes a continuous game of survival, draining us from any experience of love, joy or peace.
With regard to knowledge, we encounter several possibilities:
1. That which we know.
2. That which we DON’T know.
3. That which we THINK we know, but DON’T know.
4. That which we DON’T know we DON’T know.
That Which You Know
If we can verbalize something, especially in the English language, we have a feeling we know it, such as subject matter in a textbook that we can recite or expound upon.
This is knowledge based on the left-brain, which corresponds to our right side, which expresses itself in words or numbers. In contrast, our right brain takes in an entire scene at once, much like a fast 35-millimeter camera and thinks in terms of pictures.
This corresponds to your intuition. You know without knowing how or why.
That Which You DON’T Know
If we haven’t studied a particular subject, but we recognize its importance, we admit that we don’t know.
For example, American English is my mother tongue, but I am reasonably fluent in French on a basic level. I have heard about African Swahili and would readily admit I know nothing about it. The irony is that, when we go for a Ph.D., we quickly find out that we know more and more about less and less.
We never arrive at the point where we totally know any subject. The more we learn the more we discover how little we do know.
Like one saying goes…
That Which You THINK You Know, but DON’T Know
When we pretend that we have mastered a subject where we still have significant gaps, we can easily be exposed.
For example, I studied French at the university and went over to Europe several times. I have French-speaking friends here in the U.S. with whom I practice with from time to time. Whenever I step into a serious business meeting or a technical or scientific discussion, I quickly fall apart. Almost everything I learned about high technology was in English. While French uses many English words for computers, there are many French equivalents, such as logiciels for software. On important occasions, I can suffer embarrassment for being rusty on that language.
This type of ego-driven mindset shows up frequently. When it is used blindly it can create some serious trouble in your daily life. It can help you jump to the wrong conclusions and make bad business decisions or health choices, and ruin your relationships.
However, the next level of egoic mind is way more damaging than this one…
That Which You DON’T KNOW that you DON’T KNOW
If we are highly intellectual, we might speculate about intelligent life on other planets.
For example, Alpha Centauri A is the nearest star to our sun. Yet it is 4.34 light years away…that is the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second. This distance is difficult for us to even imagine. How would we possibly get there in our lifetime on the fastest rocket, which flies in terms of miles per hour? Possibly, like Star Trek, we can be accelerated to the speed of light, and then re-assembled at the other end. But that is totally stretching it!
My speculations about life in other worlds hardly touch on the possibility of multiple universes, or the multiverse, as little as six inches away. The Multiple Worlds Theory is an interpretation of quantum physics that has been around for decades, and yet I never even encountered it, let alone imagined it, until the last few years. You might say that it is out of my experience.
All scientific progress has been based upon an understanding of creation beyond immediate appearances.
For example, Newtonian, or classical physics, is the physics of the eye. This worked just fine until humanity began high-energy physics and discovered that the most fundamental elements of matter, particles of energy, don’t behave at all like the physical world. We had to create a whole new physics to cover this, which, under experimentation, is the most accurate that has ever been developed.
I used more of a scientific example to explain this type of mindset, but imagine how damaging your outcomes can turn out to be if (or when) your ego is used in this type of situation... where you don't know that you don't know.
... Blinded and Dangerous.
Humility is our greatest ally. It is no shame not to know.
A beginner’s mind is the starting point of all wisdom.
Do you remember how you were at three or four years old? Every single day was a daring adventure. You continually poked around the “real world” and constantly discovered new things. You observed everything and assumed nothing.
As we grew up and became socialized, we became more sophisticated and put on masks to hide what we didn’t know (more on this subject click here). We went to school where teachers drilled numbers in our head. We often stopped drawing and playing music and got “serious” about everything. It was no fun!
We can snap out of this self-defeating act, stop playing “God,” and begin to see people and life newly. We never learn better than when we readily admit we know nothing about a subject, and deeply hunger to master it.
This can be true in school, businesses or even relationships. You can see your partner with fresh eyes and experience romantic love all over again.
The moment we recognize that we are blind, we truly see again.