Ponder the Greatness
Gaining Living Knowledge
BY: Troy Murphy |May 2018
Today, I sit in a university library on the 5th floor, surrounded by rows of books, chronicles of human discovery and experience. The crumbs of knowledge I have gathered during the last half century seems insignificant and trivial. Before the search, when I knew so much less, I believed I knew so much more. The ignorance of youth grants the possessor with security of unqualified competence. Perhaps, the courageous child only explores because of the blindness. As we progress, delving into the great expansive unknowns, we gain faith, not in security of the known, but in our capabilities to navigate the unknowns.
Immanuel Kant wrote, “Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.” Research continually unveils new discoveries on human behavior. The relatively unexplored frontiers remain full of exciting knowledge. Time invested exploring expands understanding. We can, as I am today, slip into a university library, or bounce around the abundance of information in the cyber world, but eventually, for true absorption of knowledge, we must engage in a little more, seeking knowledge not contained on the written page or the flashing screens of a computer.
Experience teaches the most powerful lessons. We can read about compassion but to absorb the giving and receiving of compassion transforms words—letters on a page—into knowledge and feeling. Converting words into living knowledge creates life-directing wisdom. When we learn from vast experience, the lessons express themselves with positive action. We may understand academically the science of neuron communication but not recognize the dance of emotions when felt. A person well-versed in psychology may explain in clear vernacular their action but continue to struggle, unable to integrate the smooth articulation into better action. We may understand John Gottman’s principles of thriving relationships but still act destructively towards our partner, not recognizing our harsh judgments, emotional distancing, or hurtful labels.
"Converting words into living knowledge creates life-directing wisdom. "
When growing stalls, gathering more information may not be the answer. We must integrate what we already know—start the diet, follow the budget, act with kindness. Many excel at academics but woefully lack at integration. They seek to rectify the confusion of a staggering life by seeking more facts; but facts alone fail to ignite the desired change. Action is needed. Google all you want; but the internet search can go on forever distracting from necessary action.
The greatest learning happens once when we set the labels, words, and symbols aside and quietly absorb the surrounding greatness.
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