When I open my heart and mind to sayings like the above quote, I’m brought to a new awareness that senses an abiding Presence that holds and cares for me. From this space, I like to ask a question of those who think they have all the answers. The question is, “Where were you before your mother was born?” The response is usually a quizzical facial expression and a statement like; “That’s a pretty stupid question.” What’s your response to the question?
This question is what I would classify as a ‘koan’ or ‘parable.’ It’s not something you can answer with the rational mind. It requires a whole new way of thinking that takes us to trans-rational, intuitive and multi-sensory ways of thinking. As you may know, most of us have reached the ‘rational’ stage of thinking and believe that it’s the highest level of reasoning. It’s not. There are other levels above this and you’ve moved through many below to get here. It’s a journey.
Over forty years ago I studied moral, cognitive, and faith development in graduate school. It was a revelation to me that there are stages of development that we all go through. Depending on our environment and educational opportunities we can get ‘stuck’ in various stages. When others move beyond the stage we’re in, we don’t relate to them well because we’re still residing in our stage which ‘knows’ differently. The trick is to always transcend and include each stage.
When we’re curious, we ask questions and want to learn. When we stay ‘teachable’ we continue to grow and change and rearrange. When we’re not teachable we take issue with higher levels of consciousness, argue with them and sometimes even wage war upon them. We’re seeing this in our own country today as well as in the global community. What we have then is a failure to communicate unless we’re willing to learn together.What we know gets in the way of knowing.
In studying the biology of belief we can come to know quite clearly that our environment has great influence on the cells that make up our bodies. They shape beliefs, behaviors, habits, dispositions as well as ways of being and doing. When it comes to human life; every family, tribe, clan, region, nation, and continent has a variety of environments. These environments are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Some are fertile and hospitable while other are not.
In the environment I was raised in there was only one college graduate in our family before me. He left and never came back. The families stayed put and had been in place for generations. The mindsets were parochial and set. To travel away from this environment for any length of time and come back to visit always ended in difficult and contentious conversations. What was unknown was dangerous, suspect and mostly wrong. What was known was not questioned.
From birth onward we can only learn by going from the known to the unknown. When we resist this principle we stop learning. When we stop learning we stop creating. When we stop creating we stop living into our potential, into who we’ve been created to be. This causes suffering, disconnection, alienation, apathy and violence. This is why we have so much strife in the world. We’ve stopped inquiring, listening and learning. We’ve stopped looking beyond the known.
The older I’ve become, the more I realize how much I don’t know and continue to let go of what I think I do know. This is the Divine Plan, the evolution of consciousness, the creative process of the Divine Creating. This puts an end to suffering and opens us to the great Mystery of Life. It opens us up to new possibilities. By the way, where were you before your mother was born?