I talk about a lot of things on this blog. In no way do I claim to be an expert on these topics or have a treasure trove of knowledge or resources to back me up, I am still quite young and relatively inexperienced, after all. This is just me, thinking.
I know people today are so eager to list their resources and let the names or famous writers, thinkers and scientists roll off their tongue like brand names. This is all well and good, but I believe in chewing on and digesting what I read and hear, to really ask myself what I believe in and then decide, regardless of how highly regarded the original author was. To me, it still makes me an idiot if I hear or read a well spoken argument and immediately equate smooth phrasing with intelligence and believe them. We can read and hear and experience, but we must still contemplate and configure what we believe to be true and worth believing in. Even if an author is famous, I can still disagree with their world-view, while still enjoying the richness of their own experience.
After all, we must consider that as a whole, humanity makes mind blowing discoveries all the time, and perhaps the authors would have thought differently if they knew the things that we do know, or perhaps not, we cannot be sure either way, mostly because they are not alive to respond to our questions. Additionally, human community dynamics and communication itself has undergone such a drastic change in recent times that we must think and apply (personalize, if you will) those ancient ideas differently today. Thinking is essential in configuring ancient wisdom to how it applies today and what it means in the reality of today’s life.
This is the ideal for today after all, isn’t it? The ability to think for yourself? So think for yourself then! Read and experience as much as possible for knowledge is the fuel that feeds your ability to think clearly and truthfully, with no bias or foggy confusion or doubt to clog your thoughts. Once you have read and mulled over though, close the book and then spend some time thinking and dwelling on those ideas. Take into account your experiences, or other first hand experiences you have heard of from other sources. Take into account your beliefs and the other truths you have come to hold as something you can trust.
Think of the experiences you have heard counter to your own beliefs. Take into account their circumstances and their own unique life story, beliefs, upbringing and individual experiences. Think over the possibility of whether both truths can exist in the same world or is one of them invalidated by the other. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how your thoughts, feelings, beliefs may change if you had experienced what they did. Really, put yourself in their shoes and their realities.
We throw this phrase around so much, but most of us are so stubborn in proving ourselves right, that we forget its okay to let go and experience something different. We are so afraid of being proven wrong that we cannot even open ourselves up to the chance at learning something new altogether. By doing this, we are instating a huge blind-spot in our world-view. We forget that our beliefs and ideas are only enhanced when we open ourselves up and entertain opposing thoughts and experiences. You cannot eat only carrots all your life and decide its the best tasting vegetable ever. You have to experience enough vegetables other than carrots to make that decision. If you don’t, you’re being ignorant and stubborn and to put it mildly, a close-minded idiot. By comprehending fully both sides of the argument, you can make a truly informed decision, with little room for that ‘but, what if I was wrong?’ question later on.
After all, the most important part of thinking and formulating beliefs is understanding that it may not always be smooth sailing, and we may be proven wrong more than once, and that fine. This is not about right or wrong, it is about freedom and learning.
Learning is messy. Its a lot of experimentation, a lot of frustration and a lot of trusting in the work of your predecessors, and trusting in your peers and colleagues and trusting in the future generations to carry on the legacy entrusted to them. Again, in learning, there is no simple right and wrong, because every right calls for more research and deeper learning and every wrong calls for a re-write and more learning. Every once in a while, a totally new discovery may be made that may force you to re-examine your previously learned experience and revise it. While delving into the minutiae of your general thesis, you may find contradictions and thus necessity to once more revise. Either way its fine. Learning is constant and requires re-visitations, re-examinations and revisions but that’s okay because its not always black and white- and there’s a freedom in looking at it that way, isn’t there?
Thinking of the idea of contemplation should, I think be approached as learning is approached, not as a set list of black or white but as a whole lot of variations of gray that we’re all together trying to figure out. People should not take contemplation for granted as they do not take learning for granted. Even amongst the sciences there are researchers with opposing theories. If science can have such disparity, why not in the more broad and non-definable-by-research topics?
Yes, in contemplation, tangible proof is more difficult, but at the very least, we must not stand still and complacent for others to thrust their ideas on us. What use is freedom if you will not use it to govern your own mind, the thing that is more you than anything else? Why is it then that we let other people dictate which way we should go, with out so much as a raised eyebrow. Think, ask questions, discover the world of work that has gone into a belief system. When you are done with that, discover the world of work gone against it. Then put everything away, set yourself to some mundane task that needs no thought- such as cleaning, gardening, cooking, running, driving around etc, and then set your mind free to ponder. Talk to yourself about both sides and think.
Our minds are capable of so much more than frivolous thoughts of things that are inevitable to come and go such as fashion or beauty or latest games or tech. Think instead of greater things,think of the great truths, of beauty, of hope, of life, of suffering, of peace, of death. Think of things you were always afraid to question for fear you would not like the answer, things that encompass the whole human experience, things that you can one day pass on to the future generation with full assurance that it is not utter bollocks.
Think, for a few moments, and you will find you have opened the most beautifully chaotic floodgates of human intelligence and wisdom. You will find yourself lost for words and encompassed in something so much bigger than you, that you will finally comprehend the meaning of the word awe-some.
You will find yourself thirsting for more, and less afraid to swim in the waters. You will begin to understand that most real answers are difficult to be contained in a small paragraph and how laughable those who see the world in simplistic black and white are. You will understand how education can elevate close-minded thought and how sometimes, all the education in the world cannot be a substitute for ancient wisdom that comes from real- world experience. You will understand humility, finally, because once you learn a little, you learn how much more we are still trying to understand, and suddenly, you’ll realize how little you know and how much more you have to learn.
So I beg, I plead and implore- please, just set aside one moment to think, to learn, to contemplate.