We live in a society that tells us that knowledge = facts. That the act of knowing something is almost instantaneous; we just need to be told it and then, memory prevailing, we will have succeeded in “learning” it!
But my experience over the past couple of years tells a different story.
Of the many interesting and profound things I have been told, it often turns out that I only really come to “know” what they "mean" much later on. Sometime in the future, something someone said to me or that I have read comes up in my memory and clicks in a new way. “It makes sense now,” I chuckle.
Sometime in the future, something someone said to me or that I have read comes up in memory and clicks in a new way. “It makes sense now,” I chuckle.
This kind of knowledge is not factual but more akin to a kind of self-knowledge. And this way of knowing is not a quick act — “done!” — but a historical and contextual process which often reaches its peak in that eventual “eureka!” or “aha!” moment.
Yet, while there is often an “aha” moment of realisation, it is much more than intellectually learning a new fact. Instead, it is a sense of knowing that comes from within: knowing in a deeper, more meaningful and embodied way.
In fact, this sense of knowing is time, space, and body dependent. It could only have come to be known in this way because of all the other things that came before: my embodied, contextual, and deeply personal — yet intricately interrelated — life history.
For our past experiences plant seeds within us, ripe with the rich potential to bloom. Yet such seeds only germinate and (eventually) flourish with the right conditions; there is a "right" season for all the stages of the seedling’s life.
You may be told something once, twice, or a hundred times. But there is a sense that knowing is ultimately an embodied experience: distinct and relative for each of us in different ways at different times. And when it clicks in that new, fabulous, way — that exciting moment of knowing — well that's great too.
As is in nature, the flower must die. But the cycles of life, death, and rebirth continue. Knowledge blooms — flourishes — excessively in those densely rich moments one might describe as revelatory; within the bounds of our embodied and temporal lives. Yet soon, as time turns, what was once a new revelation becomes normalised; the novelty dissipates, folding back into the mundanity of our everyday being. And this, in turn, creates new space for new experiences, new insights, and new learning curves. The process continues.
There is a right time for everything.
And there is a profound beauty to the natural revelation of this deeper kind of knowledge.
For personal reflection: consider the kind of process of learning and acquirement of knowledge outlined above. You might think of similar experiences you have had; what they felt like in your body and being. How might such an embodied approach to knowledge differ to knowing and learning as defined in our mainstream, Western society? What might change if we adopted a more “embodied” or “revelatory” approach to learning and knowing, as described in this piece?