‘”There are, he said, “two lines along which man’s development proceeds, the line of knowledge, and the line of being. In right evolution the line of knowledge and the line of being develop simultaneously, parallel to, and helping one another. But if the line of knowledge gets too far ahead of the line of being, or if the line of being gets ahead of the line of knowledge, man’s development goes wrong, and sooner or later it must come to a standstill.”‘
– P D Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous (quoting Gurdjieff from one of his many talks)
This was me a few years ago.
I had spent so long working on my career, accruing legal knowledge as if there was no tomorrow, that I forget the equally and perhaps more important being.
And by being, I don’t mean my physical being (I was the only lawyer in the firm who cycled 40 miles per day!). I mean a whole self, someone who understood why I was programmed to act a certain way or avoid doing things that might be contrary to my true self.
How do you feel right now?
Is your life in balance?
More to the question, are you working just as hard on developing the inner self as you are on your career or whatever, in a material sense, holds your attention?
This isn’t an idle question. At least I don’t think so.
For a while now, I’ve been drawn to consider why so few people turn inwards to find peace and, instead, look outwards. I don’t mean the accretion of material wealth or faux experiences. Instead the fact that we are intent on building up our knowledge but for such limited purpose.
Ask yourself, Who am I? What’s my purpose? Why am I here?
Does your ‘knowledge’ help you truthfully answer these questions?
It may be conjecture, but I doubt it.
I suspect that you’re no wiser than you were 10 years ago.
Whatever your religious or philosophical standpoint, it’s undoubtedly the case that too little time is spent on levelling up between our knowledge and our being. We assume erroneously that our knowledge will help us understand our being, but it never does.
Next time you are drawn to read a book, watch a video or attend a seminar, ask yourself is this simply adding to your knowledge or opening a path to something much bigger i.e. a true understanding of self.
Of course, not everything you do has to be or should be that deep. But the point is that so little of what we do is directed to being.
I suppose, it’s at least arguable that without knowledge we cannot begin to apprehend anything about our true self.
Wisdom, insight and understanding is just as likely to come about when you meet someone, when you connect with nature or perhaps, most powerfully, when you begin to sit with your thoughts (the infernal monkey mind!) in silence.
It would be arrogant of me to suggest that I have acquired enough knowledge; but there’s a part of me that knows I have acquired a lot of wrong learning… and that has led to wrong doing.
Only in the last three years have I started to address the imbalance by dint of spending so much time building a career and nothing more. But at least I’ve started.
If I can impart anything, it’s not to make the same mistake. Working on your self isn’t about the list of books you can recite but how much closer you are to understanding the real you.
Who am I?
Make that your life’s work.