I’ve been my sons’ teacher through most of their lives, and one of the things I’ve needed to keep reMinding them, and myself, over the years is that there is a vast difference between Knowledge and Intelligence. Knowledge is a collection of facts which humans are demonstrably, catastrophically horrible at tracking or understanding or connecting in meaningful ways. Intelligence, on the other hand, is the ability to respond, with one’s heart, mind and assorted unknown unknowable ways of knowing to whatever is arising in Life. I told them they could always gather whatever facts they needed, always learn new skills … and so we focused on working/playing to master the skills involved in Responding. Teenagers now, I’m delighted and relieved to watch as they not only pick up new facts and skills whenever they need them, but also have Passion and Curiosity and Openness and (and this is The Best Part): They ever-increasingly trust themselves to be able to respond. One of my eldest’s friends at his high school (at the tail end of our three year experiment with Other Forms of School) said, “You’re leaving school? How will you learn anything?” And my son replied, “You don’t understand. You can’t learn anything here. Learning happens out in the world, with everything.”
Western culture places so much Value on Facts, Ideas, Formal Mental Structures of all kinds … our Minds become whole Cities Of Ideas built of (largely misconceived) Facts, connected by Concrete Freeway Systems that get us from City to City so fast we can’t possibly notice that the Cities have paved over The True Garden Of Our Minds, where everyThing is always being born into Thingness, ever arising from Mystery; ever and always connected to All. Dangerous things Ideas and Facts. Metaphor and Poesis are much safer ground for language, where there is always remembering that the best words only hint at, point to, remind us of infinite possibilities; are more like Seeds and Toys, things to plant within oursElves and play with.
The Cities are so very subtle, they become What We Think Is True. It’s amazingly difficult to warn people about their dangers. To say, “Hey, I’d love to play! but I keep running into these Structures…” Part of the difficulty arises because we humans both need and want Structures … we are constantly con-structing (building-with) reality within and between ourselves. This is where metaphor and Poïesis come in: Poïesis (the Wiki tells us) “is etymologically derived from the ancient Greek term ποιέω, which means “to make”. This word, the root of our modern “poetry”, was first a verb, an action that transforms and continues the world.” So one of the keys is to conceive of our Structures as Living Things, and allow them to constantly update and evolve just as Plants and Animals and Stars constantly update themselves, ever Becoming-Anew in Response to All-That-Is. When we understand the Power of Language (and all its children) to transform and continue our world, we’ll begin to attend much more carefully to what we think and say, and we’ll make sure our knowing stays fresh and alive, never hardening into dead and deadly Cities.
When we change the nature of the Structures we build in our Minds … we’ll be astounded and amazed at the Transformations we create in what we build in our world.