Bird Droppings August 6, 2013
Sailing off the edge and or thinking out of a box
“I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for oneself, one’s own family or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind. Universal responsibility is the key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace.” The Dalai Lama, from The Pocket Zen Reader
I have found teachers can be limited in their scope of reality. You would think that as a group teachers would be more open to ideas, to new thought, to climbing out of the box. I read this passage above yesterday in a daily offering I receive. I immediately thought of teaching. As a teacher most think only within the confines of their room. Being in a somewhat different sort of atmosphere in a resource room although I did claim god like power yesterday within my room one of my goals is behavior outside of my room. Whoa, what a concept? Try and get kids to behave for other teachers. In reality it is simply expanding kids thinking beyond the moment or at least trying to.
“Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.” Isaac Asimov
I read this statement so many years ago and I responded one way. A friend sent me this quote, we have an ongoing dialogue and this was a response to something I wrote and not really a counter thought but additional support. Wisdom is not as elusive as one might expect. But I do not think in wisdom one would destroy one’s self. Knowledge or knowing how to do something does not impart wisdom. A radical extremist can know how to build a nuclear device and detonate it and is that wisdom? Car bombers are they wise? Dying in retaliation and perhaps in any kind of war is that wise? Wisdom is not controlling knowledge and maybe I really do not know what wisdom is. So wisdom is part knowledge but also an additional aspect of concern and caring that provide the frame work for the knowledge to be structured within. Yet wisdom is not truly control.
Achilles knew his limitations and did battle. Someone else found his weakness and he was defeated. As I look deeper into the statement by Asimov however there is a willingness to know at any cost and perhaps that is really what is being said. Given the choice of not knowing or knowing and in so knowing all will be destroyed still Asimov would choose to know.
I recall Columbus Day celebrating a man who at one point discovered America for Europeans some indigenous peoples will say they discovered Columbus lost. However as the weeks passed his desire to know came under fire as his crew feared sailing off the edge of the world and sea serpents and such. He chanced it and discovered a new world for him sometimes it is not destruction but illumination that waits.
“True wisdom lies in gathering the precious things out of each day as it goes by.” E. S. Bouton
“Raphael paints wisdom; Handel sings it, Phidias carves it, Shakespeare writes it, Wren builds it, Columbus sails it, Luther preaches it, Washington arms it, Watt mechanizes it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Seeing the pieces and picking through and knowing which to save and which to toss aside is that wisdom. I wonder as I sit thinking this morning.
“Wisdom is not wisdom when it is derived from books alone.” Horace
“In talking to children, the old Lakota would place a hand to the ground and explain: ‘We sit in the lap of our mother. From her we, and all other living things, come. We soon shall pass, but the place where we now rest will last forever.’ So we too, learned to sit or lie on the ground and become conscious of the life around us in its multitudinous forms.” Chief Luther Standing Bear, Teton Sioux
Having an understanding of what it is we see and touch maybe there is wisdom. It is not as much knowing but understanding. An understanding within the constraints of what we know. What a paradox? I am sitting reading Kent Nerburn’s book Native American Wisdom, filled with quotes and ideas from Native American culture and thought. In a passage from Sitting Bull, the great medicine man of the Teton Sioux he wonders why all things have happened as they have from his thoughts and as I read I wonder.
“Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am a Sioux? Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country?” Sitting Bull, Teton Sioux
Sitting Bull received his answer shortly thereafter as he was arrested for inciting mutiny on the reservation during a period of unrest. A medicine man from another tribe had started a cult of sorts and many Sioux were following. Sitting Bull was accused of taking part and on his way to jail as legend has it he was killed. His arresters, several Sioux guards as Sitting Bull gestured to his grandson, they thought he was pulling a pistol and shot him several times. Sitting Bull had foretold his death several days before by Sioux hands.
“Wisdom comes in dreams” Wovoka, Paiute, medicine man
Why even bring up an old Native American’s ideas during a discourse on wisdom? It is within the context of our knowledge that we seek wisdom within what we know. So often we fear what we do not know which is literally the opposite of wisdom and then try and destroy it. Had we tried to understand when we first came to the Americas perhaps the day after Columbus Day would be somewhat different? What if we had tried to understand instead of force our knowledge upon a group of people? Knowledge alone can destroy wisdom however maybe the buffer is understanding. Freud and Jung might argue Wovoka’s thought, yet they would sit and ponder dreams as therapy. I wonder as I sit and always my thoughts come back to going into a class room. I hope as I teach some way this makes sense and when a student leaves they look differently at life maybe wiser maybe just seeing a new color today instead of all black and white.
“Teachers are people who start things they never see finished, and for which they never get thanks until it is too late.” Max Forman
Maybe in that statement is wisdom and understanding but we may never see the true nature of all we as teachers do and hopefully we are continuing to look. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)