Just so you know, amongst all the folks I have worked with in coaching, and met in practice spaces, clever folks who know it all are the least likely to change or commit to any practice that might disrupt their identity. When reality knocks, they usually close the door.
Why is this important to mention? Isn’t it obvious? Epistemic humility is directly related to a willingness to be wrong and to listen in order to learn. Knowing relates to power to role to identity to meaning. It can be difficult to set all that aside for a moment without turning it into yet act of self-serving knowing.
Remaining open to the capacity of others, of all stripes, cast and experience to show or tell of things we may be unaware of is a discipline that requires renewal. The capacity to do this could be understood as a fundamental characteristic of being present to life: a far more admirable goal than merely being attentive to the so-called present moment.
Let’s move on.
In my previous pieces on doubt a piece was missing which sets up a fundamental recognition in the practicing life. It connects to the point made about foibles, individual proclivities and the need to build a path through your own experience. This understanding combines a non-prescriptive take on a/the path, or a/the way, and the need for it to always be rooted in a/the calling the individual feels and perceives, and that is central to his or her life. This is more of the baby. Some will have a knee jerk response to such wording but it may be misplaced in this context. To speak of an individual’s feelings, perception and calling is simply to ask what is real to them, salient, and demanding attention in a given context or phase of life. And it is asking how practice must respond to each. This is not to sacralise these three aspects or make the individual the crux of meaning to which the world must be subservient. The context is far larger. Ultimately practice must work on our real world conditions and not an ideal of the human.
Where do your own pressing thoughts, feelings and perception lead you in any given moment? How does each operate as a field of practice?
The characteristics are almost always specific, contextual and emerge from your own personal history. I am obviously not referring to the mundane plethora of material that makes up our day-to-day subjective experience, but rather that which calls us in, moves us towards new or attention-demanding question, desire or experience. Saying this is not claiming the truth is somewhere deep down inside or that your inner voice has the answer. Rather, you bring your own experience to practice, and the two must make room for each other. To merely impose practice on the complex matrix of materials that make up you and your world is to render practice a form of survival strategy, straight jacket, or mere identity formation.
It personally took me a while to figure all this out.Continue reading “Doubt Part 4: A calling to practice”