The curse of knowledge

[Disclosure: I lead information sessions for Landmark Worldwide’s personal development programs though I don’t speak on their behalf and opinions here are my own.]

I guess there are two themes in this article. One is that we should hurry up and transform humanity. The other is that knowledge is what’s in the way.

Transformation is a shift in who you are being, inside a new sense of what’s possible. It arises not from knowledge but from a new perspective.

In transformational training, people take on who they are for themselves, e.g. “I’m shy and I don’t want that any more” or “I procrastinate and I want to get into action”. They get to see that it’s not a fixed way of being, just a response to decisions they made about themselves in the past. That habitual response is a way of being, not a piece of knowledge.

If you’re shy, you already know you can just walk up and start a conversation, but knowing that makes no difference. Your access to transformation is a new way of being, not more knowledge.

It works great. Takes a few days of facilitated navel-gazing.

This is radical stuff. For hundreds of years, transformation has been elusive. Twenty years on a mountain top or get cancer and survive it: that’s when you’re supposed to transform. The notion that it can be done in a few days flips your brain’s skeptical switch.

This is particularly true if you’re steeped in the world of knowledge. The most resistant people I’ve encountered value knowledge highly and know they’re good at acquiring it. To them, this training looks like knowledge. Bzzz. Wrong.

People believe they already know everything about themselves or they will shortly, and then it’ll be fine. Except that we all lack perspective on the way we wound up being. The irony of knowledge workers being the people least open to transformation is not lost on me.

Homo sapiens - experience, knowing, fixed ways of being

Our concept of who we are as human beings doesn’t alter very often. Not much has shifted since the Enlightenment, when we began to distinguish (empirical) knowledge from (religious) belief. Distinguishing knowledge and being would mark another shift in who we are as a species.

For hundreds of years we’ve seen conflict as inevitable, complaint as justified, people as fixed, and ourselves as the virtuous heroes of our own lives … but all those fictions could be overturned during the next couple of decades.

Imagination is more important than knowledge
– Albert Einstein

Homo sapiens curiosis - experience, inquiry, contextual being

Image: Sextan Shepherd, Torley Linden

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