You don't know what you don't know

November 21, 2022

Why is it important to know what you don't know?

To be completely honest, this doesn't matter at all to most people. And it's kind of obvious why. We all go through our lives learning from our families, teachers and friends, as well as our experiences, surroundings and environment. We also know what we know based on the cultures that we are born into - the rules of engagement, if you may, that condition us to think and behave the way that's expected from us. Therefore it makes sense that the knowledge that's formed from all of these things is what shapes our personalities and ultimately our realities.

I had the great honour of meeting someone whom I truly respect at a recent Arhatic Yoga retreat - a Master of Pranic Healing. I felt like a nervous child meeting their television idol for the first time - smiling with a silly grin on my face and with excitement beaming from my eyes. As I went up to greet her, another retreat participant rushed up past me and held out her hands to offer a beautifully presented box of dates to the Master, which was accepted gratefully. This box of dates was then immediately moved in front of me, and the Master offered politely for me to take one.

Without even thinking, I felt embarrassed and I immediately refused, as I did not want to take a gift that was just given to Master. 

There was a sudden silence and coldness in the room as I noticed that every single pair of eyes were glaring at mine, signalling for me to take one. I was confused for a split second before I realised that I had responded inappropriately. My unintentionally rude response was shortly followed by the words, "You do not say no to a Master". My hand darted out in front of me as I quickly picked the nearest date to me with a smile as I thanked her with embarrassment.

To some of you reading this, you'll either have let out a short gasp as you read my refusal to accept something from the Master. For others, you may have had my exact reaction of not knowing that taking the gift was the only acceptable response. And even a few of you may be confused as to why this is even a big deal at all.

As I said, we are all conditioned by the values that are passed down to us as children, as well as what we learn throughout our lives. And this example brought to my mind the cultural differences that exist throughout the world, as much as it exists within a single country, a community and even within a family. This affects the quality of relationships as people often assume things based on their own perceptions. Every day, there are misunderstandings that happen because of these differences, which puts a strain on countless relationships and interactions. 

If you think this doesn't matter, that you don't need to consider other people's views and beliefs, then think again. There is already a great degree of intolerance between people as well as friction in marriages and families. This doesn't mean that you must agree with everyone and that all relationships can be saved with a higher degree of knowledge and understanding. But small changes can lead to much bigger positive impacts, and avoid the many misunderstandings that occur each and every day. Had I not had the glares and the message of my actions spoken to me, I would have been perceived as rude by many, including the Master. When in reality, my act of turning down the gesture was in my intention to be polite by not taking a gift that wasn't given to me. 

So how do you start to learn what you were not brought up to know? And should you spend all of your time trying to think and see from the eyes of others? Of course not. This is not practical and in fact, may even bring you to a paranoid state trying to understand every single point of view. But, for example, when travelling to foreign places, it would be wise to educate yourself about the cultural dos and don'ts of the country you're visiting. Or when interacting with people who have obvious differences to your own upbringing, to not be quick to judge and perhaps even take an interest with questions. Communication is key to having a greater degree of understanding and can avoid terrible misunderstandings. 

And for those of you who know me well, I often talk about one of the sure ways to develop a greater level of awareness, understanding and empathy or compassion for others. This is through meditation - namely the Meditation on Twin Hearts. Imagine if I told you that if you start to incorporate this into your regular routine, your life can improve, not only within yourself, but also in your relationships. That you can gain a more positive outlook in life, and become calmer and more balanced with your emotions. That you can also start to become more focused and clear-minded, along with countless other benefits to your well-being. And all it would take would be twenty minutes a day. Would you try it?

I don't claim to know everything, but what I do know is that this has worked for me and for countless others. And in a world where life can be difficult, why wouldn't you want to incorporate some simple techniques to help you to achieve a happier and healthier life?