They say ignorance is bliss, but we chide that remark because nobody seeks to be ignorant. Of course, it is simply bestowed upon some, but not because they sought it out. And because they aren’t even aware – they don’t know what they don’t know – bliss could be said to be the result.
Confucious said “Those who are meant to hear will understand. Those who are not meant to understand will not hear.”
Yet, for those of us who seek the antithesis of ignorance, we do everything in our power to gain intelligence and wisdom. We get degrees, advanced degrees, attend seminars, read books, listen to podcasts and audios, participate in workshops, engage in online learning…and, oh yes, there are also the schools of “life” and “hard knocks”.
The only issue with wisdom is if and when it becomes the limiting factor to otherwise inspired action. We may call our “been there, done that” or “that’s just the way I am” statements those of wisdom and yet, in their shrinking-of-the-all-things-possible-world effect, they can limit our experience, joy and even bliss.
The eastern philosophies speak to this a great deal. “Shoshin” is a term in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when approaching anything, even if engaging in something you already “know”, just as a beginner would. Also, Laozi (Lao Tzu), ancient Chinese founder of philosophical Taoism, said “To know that you do not know is the best.”
In our Back Forty, though we may do many great works in mentoring and guiding earlier generations (as practiced in an organization we support, Encore.org), it’s important to do a double-take on ourselves and look to see where our supposed “wisdom” is limiting our own continued growth and development.
If, as we say in The Back Forty, you have YET to do what you came here to do, then we can’t afford the luxury of thinking that WE ALONE know what is or isn’t possible for us or what we can or can’t do.
The Back Forty community is founded on the principle that, together, we can keep re-MIND-ing ourselves to open our minds as to what this second half has in store for us when we treat everything in the first half as simply R & D (research and development).
If you didn’t know that you couldn’t do or be something at any age — no matter what you’ve done or been before — what does your first half of R & D tell you to go do or be now?
“It takes a very long time to become young.”