Minister's Post, Fri Mar 18

Dear Ones,

“Knowledge itself is power,” said Francis Bacon in Meditationes Sacrae (1597). Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan (1668) shortened the aphorism to “knowledge is power” -- and many people have repeated it since. But what about the power of not knowing? Fabrice Desmarescaux writes:
“Despite vast amounts of data and computing power, our primitive brains often make the wrong decisions because we fail to grasp the complexity of the world around us. We’re constantly catching up. We tend to oversimplify, and we fall prey to many cognitive biases. The humility of not-knowing may provide the clarity needed to see our way through the most complex problems.”
One problem with emphasizing the power of knowledge is that it can make you feel that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t know something. The pressure to know can limit creativity and constrain your view of reality.

Suppose you freed yourself from time to time from any obligation to know. Suppose you entered your next meeting or conversation with an open, not-knowing attitude. From that relaxed openness new things could arise. The unexpected, the previously unnoticed, new ideas and creative solutions would have room to emerge.

Not-Knowing is a posture of humility – and the only possible answer to complexity. Too often, a leader faced with complexity reacts with denial and mobilizes more resources to crack the problem. But if ze instead adopts an explorer mindset, ze can execute small, probing experiments to start figuring out how the system responds.

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning,” wrote Meister Eckhart. Beginners are comfortable with the impossibility of knowing. Therefore, they can relax and think creatively.

Yours in the faith we share,

Join a Journey Group: http://cucwp.org/journey-groups

I.C.Y.M.I. (In Case You Missed It)

The Mar 13 worship service, "The Moebius Self":

PRACTICE OF THE WEEK: The Four-In-One: Do Good, Avoid Evil, Appreciate Your Lunacy, Pray for Help

From Norman Fischer’s Training in Compassion, training #13 is The Four-In-One: Do good. Avoid evil. Appreciate your lunacy. Pray for help. It turns out it works well to bundle these four and remember them together.

First, do good. Do positive things. Normal social graces like saying hello to people -- saying, as appropriate, “happy birthday” or “I’m sorry for your loss.” But work a bit harder at putting your heart into them.

Second, avoid evil. Pay close attention to actions of body, speech, and mind. Notice when you do, say, or think things that are harmful of unkind. Noticing them helps them happen less often. Unkind thoughts or words that do not seem so bad nevertheless erode our sense of integrity if we don't pay attention to them.

Third, appreciate your lunacy. Truly it is a marvel, the extent to which we are selfish, confused, lazy, resentful, etc. If we develop a sense of humorous appreciation for our own stupidity, we can laugh at ourselves and everyone else.

Fourth, pray for help. Whether you imagine a deity or not, you can express that you’d appreciate whatever help the universe might happen to send your way. You are not asking to be absolved of the need to act. You’re just articulating your hope for strength to do what you know you must do. Praying for help reminds us that we are not alone and we can't do it by ourselves. Sometimes we forget this point and fall into the habit of imagining an illusory self-reliance.

Do good, avoid evil, appreciate your lunacy, and pray for help. Simple everyday instructions.

For the full post, see "The Four-In-One: Do Good, Avoid Evil, Appreciate Your Lunacy, Pray for Help."

Here it is, your...
#112: The Way

The Way is the way of ordinariness. The quest of specialness in ourselves and our experiences: this is what the Way abjures.

The folks were sitting around one moonlit night, enjoying one another's company, when Woodpecker asked, "What is the Way?"
Raven said, "The Ancestors got up and stretched.
Woodpecker said, "Well, we do, too."
Raven nodded.
Woodpecker asked, "Then the Way is nothing special?"
Raven said, "I'll always remember this full-moon gathering."
Woodpecker said, "It's nice, but how is it special?"
Raven said, "The moon."
The Way

Picture it:
A woman, or a man, in a grocery store.
Also, a second shopper -- not hard to imagine.
Each peruses the shelves on aisle 6.
Each selects a jar of something
and is attended by the same thoughts and feelings
Running along the grooves of the same habits.
Implausible, I know, but imagine it.

If I then tell you that one of them does this
With greater freedom than the other,
I would mean that along with
The matching cognitive and affective processes
One of them is also listening,
Listening for a call
From far away or near, from any direction,
To something different
or the same.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon

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