AWARENESS AND BELIEF
It often happens that we either do not know that we can, or even being aware that we can, we do not believe it. The dialectic between awareness and belief is essential. Because knowing and believing is not the same. For example, everyone knows that will die someday, but almost nobody believes it. And those who deeply believe in the obvious truth that death exists and can strike for themselves or for those around at the most unexpected moment, life has a radically different meaning, and consider the present moment, the famous “here and now” is infinitely greater. Personally, I learnt the lesson by having to deal with the heart failures of my youngest daughter, and seeing her on the edge of death several times in their first days of life, even holding her in my arms, heart beatless. It was then when I realized, deep inside, the difference between knowing and believing. And I know that, of course, this memory will stay with me forever.
The paradox is that our mind is very tricky because what we think we “know” belongs to a practical level theoretically, and it does not. Thinking about how to swim does not mean we can swim at all. Knowing what kindness is does not mean we are friendly at all, for example. That’s the great paradox, when we think we know, because this knowledge is only thinkable, but not practical.
Awareness helps us managing existence, but to transform it we need something else: belief. Knowing is not enough. The key to action, to take a step forward, is rooted in believing. That is why, the Latin poet Virgil, wrote with much light: “They can because they believe they can” but did not write “They can because they know they can”. It’s different. Many people know they can but they won’t do. And others who are maybe less capable do because they believe they can. Yes, he who wants does more than he who can, no doubt.
What a paradox: thinking leads us to conclusion. But the problem is that people usually come to a conclusion when they have got tired of thinking. And humans get tired of thinking, in general, too often. And so it all goes…
On the other hand, Plato argued that there is anyone, even coward, who can not become a hero because of love. Indeed, what moves us, what leads us to become more of who we are, is emotion (whose etymology comes from the Latin word emovere, meaning movement, momentum). And emotion and belief are closely linked. Because when I think, I trust, and if I trust, is because I feel a positive emotion towards the object or person of trust, because I believe in them. Believing is trusting and trust comes from a healthy emotional bond.
Then, perhaps the best thing to do would be putting our intelligence at love’s disposal. Investing our practical knowledge at the service of belief, and we might see how things would change.
The problem appears both in people and in organizations where narcissism leads them to think they know when they actually do not know to do, either think they can do. And now I a beautiful story comes to mind:
“The king was presented with two baby hawk and he delivered them for falconry to the teacher that would train them. After a few months, the instructor informed the king that one of the hawks was perfectly tamed, but he did not know what was happening to the other one: it had not moved off the branch since the day of their arrival at the palace, to the point that it had to be brought food up there. The king summoned healers and healers of all kinds, but no one could make the bird fly. He then commissioned that matter to members of the Court, but nothing happened. Through the window of his room, the king could see that the bird sat still. Finally, he published an edict among his devotees and he saw the hawk flying in the gardens the next morning.
—’Bring me the author of this miracle’ —he said.
Then he was introduced to a farmer.
—’Did you make the falcon fly? How did you do it? Are you perhaps a magician?’
Both happy and intimidated, the man just explained:
—’It was not hard Your Highness, I just cut off the branch on which it always rested. The bird realized it had wings and just started to fly.”
Yes. We have got wings. The problem is that we do not often believe it, though it is clear that there are there. And sometimes life “cut our branches” for us to realize why we have got wings we have not deployed yet and ultimately, we can do more than we could imagine.
Kisses and hugs,
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