The Courage To Think

Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation

We’ve been talking about passion and courage this morning, a wonderful topic. Often when we think of courage, we think of the courage to act. If we think of a courageous person, it is a person of valor, maybe in a traditional military setting; perhaps somebody who risks life and limb. But I want to talk about another kind of courage that has to be in the picture if we’re to live a creative life—the courage to think.

The degree of our thoughtfulness, and our wisdom in things, is often the difference between success and failure, between doing something right and beautiful and doing something wrong and destructive. Probably we’ve all seen seemingly well-intentioned people acting in a well-intentioned way, but in a way that lacked wisdom and therefore ultimately caused destruction. Certainly there are historical examples of such things. Even the most horrific things that have happened in human history were most often done by well-intentioned people.

This reminds me of an aphorism that goes like this: “Ignorance is no excuse under the law.” You can’t commit a crime and say, “I didn’t know,” and therefore get away with the crime.

That’s how it goes under the law. How about in life? In life, we’re allowed to be ignorant for a while. Children are allowed to be ignorant or naive, and they can go along for a while and it works just fine, and there is some kind of protection by the Creator that is present, who holds them in their ignorance. But there comes a time for every person when there begin to be penalties for ignorance. In the end, we are charged with knowing. As adults, we are charged with knowing. If we, in whatever way, say in our life, “Well, I didn’t know,” somehow the word may come back, “You should have known. You could have known. It’s your responsibility to know.”

But there are blocks to knowing, and there are risks to knowing. It takes courage and passion to know.

We all have some kind of passion. What is the passion about? The passion is about what we love and value, and that’s really where it all begins, isn’t it? If we’re clear about what we love and what we value, and we’re passionate about that in an all-consuming kind of a way, it is that all-consuming passion that brings the kind of courage that a person needs to think and to know, and to have wisdom. While there are certain kinds of passion that lead to destruction and not knowing, the passion for true values leads to courage. Because if the passion is all-consuming about what is true, you would do anything for what you love—anything for your first love.

A person with this kind of passion knows that what they do has to be in true service to what they love. And what they do can’t be just any kind of thing. That would be too easy. The courage of an action just for the sake of courage isn’t nearly enough to serve one’s first love. True passion and courage lead one to pursue the knowledge of what would truly serve.

The pursuit of this kind of knowledge, like any pursuit of knowledge, doesn’t happen in an instant. You have to be open to learn in life. You have to be open to grow and mature in every way, not just physically and mentally but emotionally and spiritually, if you want to serve the highest values. You have to have the courage to create a new world, not because you just start building it but because you’re willing to entertain a vision that things could be different from the way they are, because you entertain that new world in consciousness.

I think of the title of Barack Obama’s book, THE AUDACITY OF HOPE. You have to have the audacity to entertain in your consciousness that the world doesn’t have to be like everybody else has made it. It gets re-created here and now in my consciousness. It will be like this, like this pattern that I’m touching in my heart and in my thoughts. That’s audacity. It will be like this; it will no longer be the old way. It will be like this. I will make this world anew. I will let it be born anew in my consciousness. And because I’m willing to let it be born anew in my consciousness, I will stop acting as if it’s the old world.

I’ve had plenty of experience of people coming up to me and saying, in effect, “Don’t you know it’s the old world? You’re living in the old world. This doesn’t fit in the old world.” If I wanted to be really blunt, I would say, “That’s right—it doesn’t!” It fits in the new world, which I’m creating. Let’s create it together. And I will act in the context of that new world. I will give it form and body in my living. I will create forms that reflect that new world. And I reserve the right to see it all new again tomorrow, all new again in each moment.

That’s what it means to be walking between worlds. That’s what it means to be very consciously living beyond the space-time continuum, as I was speaking of it last week. It means having the courage to acknowledge to oneself, “I’m getting information.” I’m getting information here, not just information from my external world—I’m getting information from the world that transcends the space-time continuum, from that place of origin that’s creating this space-time continuum.

So I want to be the feral angel who has the audacity to think and create, imagine, envision, and let all things be made new.

“Acknowledgment of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom.” It is such a hackneyed phrase, such an old-fogy kind of phrase. And it’s true!

My experience in witnessing people who are wise is that if you get close enough to them and really find out how they’re holding their world and how they’re holding their own consciousness, it’s like that. They are acknowledging that they don’t know. They’re approaching life with a freshness. I’ve been amazed, speaking to an expert in a field, who I thought had it all figured out. My experience is that’s not how it is for them. When I’ve gotten close to a person like that, I’ve found an openness in an almost childlike way.

The corollary to that is that you can meet people who are not so wise in an area, and you most often see exactly the opposite: they think they know. It’s sad, because if you think you know, you’re not going to be open to finding out.

If you want to know about something, how would you go about it? There’s one very obvious way to know, and it is to ask. You can ask of the invisible. You might ask of a neighbor. There may be people around you who know what you don’t know, and if you were willing to admit you don’t know, you might be open to asking the person near you.

We’re not meant to invent everything all over again ourselves. I’m very interested in going to the smartest person in the room around whatever the topic is. Do you ever find yourself doing that? Go to the smartest person in the room about whatever the topic is. For me, I’ll be at their feet, learning what it is they know about whatever field is in focus.

There’s a lot of knowing right here in this room. If all the knowing that is in this room were available to all of us, how would that be? And I’m not just talking about the intellectual kind of knowing, the how-to kind of knowing. I’m talking about the spiritual ranges of knowing that are in this room. There are people in this room who know things. What if all that knowing that is present were available to you and to me? Maybe it would be if we asked. So I’m asking.

David Karchere
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