To Know and to Be Known


There is a key question relative to our understanding of ourselves and the world in which we live: Do you want to know? When you meet another person, do you want to know them? Do you want to know me? Do you want to know what is happening within yourself? Do you want to see?

So often people say they want to know, but they don’t really. They meet another person and they judge them. They look only on the surface and create an assessment based on that. They are content to live, for the most part, in an opaque world in which they see the surface of things but they don’t actually know what is there.

We have a choice when we look, as to whether we want to see and know. We each have that ability. In fact, there is so much that we already know. Often we do know, but we are unaware of our knowing. Some part of us knows, but consciously speaking we don’t want to know, because it is seemingly easier to live in some other way. It seems to be easier to live in a way that pretends not to know, and then judges.

In the four-day course we just completed at Gate House Spiritual Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, we had two days of considering the role that blessing and understanding play in our life.

These words from the song Nature Boy capture the experience of blessing:

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.

To love and be loved in return… This is blessing—such a primal experience for any human being. It is all about allowing love to flow to the heart.

We do have an ability as human beings to make life sophisticated, complex and hard. And yet the most important things are actually very simple, or at least they come down to something very simple: It is just to love, to allow the flow of that, to find how to release that flow in all things. Blessing is releasing it through yourself in expression, and then it is receiving the same.

Or course, that has a lot to do with the human heart and what is happening there. It has to do with the quality of Universal Love, the power of the Universe, the power that is in all things, that is in all people. So blessing is the flow of that love. But the flow of love doesn’t become very interesting to us as human beings if the heart isn’t involved—if it is not landing in your own heart and through your heart to others, and if it is not coming back to your own heart. And all of that requires an openness of heart, a willingness to expose the heart to that flow and then let it move. This is a primal thing in our human experience: To love and be loved in return.

The experience of understanding is captured in these words:

To know and be known.

What is the basis of understanding? Understanding begins with the heart—with one’s own heart and the hearts of others. Do you want to know? There is so much that registers in the field of the heart. If you see and know what is there, you are seeing a whole world.

What is registering in your heart? Perhaps you are feeling your last meal and your mood is affected. Everything that is occurring in your body is registering in your feeling realm, as it is for anyone. So if you are willing to see the heart of another, you are actually seeing into something that is connected to their physical body. You can have an intuitive understanding of what is happening physically for yourself and for others if you are willing to look upon the heart and see and know. Who wants to know?

There is a culture that we are living in, and there is a culture of the entire world in which we live. Culture is reflected in the emotional body. Inescapably, we each carry that culture in our heart. We are connected at that level to the culture in which we live. When we meet another person, we are meeting that culture. We have a chance to know that culture. Do we want to know? Are you really interested?

There are two primary elements that create understanding of the heart. There is a feminine dynamic of simply holding the heart of another without judgment in a consciousness of unconditional love.

There is also an outgoing masculine dynamic characterized by interest, curiosity and exploration. Are you truly interested? That is different from prying eyes or some kind of judgmental examination or interrogation of another. That is sometimes how it goes for us as human beings. Tell me—I want to know! But with curious, loving interest we explore what is present in another without demand.

The heart opens up when it is not being interrogated and it is not being judged. Do you want to know, or do you want to judge? If you want to judge, the heart shuts down. So if you don’t want to know the people around you, just judge them, because they will close up for you and you won’t have to know them, and you won’t have to deal with whatever is in the recesses of their heart. You won’t have to see what is present in the depths of the human soul if you can just judge and critique people based on what you see on the surface.

So do you want to know? Are you curious? Are you creating a safe space where the heart of another person might show itself without danger, without risk of you criticizing, without you judging them? Without you seeing that person in terms of how they affect you and your life? You have to be in a safe space of personal nonjudgment and deep self-love to create a safe space for another.

We had a good consideration in our course around our tendency as human beings to personalize everything we see. We personalize when our perception is based on how someone else is going to affect us. Or when we relate what is right in front of us to some experience we had a year ago, and jump to the assumption that it is the same. Oh, this is that kind of person.

If we personalize, we live in our own little bubble, not actually curious about what is really there. And then we wonder why life has a sameness to it. It doesn’t seem to change because we are not seeing what is there, only our repetitive story about life.

Did you hear about the person who moves to a new town? They ask the next-door neighbor, “Tell me, how are people here?”

The neighbor asks, “Tell me, what were the people like where you lived last?”

“Well, that’s why I left! They were all gossiping and backbiting, nobody got along, and they were all in their own little cliques.”

The neighbor responds, “Yeah, you know, I think you’re going to find that people here are pretty much like that too.”

People complain that life stays the same, often because they are living in a personalized bubble and not encountering what is really happening. They don’t want to see and they don’t want to know. They are just telling their story about other people and about themselves.

Really seeing another person has remarkable results because there is something strange and wondrous that happens to the human heart when it is seen and known. When somebody sees you for who you are, perhaps they see parts of you that you didn’t even know about yourself. They are seeing the stature, the character and the love that is there. They are witnessing your beauty and tenderness, and the good intention that is present in your heart, perhaps not yet fulfilled. If someone comes along who is seeing that of you, there is a magic that transpires.

We have an opportunity as an individual to create and cultivate a field of knowing that is a field of light. If we are generating that field, then wherever we go, the people around us will tend to feel that they are seen and known.

Don’t you think that the culture in which you live would benefit from a field of knowing that sees past the conflict, the limitations and the stories, and sees into the heart of people, calling to the depths of the human experience? At that level we are connected. At that level we are at peace. At that level, there is the presence of the highest love, perhaps latent but nonetheless there.

Here are words from a beautiful song Bette Midler made famous, From a Distance, with lyrics by Julia Gold:

From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land
And it’s the hope of hopes
It’s the love of loves
It’s the heart of every man.

We sometimes have a proximity that gets us all involved with what is happening, with no space to see. They say familiarity breeds contempt. It can happen in families. And with community and with all kinds of relationship. It doesn’t have to, but it can. Oh, I know this kind of person. People from this background are like this. Familiarity can breed contempt.

There is a right proximity amongst us all, and we are closer to some people than others in an outer sense. We spend more time with some people than others and we obviously can’t be with everybody in physical space all the time, so there is rightly a pattern to how we are together with other people.

But what is the reason for that pattern? What is the motivation? Is it based on real vision and insight into the field of the heart in which we are participating? Or is it based on the common human story? Oh, I don’t like these people. These are that kind of people. I’m not going to be near them. I like this person; they make me feel comfortable. 

There are natural patterns of association. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are all connected at a deeper level, whether we are together on a certain occasion or not. There is a deeper pattern of connection and knowing that we can live in. And when we greet another person, we can greet them with a knowing of that deeper connection. Do you want to know it? Or is the design in which you are living defined by the way you take things personally—selecting one, two, or three people that you are willing to know a little bit?

There is such a great need in our world for a real understanding of what is present in the human heart. With understanding, we see all the wounding and all the scarring, all the hurt and all the pain. But that is only part of what we see. There is something deeper to be seen as well, and our world is in such need of the knowing of that depth.

When we are in a state of openheartedness, with a willingness to know and be known, we are entering into a different way of being together. Then we have the field of knowing that we are sharing to bring to the world. We become curious about that world. We want to discover it; we want to see its unfolding pattern.

This is a core function of humanity—to bring conscious awareness to this planet as a whole. This has to go global. But we have to want to know; not necessarily because we are doing research, or because there is some kind of interrogation going on, or because we are making an assessment. I’m talking about a kind of knowing that is different from that.

The reality is that there are all kinds of human resistance to this experience and a tremendous tendency to judge instead of know. If you are judging, you cannot know. You don’t see. What you know is your judgment. You don’t actually know what is happening. When we face that, we realize there are hearts hiding all around us. The doors of the heart close in the face of judgment.

Become curious about your own heart and what is going on for you there, and then become interested in others. Our real knowledge of others is a gift. To be truly known is a wondrous thing, is it not? When somebody knows you for who you are, they don’t stop with the outer face of personality, or the outer face of culture. They want to know you. We all have that gift of knowing to give.

If I could, I would really love to get a commitment from you to stop the judgment and come through to victory with other people, so that we can get on with the vision we have to bring to the world. Don’t you sometimes have the inclination to ask that in whatever circles you travel in? To ask, Would you please stop it? Function differently. Have the courage to allow yourself to be known. Know others, because you are willing to truly see them.

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fiona Gawronsky
Fiona Gawronsky
April 28, 2018 1:01 am

When I was seven, I attended primary (elementary) school in Exeter, in the south-west of England. In my class of 45 boys and girls, was a very mixed social group, from slum housing estates to the middle-class neighborhoods. I felt an outsider but the outdoor playtimes provided an open opportunity to engage and mix with others; skipping and ball games, hide-and-seek, role-play games, rhymes and songs. There was the culture of the playground; and a headmaster, a north countryman, who one felt loved us all. Despite the legacy of a Victorian building and outside toilets, there was a new, more creative impetus in post-war British education; it was a happy environment to grow up in despite all the cultural difference.

In retrospect, I am grateful that this experience came to shape my life and give me insights into ‘other’ people and their backgrounds.

Thank you, David, for taking this a step further. I know there are still parts of myself which remain guarded, which keep me at some distance, still, from integration with my fellow man.

April 27, 2018 7:49 am

Thank you for this beautiful reminder of the great truths that we shared on the Primal Spirituality course last week. It really has allowed me to ‘stop it’ and allow myself to be seen and loved, as well as to really see and love those that I come into contact with.
Profound thanks.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x