Minimalist knowledge: Life on a need-to-know basis

One of the themes I keep coming back to is simplicity.
Looked at minimalism of my physical possessions, the clutter that is around me, having clear, open space physically.
And could also look at that in the clearness of time, having not too much clutter filling time, so that there’s open space in time, not trying to consume too many experiences and just fill up time with everything.
And maybe the the next frontier, or just another frontier of that, that I hadn’t thought about before as much, is just even within my own mind, the clutter of knowledge.
The clutter of things that I “know”.
Now, the word “knowledge” covers a lot of things and overlaps with something like wisdom, where we really know the the most important things, and we have some idea of the best way to live.
So I think wisdom is really the true knowledge.
That’s the true- the things that we really should know.
Knowing how to live well.
That’s the core knowledge that I think has great value.
But then there’s just so many things that we know that I begin to question how useful it is to know all these things.
Now, it feels good to know things.
And I have this weakness, especially just collecting trivia, knowing all kinds of things, and then it makes me feel good that I have some kind of obscure knowledge.
But I can see how it can become a little bit foolish, or a lot foolish, to sort of have this notion that we know a lot.
Because it really has a parallel with having a full space.
Like having a full mind, full of knowing things, is like having a room full of objects.
And possibly it’s missing some kind of opening in order to learn new things, in order to become aware of things that we didn’t know about before.
And you could use the metaphor of the air pressure.
Like when you have high pressure air, it doesn’t let anything else in.
If you have the vacuum, then it lets other things in.
So if we’re full, whatever we’re full with, we tend not to let other things in.
Whereas if we have a certain emptiness, then we let things in.
Now, we don’t want to be complete vacuums, completely vacuous, and just let anything fill us.
But I think there’s a room to have just a certain space of just saying that I don’t know, and to just be okay with not knowing many things, and really just letting ourselves be aware of what’s happening around us.
So that if I don’t have that sense of “I know”, then I can just be more neutral and more open to simply seeing what’s really there.
Because coming to a situation with a sense that I already know what it’s all about: well, not only does it make it hard for me to actually learn more about what’s really happening, because I already think I know, but also it kind of just makes things a little bit more boring, too.
Because imagine if we really believe we know and we have a good idea what’s going on, then it just seems like the things that happen every day, they just seem very predictable.
It’s like “Oh, I knew that was going to happen.
No surprises.
No, everything’s just as I expect.” And even going into every situation expecting that we know “Oh, it’s going to be- yeah, there might be a few little surprises, but it’s basically going to be within this range of things that I expect and I already know.” And so everything kind of becomes fixed and set in stone, and we possibly even become blinded to what’s actually going on.
It makes me think of the difference between a child and adult.
Maybe as we get older – well, one of the many differences in mindset – is the adult mindset is more of a sense of a fixed idea of what is going on in the world, the way the world works, what’s happening, what everything is, everything has a clear place, and we know exactly what it is, or close enough.
So everything just becomes kind of fixed.
Whereas imagine for the state of mind of a child, that when you’re experiencing something, if it’s completely new, imagine what it would be like to just see ordinary things.
Like the ordinary room around you, or the people you know: imagine you were seeing them for the very first time, and you had no idea even what category they’re in or what type of thing or person they are, or whatever it is.
You just have no idea, and you’re just completely open to seeing this thing as if for the first time.
And maybe that’s connected to the idea of having that kind of childlike wonder and openness to the world.
So yeah, I think this could definitely be taken too far, and we simply forget everything we know.
Obviously knowing things can be very useful.
But I think there’s also a place for simply letting ourselves be mentally empty, and just say to ourselves “OK, I have no idea what this is”, and have that sense of complete freshness.
And we may be surprised by what we see.

#minimalism #simplicity #knowledge

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