Expanding Rules of the Knowledge Game would give problem-solvers greater leverage over a wide range of social-political malfunctions, from budget deficits to crime (legalized theft included).
A wider field of accepted information options would give a broad new range of diagnostic tools for pinpointing origins of unjust discrimination, inequitable wealth distribution, work-place violence, addictions and mental-emotional depression. It would give a new face to healing PTSD and preventing suicide.
What these personal, social and political ills have in common is a fatal knowledge deficit.
But before defining Rules of the Knowledge Game (epistemology), I’ll share two examples from personal experience. They’re comical, but they demonstrate the basic mistakes people make on limited information.
The first occurred when I was 6 and my brother David was 5. We were living in Tuscon, Arizona at the time. A blond-haired playmate age 3 who lived down the street adored David. Jason pleaded with his mom for a hair cut just like David’s. He expected the change to transform him into the likeness of his idol. But he came home from the barber streaming tears of childish disappointment.
The brush cut didn’t change his hair color from blond to David’s dark brown, nor did it transfer any of the desirable qualities associated with his hero to Jason.
The second happened when I was in my mid-20s. Rooming with a yoga student in Madison, Wisconsin, I was increasingly troubled as more and more of my stuff – kitchen utensils and even clothing – went missing. When I asked Mukit (her initiate name) if she knew anything about this, she explained why she felt free to take whatever she wanted.
“We are all One,” she said. By her logic, it followed that my stuff was hers too.
These are just small examples of the twin mistakes that continue to repeat when our reality maps aren’t complete and accurate. Writ large, they generate crimes and tragedies in every area of life, on every scale of magnitude.
What is lacking is the two-directional, in- and out-breathing reality map which accounts for all dimensions of personal experience and puts them in prioritized perspective.
Today’s prevailing Rules of the Knowledge Game exclude vitally important components of the human condition. Here, “Rules of the Knowledge Game” refers not to philosophical inquires into truth, but rather punitively enforced social-political taboos which prescribe what can be known, by whom, and how.
These rules stipulate what kinds of knowledge are allowed as well as others that are prohibited. Knowledge is sometimes made off-limits to second-class citizens (low income people, for example). Subtle ways of obtaining information (intuition, conscience) are written off as non-existent or invalid.
Here’s the tacit logic behind limiting the field: “Knowledge is power. IF I want to hoard power (and the resources it yields) in order to control others, THEN I must deny others access to knowledge that would empower them.”
To heal the harm incurred by limiting what can be known (ruling out the senses, intuition and conscience as valid information sources), it is imperative to reintegrate these decision-making influences into the rules of what is acceptable.
Currently, rules of empirical science dictate that only knowledge about material, tangible, observable and quantifiable objects is valid. Only university educated, degreed and certified “experts” using standardized research methods are qualified to obtain and disseminate knowledge. Here’s the picture of the hollow shell allowed by these rules.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this approach to obtaining information is invalid. In its place, on the surface of material appearances, it is an important piece of the knowledge puzzle. It’s a necessary balance to the opposite and equally exclusionary “religionist” mistake of elevating inward experience to the exclusion of the material world.
BUT, however necessary, it is not sufficient.
Throughout his lifetime, both in personal experience and professionally, the pioneering Swiss analyst Carl Jung dealt with the suffering caused by squeezing the richness of life experience into this hollow mold. As a matter of personal sanity and social health, he advocated “individuation” as a process for reintegrating all the layers and levels of life into conscious awareness.
The Life Wheel compliments Jung’s work. It can be used as method to assist in this process of making the unconscious conscious, of restoring access to inner knowing that has been repressed by socialization, including education.
Here is a picture to show you what I’m getting at:
On the outward path, the individuation process differentiates the individual from the universal center. It integrates timeless unity with the outward layers of idea, energy, action and results. This was the reality check Mukti needed – a correct picture of where my personal boundaries began and hers ended. We are one at the center, but not on the surface. It was NOT okay for her to take my things.
On the inward, return path, the individuation process reintegrates personal, separate identity with awareness of the timeless, universal source. This is what Jason lacked – a concept of his own inherent value, independent of the people. events and circumstances around him. The qualities he admired in David weren’t defined by physical attributes. Looking on the outside for the inherent self-worth he already had on the inside was a sure recipe for disappointment.
What is needed to change the Rules of the Knowledge Game is access to a useful reality map, one that includes the whole of human experience, one that is easily converted into a practical diagnostic and decision-making tool. That is the purpose of working with the Life Wheel. It can easily be personalized to ask, “Where in the Wheel Am I NOW?” — “Where Do I Intend To Be?” — and then decide – “How Do I Get from Here to There?”
Expanding Rules of the Knowledge Game to match the whole of life can be a matter of life or death. For example, just as 3 year-old Jason tried to acquire my brother’s virtues through imitation, David, in turn, copied his dad. As a Yale grad, David chose to become a physician, following in the footsteps of our Harvard-trained cardiologist father.
David too accepted the scientist’s belief that exclusively empirical science can explain everything. He dismissed other approaches to knowledge as ignorant superstition. He rejected as quackery my quest for deeper knowledge about the origins and purpose of life.
I dearly hope when when faced by extreme adversity, he’ll not, for lack of inner awareness, make the same choice his medical role model did.
When we first found out in the year 2002 – 50 years after the fact – that Kirby hadn’t died of a sudden heart attack (as we grew up believing), that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the back of the head, my younger sister Annie was instantly reminded of a haunting poem by Edward Arlington Robinson.
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim. . . .
. . . he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without meat, and cursed the bread.
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
This poem dramatizes the saying, “Appearances are deceiving.” The key difference it illustrates is this. Those who endured external adversity by patiently waiting for the light survived. Whereas Cory, who seemed to “have it all,” lacked awareness of the inner resources needed to cope with hidden suffering.
Without the confidence that comes from inner wealth, all the riches in the world cannot withstand the despairing, dark of night of the soul.
In sum: the first front against suffering remains knowledge. Knowledge – complete and correct – is the beginning of empowerment. Ultimately, changing the Rules of the Knowledge Game is matter of personal as well as human survival.
I’ve shared a few examples from my own experience. What are yours?