Witness

639. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Sometimes I think the greatest power of a teacher is nothing more complicated than the power to witness. What is it to be present with a person and to see them? See their curiosity. See their desire to be seen. See their need to pursue. To hold space for another person’s discovery is to offer them a great gift; to behold their encounter with the unknown gives them an ally, a companion. What could be more potent than to ask, “What did you find?”

My greatest teachers never answered my “how” questions. They’d shrug their shoulders and responded to my question with another question. They helped me to keep looking. They fed my curiosity. They would not allow me to orient according to their perspective but required me to develop my own perspective. They required me to orient from myself, to seek guidance from my inner compass, not theirs.

They taught me an important lesson that I am only now beginning to understand. Learning is not about knowing anything. That is worth repeating: learning is about not knowing. Learning is an endless engagement with mystery and has little to do with expertise or fact or certainty. There is always another layer. There is always another question. Learning is how you address yourself to the mystery and particularly the mystery of yourself. Ultimately, the most important thing you discover is yourself. There is always another tier to uncover.

They taught me to practice “not knowing” and, in fact, they helped to understand that “knowing” is a kind of defense against being seen. Having to know the answers and needing to be right are types of armor; it is the need of a right answer that keeps us separate. As someone recently said to me, “thinking that we know cheats us.” It shuts off the pursuit. It blunts the discovery.

The capacity to see begins with being seen.

2 Responses

  1. another amazing offering, thank you

  2. Beautifully said…..I am learning to live into the questions rather than answering them.

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