U: Unimaginable, Unknowable, and Unexplainable
Breathe in, the unimaginable
Breathe out, the unknowable
Express the unexplainable
How will you know what your abilities are, until you try to develop them? How will you imagine what is unimaginable until you try to imagine it? How will you know what is unknowable until you try to know it? How will you know what is explainable until you try to explain it?
Un-Able: (1) not in position to do something, (2) not capable or talented, (3) not good at learning, (4) not having a certain ability to do somethingThere is a story, known throughout time in all cultures, about people visiting an old wise man who tells them the same thing every time: that they can all fly. They cannot imagine that they can fly. They do not know that they can fly. He cannot explain to them that they can fly. Yet, we all can.
Perhaps we really are unable to literally fly like a bird but there are a lot of things we may be able to do that we currently don't believe we can. Perhaps before we are able to learn and do anything we have to imagine it is possible and we are capable and able to do it.
When people tell me they are unable to do something, I simply ask if they want to.
Unimaginable: (1) beyond imagination, (2) inconceivable, (3) unbelievable or beyond belief, (4) unthinkable, (5) undreamed ofImagination is closer to intelligence than educated knowledge. The latter only repeats what others have seen and said, the former seeks it for themselves.
An image is literally a mental visual picture. Perhaps the unimaginable is simply the belief that we lack the ability to create a visual representation of what we want. Imagine that.
In the dojo, we are taught to relax and breath, keep our weight on the underside, move from our one point, and extend ki. What does that mean and how do we do it? Create in your mind an image (visual picture) of the body standing straight up and down, with the structural alignment of your bones holding you up. You don't need muscle to fight gravity, the body will do it itself if you let it. Gravity will naturally bring your weight to the underside and settle in the center of your body. Ki (energy) will follow your focus. As you focus on your body alignment, your relaxation, your breathing, and your center, your body will follow where your head follows if you imagine the unimaginable. Extend your imagination into your body and then extend it further (perhaps in the direction towards the goal you want to accomplish).
In life, there are things that are unimaginable. What can you not imagine yourself being, doing, or having? We may have defined our sense of self based on what others have told us they could not imagine us doing because they cannot imagine themselves doing it. That would be their imagined limitation, not yours (unless of course you unconsciously identify with it). To expand who we are in life, we have to imagine beyond the limits of the learned ego identity. The limits of our learned ego identity are only the limits of our imagination. Imagine being happy, successful, prosperous, and extremely proficient in the effective and efficient strategic principles and tactical application of required and necessary skills to obtain any goal you want.
Can you imagine knowing what you do not know yet? At one time, just the ability to read this article would have been beyond your imagination.
Unknowable: (1) impossible to know, often because of being beyond human experience or understanding, (2) something that cannot be known, (3) not having the ability to identify, realize, comprehend, or recognize somebody or somethingAs a counselor I often ask questions of my clients. At first I did not understand when the only response I would receive was "I don't know". I would sit there waiting for some sort of internal cognitive or emotional search to find a deeper answer. We sat in silence. I finally figured out they were waiting for me to ask the next question. So I'd ask what happens when they don't know something. After a pause, they would usually say "Nothing". I finally figure out that when many people don't know something, their journey ends and they sit with their not knowing. Out of curiosity, for me, don't knowing is where the journey begins. There are many things I don't know yet … but give me time.
In the dojo, to receive instruction we must first empty ourselves of ego and past learning. As long as we think we already know, we will never be able to learn anything new. For many people, not knowing is a very fearful place. For others, not knowing is a very exciting opportunity and experience. We often talk about shoshin (beginners mind) and Mushin (empty mind). It is humbling to step on the mat as a beginner, a white belt, after years of training in other arts. In the old days, it is reported than no one studied Aikido until they had reached some rank in other styles. Aikido was not a place to start; it was a place to evolve to. Perhaps we need to stop training to fight other people and to step on the mat being mindful that the real fight is within us. Learning the physical techniques of a martial art is easier than overcoming our own learned ego identity. Yet, every time we show-up, dress-out, and bow-in there we are with another opportunity to not-know and learn something new.
In life, we tend to want life to be stable and predictable. We plan and we schedule. We want to know what is going on every day of every minute. We may not be good at time management or sequential thinking, but we don't like not knowing. We know life is not this way. We know that human development and evolution is based on a process of normal and natural, constant and continual change and transitions. We often wish and try to believe contradictory in opposition to what we actually know. When people tell me they do not know something, I ask one of two questions. The first is to find out if they really do not know (ignorance) and how to begin the process of finding out (knowing). The second (and most common) is to find out if they really do already know but deny it because they don't like what they do know.
Many practices are based on quieting the chatter of the learned ego identity (that we learned from others) and the social gossip (that we imitate from the world around us) so we can hear the silence of what we all already know. An example is if we quiet the mind, we all already know that we need to stop using intoxicants and fear based violence that is problem oriented and start coming from a more intelligent compassionate place that is solutions oriented.
Unexplainable: (1) not having the ability to give details or make something clear, (2) not having the ability to justify or make understandableIn the dojo, we often have a rule about not talking or explaining too much. We tend to go by the "steal this technique" orientation that suggests if we do a physical technique long enough, with enough repetition, we will finally figure out how to do it correctly. We will finally figure out from the physical how to transform the cognitive and emotional into something spiritual. I have never been that intelligent. I appreciate it when someone at least attempts to explain to me what they were doing (moving, feeling, thinking).
In life, I need to get my mind, heart, and body to become congruent. Many of us believe that behavior is motivated by feelings and feelings are created in our mind (thoughts). I know that it is romantic to believe that we should negate our thinking and follow our feelings living in the present. However, if those feelings are created by fear based immature ignorant thoughts, that we learned by identifying with the limits of someone else, we may cultivate, facilitate, and perpetuate a life of scarcity and suffering. The best explanation that something is possible, that we are able to accomplish it, is to model and express it in life. A picture is not worth a thousand words if I do not know what I am looking at or for.
Perhaps sequentially having an explanation of what is knowable and imaginable is the first step to having and expressing it in our lives.
Breathe in, imagine the un-imagine-able
Breathe out, know the un-know-able
Explain and express the un-explain-able and un-express-able
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation and Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and his martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is a professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains and teaches at Kyushinkan Dojo, Roswell Budokan.
Re: U: Unimaginable, Unknowable, and Unexplainable
A good column!
For more in the vein of "not knowing", I can recommend:
Something to study rather than something to read...
Re: U: Unimaginable, Unknowable, and Unexplainable
I like Ralston's work. Read several of his books. Will put this one on the reading list. Thanks for the recommendation.
Yes agreed ... "not-knowing" is something to study, not to accept.
Knowing we are ignorant (knowing we don't know) creates an openness of mind and heart.
The more we know, the more we know we don't know.
Any more thoughts anyone?
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