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The Illusion of Knowing
The Illusion of Knowing
by Lynn Seiser
07-30-2015
The Illusion of Knowing

Breathe in, knowing
Breathe out, knowing
The illusion of knowing

How do we know we know something (anything)?

Epistemology is the study of knowledge and how it is acquired as it pertains to belief, truth, and justification.

There are several sequential steps of knowing. First, we think we know something because we have been told so by some authority figure and obedience is obtained through conditioning/reinforcement of reward and punishment. We know what we think we know because we have been told it. Next, we tend to think we know something because it conforms to the conventional social norm or context we live in. We know what we think we know because it matches what everyone else thinks they know. Finally, we think we know something because it conforms to a higher principle of conscience, abstract reasoning, and universal ethics. We know what we think we know because it seems to be mutually applicable and in the mutual best interest of everyone.
Knowing: (1) indicating private knowledge, (2) astute, aware, (3) showing intelligence, (4) intentional, (5) meaningful, significant, perceptive, and expressive, (6) deliberate, conscious, calculating, (7) distinguishing, recognizing, identifying, discerning, (8) understanding, comprehending, appreciating, realizing, (9) experiencing, undergoing
In the dojo, we are at the mercy of what we think our instructors know. Since by definition we are the students, we seldom have anything to compare the knowledge or skill level of our instructors. That takes time, experience, and study to obtain knowing. So first, we simply do what we are told to do, because the authority figure in the gi and hakama of Sensei tells us. We believe whatever explanation (if any) is given. They are usually just passing down what was taught to them by their instructor. If we do the waza (technique) the way they tell us to, we pass the test and get the next color belt. If we do not do what we are told to do, we fail, and keep repeating the same level of training and understanding until it matches what we have been told it should. This is an important base stage of learning and knowing. First, learn the form before learning variations of that form.

In life, it is not much different. We do what we are told by our parents. Often they are perpetuating what they were told by their parents in a multi-generational transmission of roles and rules. Parents are in a position of unquestioned authority and we have faith and trust that they actually know what they are talking about and have our best interest and safety in mind. Since we learn what we live and mimic what is modeled, the identification with our parents becomes the basis of our own internalizes learned ego identity. We think we are this type of person because we have been told we are. We believe these are the rules and roles we play in life because we have been told to or reap the natural and logical consequences of rejection and the withdrawal of love. We believe we know something because we have been manipulated, programmed, and controlled into believing it. Time will tell if it is really true, successful, or in anyone's best interest.
Knowing: (1) indicating private knowledge, (2) astute, aware, (3) showing intelligence, (4) intentional, (5) meaningful, significant, perceptive, and expressive, (6) deliberate, conscious, calculating, (7) distinguishing, recognizing, identifying, discerning, (8) understanding, comprehending, appreciating, realizing, (9) experiencing, undergoing
In the dojo, after a while, we reinforce each other's understanding and application of the teacher says because we are now style/dojo loyal. This is the way "we" do it. We have identified and bought into a larger contextual consciousness and conspiracy of believing we know what we think we know. Mostly we do not know, we are repeating. This is a basic but necessary level of learning and training. It is the way "we" cultivate, facilitate, and perpetuate what "we" are.

In life, we often make mate choices and have relationships similar to our parents. We raise our children the way we were raised. When something, or someone, matches the internalized representation of our family of origin, we feel at home. Some will be drawn to this representation and repetition and some repulsed by it, but it will be the frame of reference by which everything is done.

In the dojo, and in life, we tend to think that truth is that which matches with the internalized representation that already exists within us based on prior living and training experience. We believe and trust that which matches and reject and distrust anything that does not. If it looks like it, sounds like it, and feels like it, then it matches and in it goes. Whether it is actually true or not is rather irrelevant.

In my professional training in neuro-linguistic programming, we played a game of counter-examples related with how we know anything. When asking how did we know when it was time to get up the morning we would be met with a counter-example of if we ever got up when that wasn't true. Of course, we all had. This would be continued though countless examples until we accepted we had no idea how we knew when it was time to get up in the morning. We would then process several (far too many) other examples. Finally, we would ask how we know who we are and begin to dismantle the basis of personal identity. This is where the fun began. (We also got into how the meta-programs and representational systems used to present what we think we know may be more important than the content. That would be another article, chapter, or book.)
Knowing: (1) indicating private knowledge, (2) astute, aware, (3) showing intelligence, (4) intentional, (5) meaningful, significant, perceptive, and expressive, (6) deliberate, conscious, calculating, (7) distinguishing, recognizing, identifying, discerning, (8) understanding, comprehending, appreciating, realizing, (9) experiencing, undergoing
Eventually in Aikido, we learn the physical techniques and the underlying strategies or principles. We learn the form and variations of the form. We learn that many teachers and styles do the same technique differently, yet they all work. Instead of doing a technique because it is what we were taught, we do it because it complies with some internalized philosophy and spontaneously presented itself without our conscious planning, thought, or effort. We thought we knew what we were doing, but followed the flow beyond and without thought.

Eventually in life, we learn to love. We begin to see through the family and social norms of roles and rules, and begin to express love in all we do. On one level, we were taught what we think we know. On the next level, we know we do not know. Finally, we all know what the truth is and what the right thing to do is. Once we find this level, we are no longer concerned with knowing it if we are not applying it to everyday life. Once applied, we do not need to know consciously. We quietly and contently go through life just doing it.

Breathing in, we accept what other people believe they know. Breathe out, we repeat and perpetuate it. How do we know what we think we know?

Breathe in, knowing
Breathe out, knowing
The illusion of knowing

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.
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Old 08-02-2015, 08:38 AM   #2
jurasketu
Dojo: Roswell Budokan
Location: Roswell GA
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Re: The Illusion of Knowing

Excellent essay Sensei! I've definitely come to believe that love should be the basis for all actions.

I have a mantra that has served me well for a long time: "Everything anyone knows is wrong or incomplete. Mostly wrong."

All paths lead to death. I strongly recommend taking one of the scenic routes.
AWA - Nidan - Started Aikido training in 2008
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Old 08-02-2015, 09:01 AM   #3
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: The Illusion of Knowing

Wow...my experience is a little different. What I think others know... I question.

In my 30's I became aware that making unconscious choices was harming me. My parents did the best they could. I did not want to repeat their patterns.

As for teachers, I learned what was taught and then made it my own. Aikido is transmitted though the carriers. Techniques and ideas that are un-examined become stale and limp. Aikido is a live art that grows though use.

Thank you for a thought provoking essay.

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Old 08-02-2015, 02:10 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: The Illusion of Knowing

Quote:
Robin Johnson wrote: View Post
"Everything anyone knows is wrong or incomplete. Mostly wrong."
Yes agreed.
I know that much of what I know is wrong or incomplete.
Yet, wrongs usually just means the other person doesn't agree.
Incomplete means the learning is not done yet.
Thanks for reading and responding.
Until again,

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 08-02-2015, 02:15 PM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: The Illusion of Knowing

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Techniques and ideas that are un-examined become stale and limp. Aikido is a live art that grows though use.
Yes agreed.
Many people do not like to be questioned and find a false security in believing that they know and transmit that "knowing" to others.
The Buddha said to never take what even he said without study and self-examination.
Perhaps our lives are more directed by the questions we carry (koans) than by actually finding the answer?
Any thoughts anyone?
Thanks for reading and responding.
Until again,

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 08-03-2015, 07:05 AM   #6
Derek
 
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Smile Re: The Illusion of Knowing

Lynn,
I find the more I learn the less I "know." Learning to learn is key to opening up the mind to all things. Specifically in Aikido as you learn the myriad technique, you finish with no technique but only possibilities. I think you "know" what I mean!

Derek Duval
Yondan
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Old 08-03-2015, 09:30 AM   #7
SeiserL
 
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Re: The Illusion of Knowing

Quote:
Derek Duval wrote: View Post
I find the more I learn the less I "know." Learning to learn is key to opening up the mind to all things. Specifically in Aikido as you learn the myriad technique, you finish with no technique but only possibilities. I think you "know" what I mean!
Old home week,
Yes agreed.
There is that zen story about the tea cup that is only use-full is in its empty-ness.
I may think I know something on one level, but that belief may prevent me from looking further and learner deeper.
There are many times I think I know what Sensei is showing me only to find out that what I thought/saw was no-thing like what he/she was teaching.
They say wisdom comes from accepting, appreciating, and enjoying that the more we know, the more we know we don't know.
Mushin (empty mind) and shoshin (beginner's mind).
Thanks for reading and responding.
Until again,

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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