(Repost of a post on Across the Abyss, May 8, 2014* with minimal editing and updating)
We live in a world, among people and animals and plants and streams and rocks and all manner of things. So we know where we live, right? We have a working knowledge of the place we live? You would think so, but this is far from a certainty. How we approach it, or don’t, determines both out experience of it and our knowledge of it. What do you truly know about the world around you? How do you approach the world around you? How do you approach the Land?
I would postulate that there are three main ways people approach the world around them. These might be a bit oversimplification, or they might adequately describe the human approach. My observation shows them to be fairly encompassing.
1) To Let the World Happen to You
In my observation, this is the most common. It is an approach of not approaching. Most people don’t approach the world, they let the world approach them. They go through life just trying to go through life, and learn of the world by how it collides with them, often in cross purposes to how they are trying to go through life. Their experience of the world is that of opposition, that which is trying to stop them, delay them, irritate them, upset them. As such, the world outside their skin becomes the enemy, something to fight against, the strive against. Whole religious doctrines have been built off this view of the world, and are a result of choosing not to approach the world, to let the world happen to you.
2) To Seek What is Known to You
This approach is a very academic approach. You start with what you know, what you’ve learned, what you believe, what you think is true. Your truth. You take that idea, and look for the proof in the world around you. If you find it not to be true, find proof that it isn’t true, or don’t find it where you expect to, you refine your idea, research a new idea, or come up with a new truth. Rinse and repeat. This is an abstract and symbolic way of approaching the world, because you start with something abstract or symbolic, something you believe to be Truth but don’t have the experience yet to apply, then test it and find what it looks like, or doesn’t look like, in the world around you. Much of the application of scientific method uses this approach, where the theory starts in the abstract and in equations or calculations, and is then tested to see if it is true. A lot of market research also takes this approach.
Unlike the first approach, this approach sees the world as a test bed, not as an enemy. The world becomes that which will aid me in refining my Truth, distilling it down to its essence. Truth becomes the driving force, and both that within my skin and without becomes the tools to obtain it.
3) To Observe the World and Find What It Teaches
The third approach is to assume nothing. Presume you don’t know anything and go out to see what the world will show you and tell you. This doesn’t mean dismissing what you know or not taking it into account, but observing the world and using it to understand what you already know. Instead of, I know the he East means this, so what does that tell me about it, this approach is to say, if I knew nothing about the East, and I look to it and think about it and observe what is there, what would I see, and what would that tell me about what I already know or think I know? Instead of, this is a green ash and I know these things about ash trees so how does that apply to what I’m seeing, this approach is to say, I know this is an ash, but if I did not and if I knew nothing about it, what would I see before me now, what would I learn, then, what does that say and show me about what I already knew?
In this approach, the world isn’t the enemy nor the test bed, it’s the teacher, showing us what is truly there. Our Truth is refined and distilled as a byproduct rather than the goal, the goal it to know the world, the Land, around us, to understand our place in it, and to learn what it would teach whether that is relevant to what we already knew or thought we knew or isn’t.
You can likely tell from my wording my thoughts on each approach, but I want to be clear, none of them are bad. We each approach the world the way we know and can, though if aware of how we do, we have the option of changing it. These three approaches are all acceptable approaches, and the results aren’t necessarily better or worse than each other, just different. It depends a lot where you want to go in life and what you are comfortable with.
That said, the third approach is the one I tend to recommend, the one I encourage when asked, and the one I try to take for myself. The results of it are the results I want in my life and in the world around me, and results I’m biased for when encouraging others.
What is your heart, where do you want to go, what do you want out of life, the world, the Land?
*Original post: http://muninnskiss.grimr.org/2014/05/approaching-land.html