We often use mountains as metaphors as our quest for human excellence and the pursuit of self actualization. Maslow’s theory of needs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs) already presents our needs in a pyramid, pitching the highest ideal as ‘self actualization’. As the triangle looked like a mountain, we can symbolically determine it as a kind of a challenge, a climb.
Similarly, in martial arts, we often diplomatically says, ‘there are many ways to reach the summit.’ which loosely means, we can train hard in Aikido, Karate, Kendo, and the ultimate aim is ‘satori’ (悟り), or enlightenment.
Surely it is an ideal pursuit, worthy of our effort. there is a caveat, i realised recently.
Are we climbing the metaphorical mountain, or are we building our own tower of knowledge instead?
One is the land, the other is the map to the land.
We are all living in a world full of information and knowledge, and yet, wisdom, is still lacking. We all study so hard, to earn our degrees, learned so much to know all that we can know, and yet, we get pissed off by the slightest provocation.
I’m not discounting that building a tower of knowledge. It take arduous effort, and one can professed an in-depth knowing of the hows and whys of a discipline, we become the proverbial expert, but that does not lead us up the mountain. We become experts, but we fail to become a master. More so, we are becoming more isolated by all our knowing, we know this we know that, so that is no more for us to venture for, since we already know what we know, if we don’t know something, we know where to go and find the answers. And hence, we build another layer on our tower of knowledge.
Knowledge does not lead us to the summit. Knowledge tells us, we can look out of our tower window, and gaze at the summit. No matter how high we build our tower, we cannot reach the highs of the summit, on the contrary, the high we build our tower, the more precarious it become, and it will topple in eventuality.
So in our modern world, all of us is in a tower. i can see that in the trains, in my work. Everyone knows a little about what they know, and makes a big deal out of it. People gaze into their iphones and computer screens and tippity tap on their keyboards (like what i am doing now) and think we know all there is to know about the summit. But all we know about the summit, is not the summit. It is the map, not the land. We think we know about people, we learn about people, and yet we suck at socialising. We are virtually losing our ability to connect with each other, since we are more interested in connecting with the net, with the system, with the apps.
We need to come down from our ivory tower, walk the land. Walk with one another, and head for the summit, know the terrain, the soil, the animals, touch and feel them. Allow them to touch and feel us back. Because true knowledge is not in the knowing, it is in the doing.