DocBug wrote up a great post, discussing how he has been trying to “translate” the spiritualistic beliefs of some of his friends “into a form that a philosophically-minded but skeptical materialist like myself can accept.” I think this is a fascinating topic, because I’ve been on a similar journey. The more I learn, the more I find out that I can learn anywhere.
I mentioned this in my review of Carnegie – that when I first read it, it didn’t mean anything to me, but upon revisiting it after having learned many of its lessons the hard way, I really appreciate it. I have a feeling that I will be having similar experiences over and over again in the coming years, as I finally get what is really going on when people are talking about certain things. I’m growing more adept at making the connections, at having a mental framework in place so that I can even process the input. For instance, as I’ve started to care more about management, I’ve noticed that it is _everywhere_. The techniques that I read about in business books are the same techniques that my stage manager friend uses to deal with actors and directors are the same techniques my friends use with their children. People are people, and the techniques by which they are managed are pretty universal. Heck, you can even meta-analyze things like religions to observe the same principles (oh wait, I already did that).
Even things that I completely dismissed when I was younger, I’ve started to catch a glimpse of what they’re trying to express. They express it in frou-frou mystical language that I think is bogus, but the general ideas are sound. There’s a reason that things like religion and spiritualism persist; they serve fundamental human needs. And once I understood that, it became very interesting to start meta-analyzing and deducing what the needs are, how human society benefits from institutions that put certain behavior restrictions in place in the case of religion. They also present fundamental human truths. The language of the Tao Te Ching is a bit obscure, but there’s a lot of wisdom in there.
Another thing that is becoming more interesting to me is the different perspectives people have. We can all see the same set of events and have completely different interpretations. For instance, my recent move to New York. Some would say, “Wow! You’re so lucky that you got that job!” Some would say, “Congratulations! All your hard work paid off!” Some would say “Everything aligned – the universe was trying to tell you something.” Some would say “It’s a sign from God!” Same events, different perspectives. And it’s not even clear that any of them are wrong. I think I like Miles Vorkosigan’s interpretation the best: “Chance favors the prepared and all that. Fortunately for my credit, from the outside most people can’t tell the rapid exploitation of a belatedly recognized opportunity from deep-laid planning.”
Hrm. This isn’t really cohering the way I had hoped it would when I started this. I guess the point I want to leave with is this: I’m starting to edge towards the belief that when I don’t recognize the validity of a perspective, it may not have anything to do with the perspective itself – it may just mean that I am not yet in a position to understand it. It sounds awfully new-agey of me, but there it is. There are lots of perspectives out there, and if I can learn to be more humble, I can stand to benefit from most of them.