Know what you (really) know

A few weeks ago Cara and i were talking and the subject of this blog came up. I really enjoy writing it and I feel like it has helped me to clarify my thoughts at times but there is something that annoys me. Its that I sound like a know-it-all, and not just on this blog but in person too there is some way i present myself that gives people the idea that im smug or think that i know everything. The reality, of course, is the exact opposite. I have learned a few things in my life and a very few of those things im pretty damn sure of, but the vast majority of things in my life are subject to change as i learn new things. And im always learning new things.

Im not sure why I come off that way, but almost everyone in my life who is honest with me has expressed some annoyance at this trait. It bugs me too. So how do i present my thoughts and ideas without sounding like I have all the answers? Im not sure, but its something im working on constantly.

One thing i do know is that this is definitely a family trait, my family is full of folks who are sure of what they know and are not shy about letting you know how sure they are. Perhaps its all a byproduct of being raised the way we were, my folks never ran our lives for us, they supported what we did 100% but they never ordered us to live a certain way or with certain beliefs. When i was younger I took this to mean that they didnt care the way i saw other folks parents trying to plan out every detail of their childrens lives, but as i grew older i saw the wisdom of what they were doing, the Lambert children (all six of em) would be fiercely independent, self-determined, and self-assured and i supposed its the latter that is the source of the annoying “I know that already” trait we all share.

In a lot of the old Buddhist stories I read it seems that the old guy was trying to insure that his listeners were not satisfied with pat answers and rote recital of his words. Over and over he admonished his monks to test his theories and to judge for themselves if they reflected the real world or not. It seems that he wanted us to be sure of our lives based on direct awakened experience and not on what others said reality was like. My problem is that when i have looked into a subject and come to a conclusion I tend to take that conclusion as the gospel, inviolate, unquestionable. The buddha i think wanted us to come to our own conclusions but he also warned about being stuck on your own ideas, in a way its like the scientific method. Nothing in science is ever a “fact”, they are simply the most reasonable solution until a better one comes along, this is what makes science so progressive, once a new theory is provable and demonstrable it becomes the new fact. nothing is ever above questioning.

So my challenge is to examine the world around me and come to my own honest conclusions the way my parents instilled in me but to do so without the cocky sureness that my one-sided view is the Truth with a capital T.

I hope my future posts will sound a little less know-it-all ish.

Categories: Buddhism and life | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Know what you (really) know

  1. Thanks for a great post. I have the same problem (presenting myself in a way that make it seem like I think I know it all) and of course it is not the case for me either. I am really trying to work on it.
    I’m reading through your blog in reverse chronological order, your more recent posts certainly don’t make you sound know-it-all-ish, in my opinion.

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