Every once in a while I have an opportunity to speak to a group of men. The topic that I love to talk about is the meaning and purpose of life. Often I will start those talks by asking how many people have read Pirsig’s Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I love the blank stares that seem to accompany the apparent randomness of such a question. I proceed to tell them that the book has much to teach us and it is worth the time and energy.
Pirsig raises the question of knowledge….how do we know what we know? Philosophers call this question epistemology. Some might answer that question by saying that someone told them the answer. Or some might say that they just know. Here they are referencing that body of knowledge called experience. Or, quite often it will be a combination of being told and experiencing the lesson, that allows them to reach their conclusions and their depth of knowing.
Pirsig would suggest that all of life is a series of chatauquahs. These ‘class room’ experiences that life seems to give us are the window of all knowing. To the extent that our experience lines up with the cognitive (head) knowledge we are acquiring….then we know, without a doubt.
What is most interesting about the classroom called life is that most any person can become my professor. That concept starts to change my encounters. When I see you as a professor, than it is critical that I investigate what it is that I need to learn from you. You are the teacher, I am the student and everything starts to change. I try to see the world through your eyes and I try to understand how you reach your conclusions, make your decisions and find meaning and purpose in your day. Implicitly, I am honoring and respecting my teacher. You, my teacher, will be valued.
Scripture encourages us to serve one another and to honor one another (Romans 12:10). Often, I am not sure how to do that. But when I start to see you as the teacher and I am the student, than my role is to learn from you….then I start to have a practical idea as to how I might love, serve, honor and respect you. You become the Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid2) in my world and both of our worlds are enriched.
Today, who are your mentors? Who are you learning from?….are you seriously asking the questions that allow the university of life to mold you into the person God has designed you to be?
Discover the teachers! Embrace the University of life. Amp the joy!