"Understanding is spiritual," my mentor said once. I remember my eyes got huge and my jaw dropped as my brain said, "Well shit. That's true, isn't it?"
When I say understanding, I don't mean knowledge. It's not information. Understanding is not processed by the intellect, but rather recognized by something deeper within us. While gaining knowledge seems to be a task I can apply myself to, understanding looks like something that happens beyond my personal volition. I can't make myself understand something, I can only set my intention to understand. That "click", that moment that takes me across the line from the world of information into the world of understanding, I do not truly know where that comes from or how it happens. And so, for lack of a better word, it does indeed look spiritual in nature to me.
Another way in which it looks spiritual, is that it seems to me that seeking to understand something will solve any problem you may have with it. You see, when you understand, there is nothing left to fight with or argue over. There is no room in understanding for contention. When you understand something, there is nothing left to think about at all. You either do something with it, or don't.
Indeed the only reason we ever struggle with anything (or anyone) is if we do not understand it. If you can set your intentions toward understanding, not in order to agree or disagree, not to pacify or judge, not to prove rightness or wrongness, but to purely and simply understand, that alone will change your life. Even if you don't actually reach understanding (that is beyond our control after all), just merely aiming in that direction will open up a whole new world for you to see. Asking for understanding implies that you do not already know, and that allows your mind to return to a “blank white page” on which something new can be written and discovered. That looks like some spiritual mojo to me.
And so it seems that the spiritual nature of understanding comes also with a side helping of grace. Solving every problem you've ever had, solving all the problems we have as people, is profoundly simple. Seek to understand. That's it. Imagine all the energy you'll save by not arguing, fighting, or disagreeing! All that debating, either inside our own heads, or out in the world with words - that is the only thing that keeps us stuck with anything. It keeps us stuck with old ideas, when it's the new ideas that will always move us forward.
The only challenge I am aware of on this path, is setting aside pride and ego long enough for understanding to have a chance to come through. That is the tricky part for all of us. What we already believe to be true is so seductive, and oh how it begs for our attention! But if we didn’t put all our stock in our personal knowledge, ease and understanding would be our natural setting. The good news is, the more you look for understanding, the more you see it, the more you understand, the more you look... It becomes easier and easier for you to recognize that the part of you that wants to argue rightness and wrongness is the least powerful aspect of you.
Now, if you really want to hit the profundity jack pot, first and foremost, seek to understand yourself. Not your personality, not your psychology, not your astrological sign, not your Enneagram or Myers Briggs type, but the you that exists underneath all of that. The part of you where the spark of understanding is recognized - before the ideas of that understanding are formed. That is the most fertile ground you will ever explore, because it is that part of you that is connected to the spiritual nature of everything. I highly recommend that journey.
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