On how I really don’t know what I’m talking about – the seeking of inspiration, ‘active knowing’, and character

I’ve always said that I really don’t know what I’m talking about.

This is true.

Most of what I say is not really what “I” think.  This is because most of what I say comes from what I call ‘inspiration’.  This means, basically, that it comes from ‘nowhere’.  I say what comes to me ‘off the top of my head’.   A great deal of my thoughts come out without any prior reflection at all.  Often, it seems that they are coming from somewhere else and I am only the ‘medium’ of its expression.   It’s not uncommon that I have no idea what they mean.  In fact, it can take me awhile to find the meaning in the thoughts.  I always thought that odd, having to “learn” the meaning in my own thoughts.

It shows that “I” often don’t know what I’m saying.

In many ways, I’ve found myself taking a similar view as Socrates who said that “I know that I do not know”.  Though me and Socrates have a similar point of view, we go about it from opposite ends.  He uses logic and reasoning to show that we don’t know what we think we know.  Much of what he did is to show other people that he really did not know what they think they knew.  This eventually became the ‘Socratic method’.

I, on the other hand, don’t use logic or reasoning at all.  By seeking ‘inspiration’ I let things come out as they come out, in whatever form they come out, regardless of logic or reason.  As a result, there is no logic or reason at all.  I do not “make” a logic or reasoning in what I say.  Usually, you would think that thinking ‘off the top of my head’, without any logic or reasoning, would lead to things that are ‘random’ or nonsensical or babble.  I have found that this is not the case.  They have an order, a logic, and a reason in themselves that as if comes out naturally without any effort on my part.  This is part of the power of ‘inspiration’.  In other words, the logic or reason just “is” and the order just “happens”, as if by a natural order.

Instead of using reasoning to find the order, as Socrates did, I actually have to ‘sense’ the order and let it come naturally.  What ends up happening is not a ‘logical discovery’ but a ‘realization’.  This makes it so that “I” do not create it or come up with it . . . the thoughts just happen, the order just happens.


Anyone can say what comes to them ‘off the top of their head’ but ‘sensing’ the order is something else.  That’s a skill that one has to attain.  In a way, ‘sensing’ the order is everything in ‘inspiration’.  Without it, there is no ‘inspiration’.

It seems that there are two ways to ‘sense’ the order:

  1. Intuitively.  Here, a ‘something’ tells you there is an order.  Typically, it is an unspoken ‘sense’, without words or logic . . . you just ‘know’.
  2. Logically.  Here, you logically see an order.  This usually requires a ‘reasoning’ of sorts.  I consider this to be inferior to the intuitive sense.

I tend to feel that the intuitive sense is what one really seeks in ‘inspiration’ and is where all the fruit is gained.  The logical sense is something that comes ‘after’ the intuitive sense, making logic take on a more secondary role.  In the end, though, both are needed, but the intuitive sense is the beginning of it all and the source of all the material one gains.

The general idea is to let the ‘sense’ move you.  Like a dog, once you find the ‘scent’ you follow it.  As a result, much of this is nothing but following a lead generally without a clue to where its going or whats at the end.  Often, ‘hunches’ or ‘feelings’ are what dictate where one goes, even though it may defy logic and common sense.

I often feel this continual ‘walking into blackness’ takes far more courage than people realize.  In fact, I feel this would halt many people in their track, though they may not realize it, and is a major wall that would be confronted.  The apprehension of walking into blackness can cause a number of reactions and dilemma’s that can cause much turmoil and conflict, such as:

  • Feeling empty
  • Being bored
  • Bringing up unpleasant feelings
  • Fear

These can stop a person in their tracks.  These are common reactions to the seeking of ‘inspiration’.  As a general rule, any logic or reasoning does nothing to solve these problems.  Often, they appear as a sign to ‘look deeper’, often into areas we don’t want to see or are apprehensive about.  The ‘looking deeper’ can require great courage and strength to surpass.  These show how ‘inspiration’ becomes a “great inner inquiry” into oneself . . . making it a far difficult task than what it may, at first, seem.


In the end, Socrates logic and my ‘inspiration’ ends up leading to a ‘knowing’ of sorts.  Both of us started with “I know that I do not know” but ended up with a something “known”, a “particular form of knowing”.  But, more importantly, what we find is that it is the process that becomes important, not the end result.  This fact seems to be forgotten with Socrates, as everyone is usually only emphasizing the result of the process.  In actuaLity, it is the process that’s important.  In other words, what we are seeing is a process which shows that the process of revealing the “knowing” is more important than the knowing itself.  The whole ‘Socratic method’ is based in this act, this revealing.  This is what made Socrates so ‘profound’.  The end result, in a way, was nothing but the ‘by product’ of the process.  This is no different with ‘inspiration’, that the process of revealing is more important than the end result.


Once the process of revealing has been achieved there is a “particular form of knowing” which comes about as a result.  There seems to be two forms of “knowing” that comes about:

  1. Negative knowing – Knowing that I do not know.
  2. Positive knowing – Knowing something as a result of the process of revealing.

The former, really, is the awareness that there is so much beyond us, that there are things above us.  As a result, it is sort of spiritual in context, leading to a spiritual sense.  It is very general in quality.  Positive knowing is the specific knowing that the revealing reveals.  As a result, it is very specific and particularistic.  So we can see that the revealing creates a spectrum of “knowing” from general to specific, unknown to known.

“Learning”, in this society, is generally viewed as a process of going from negative knowing to positive knowing.  When this happens the negative knowing as if disappears, ceases to exist.  In other words, it’s generally taken that we want to move from negative knowing to positive knowing exclusively.  As a result, negative knowing (or not knowing or being dumb or stupid) is looked at in a bad light.  I have always felt that this was silly.  In many ways, it leaves half the picture out. In many ways, it shows that there is a unique quality about ‘knowing’, that it’s not enough to just ‘know’ things . . . there’s more to it.

I speak of the process of revealing as ‘active knowing’, that knowing is an active process, something discovered, as an active and on going process.   In other words, ‘knowing’ is the active act of revealing.  This makes it experiential, something that is happening.  As a result, ‘active knowing’ is momentary and fleeting.  Because of this we continually seek this ‘active knowing’, the momentary act of “knowing”.  This process is going on endlessly.

‘Passive knowing’ is just ‘knowing’ something, like memorization.  In many respects, it is ‘dead’ and inanimate.  You can bring it up like looking up a phone number in a phone book.  It is static, as if sitting there, and is constant.  It is not discovered or revealed.  Because ‘passive knowing’ is ‘dead’ it is often worn like an ornament, and people often “decorate” themselves with it.  It is not uncommon that people will use ‘passive knowing’ to convince others, and themselves, that they are ‘learned’ and many people equate it with ‘educated’.  As a general rule, ‘passive knowing’ is what consists of ‘education’ in this society.

The difference between active and passive forms of knowing are often seen in some of the expressions I use, such as:

  • When I speak or think of things I often remark that “they are just thoughts”.  That, of course, is said after I have said them, generally on reflection.  Once they are “said” they become ‘passive’ and, therefore, ‘dead’.  This is why I speak of them as “just thoughts”.
  • I also say that the thoughts, that I write down, are nothing but “the footprints of my thoughts”.  That is to say, they are whats left over after something has ‘gone by’.  This is just another way of saying they are ‘passive’.

These show that I tend to look down on passively knowing something.  Once you just ‘know’ something (passive knowing) it becomes degraded-like.  This is because it’s an inferior form of knowing or that’s how I tend to see it.  

“Real knowing”, it seems to me, happens when they come to me as an active experience.  When this happens the thoughts are ‘alive’ and ‘living’, they have just ‘come into being’ and are ‘real’.  It’s when this happens that certain things can happen:

  • A profoundness can take place.
  • A realization can take place.
  • A transformation can take place.
  • An alteration in conception can take place.

It is in the state of ‘activeness’ that the ‘power of knowing’ takes place.  It can change a person.  This fact is what makes active knowing so powerful.  This is because ‘active knowing’ is a becoming, a creation.  ‘Passive knowing’ is like a recitation or remembering.

Of course, we all need an element of ‘passive knowing’.  When reflecting or thinking about things I have to use ‘passive knowing’ . . . it’s often a beginning . . . but it’s not the end.  ‘Passive knowing’ is like a reservoir and that is all, a place to draw things from.  It is something you use.  In other words, ‘passive knowing’ is often used to push oneself into ‘active knowing’.  This makes ‘passive knowing’ secondary and more of a ‘helpmate’.

This is probably why when I sit doing nothing (that is, with no active experience) I tend to feel that I am stupid and dumb.  At that moment I am stupid and dumb as nothing is happening, there is no active knowing.  As a result, I have become stagnant and, in a way, ‘dead’.


As I said above, the power of ‘active knowing’ is in the fact that it can be profound and change a person.  This shows that ‘active knowing’ can have a direct impact on who one is, ones self.  In other words, its power is that it has an effect on what I call ‘character’, which refers to the inner qualities of ones self and its manifestations.  This makes it so that ‘active knowing’ is more than a ‘knowing’ – information – but a deep interior manifestation and transformation that can have great impact on a person.

What this more or less says is that ‘active knowing’ is a seeking of an ‘inner transformation’, the altering, and development, of ones character.  Because of this, it is associated with growth and health.  As a result, I tend to feel that the real benefit of knowing is not “knowing” but the formation of character. 


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Education and learning, Inspiration, free association, and intuition, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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