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  • Writer's pictureDavid Beers

It’s all been said before

It’s all been said before

It strikes me as humorous that every time I think I come up with a new and creative spin on something, I read it somewhere else. Or it comes up in a class or on a podcast. I know that it doesn't mean that I didn't have those thoughts independently. Instead, the question is, did they arrive from a natural, logical sense of following a set of particular ideas? Have I heard/read these ideas before and forgot that I knew them? Possibly these ideas exist transcendently available randomly to anyone open to access them?

That brings up the idea that there is some vast universal set of knowledge and wisdom not connected to anyone but all humanity collectively. Expanding that thought is this vast collective of wisdom merely available to humankind, or does all of Creation, the universe, have access. Could Creation/the Universe be this library of understanding? Certainly, that seems to be at least a possibility. The idea that Creation in and of itself is a revelation of the Creator or the Divine.

If Creation is, without words, revealing truth, then it is available to all creatures. Sometimes it makes me think that the non-humans parts o the collective of living things understand and utilizes this wisdom far more than we as humans do. And as humans, in our ignorance of Creation's wisdom, then make it more difficult for the rest of the universe to understand because we force Creation to adapt to us. In a way, humanity has scribbled over the revelation to the point where this knowledge has become somewhat illegible.

Of course, this can't wholly happen because humans always forget that they are a part of Creation, and therefore any attempt of revising or eliminating the message is impossible. Over time all that scribbling fades away, and the only thing scarred is humanity itself. The universe must smile to itself, like any parent of a willful child, scold them and restore things to their proper order. Creation has a beautiful way of simply overriding anything that humans do to the point where the restoration process is sped up and intensified.

I think we can agree that humans can intuit and even infer incredible amounts of wisdom and knowledge by observation. This way of understanding happens so much that we have a name for it. Humans call it science. As humanity extracts knowledge from the created order, Creation expands this wisdom and releases it back into the universe. Although, often, humans misinterpret and misunderstand. Even in error, the understanding expands as the universe begins the process of correction.

Outside of the natural order, wisdom seems to come from "out of the blue." Those things that humans seem to know without knowing how they know. Transmitted knowledge may be passed from one generation to the next, from one people group to another. Mathematics in the western world seems to follow this route. Europeans credit the Greeks for much of this knowledge and yet forget that Egypt and the Near Eastern empires were using mathematical concepts centuries before Greece existed.

There could be another route for the release of knowledge. It could be possible that there is a genetic and cultural memory that allows wisdom and understanding to move forward in humanity's timeline. In some sense, this idea becomes problematic because there is no precise way to test this using traditional methods. Yet, family members, parents/children, siblings, cousins, etc., even if they do not share the same environmental spaces or proximities exhibit this tendency. Is a genetic predisposition only a random chromosomal mutation that connects us biologically to our ancestors? Or is that genetic mutation shaped by our ancestors' environment to the point where those differences manifest in future generations? It is quite a question and to which I have no answer.

Another source of collective wisdom is less tangible. That makes humans even more uneasy and skeptical. This school of thought is especially true in European thinking since the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries. These philosophers put to death all transcendent sources of wisdom and knowledge in academic scholarly writings. Only the human brain interprets the environment around it and interaction with other humans could be the source of any understanding at all. And yet, up to that point, and continuing, in other traditions in different cultures, that is not the case. Those cultures see the revealing of knowledge and wisdom as an act of the direct or indirect intervention of transcendent powers, performing special ceremonies to open the seer up to divine revelation to hear those other voices that were not human.

Could this transcendent voice be supernatural beings that benevolently (or sometimes maliciously) share knowledge with us? Is there something divine inspiration? Did the ancients know something when they spoke of the influence of the Muses? Many religious texts refer to prophets and seers being spoken to by divine messengers called angels today. This communication to humans by sources from outside the natural and visible order has been accepted for most of human existence and documented in the earliest writings of human civilization. Another question asks if this extraordinary communication becomes limited by religious status, divine relationship, or even connection with the proper rituals.

Finally, there is the thought that the collective of wisdom is not solely limited to its revelation through the creative order. It does not belong to gods or angels. And even human knowledge and understanding can ebb and flow with the rise and fall of civilization. Could there be another source? Possibly there is a collective mind of humanity. A mind shared across time and space—more than merely a literal library or data based on gathered knowledge. But an actual conglomeration of wisdom through the ages to which all humans have access? Some people might call this wisdom from ancestors or knowledge from past lives. These could be some of the answers. not everyone learns the same information or has the same experiences; not everyone lives in a time or place where specific information is available. This sharing is more than just the spiritual connection to humans of the past, whether biologically or previous incarnations. There could be a universal and transcendent collective mind of all wisdom and knowledge. It could just be waiting for someone to access it. It suggests the whole idea of something just popping into one's head. Being able to come up with the idea that you never had thought about and then discovering it somewhere else. Even shared memories of human events and history beyond the telling not limited by time or space—memories sharing these things beyond human connection on a physical level to the point where it becomes metaphysical.

I wonder about this. How do I know what I know? When did I learn it, and did I forget that part? Could it be that wisdom—that understanding has always been available and merely waiting to be accessed by a mind that becomes open to it? Possibly could this collective wisdom and knowledge may not be static but proactively reaching out and searching for open minds? Once again, the ancients personified Wisdom and Knowledge. They were not merely inanimate abstractions to be obtained, hidden treasures uncovered. It could even be that they are the unexpected guest who brings a timely and useful gift. They could be that miraculously found treasure that serendipitously shows up at the right time and place.

Whatever the source and wherever it lies, wisdom and knowledge can be tools for progress and healing or weapons of destruction and damnation, depending on their use, even in the sense that they are both, at the same time. With each step forward, there is the possibility of a step back. Benefits come at a price, and setbacks bring with them lessons. Nothing is truly good or evil, holy or demonic. Humans are responsible for what we do with what we know and not excused for not knowing. In the attempt to learn as much as possible, there must be judgment in using any new wisdom and knowledge. It can bring paradise, and it can bring hell. And that is all I know.

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