J. Randall Ory
09 - Our Three Centers of Knowing
Updated: May 18, 2020
If you’ve been keeping up so far, and are feeling like I’m just addressing all this personal transformation stuff in an overview kind of way, you’d be right. There’s so much more to say about all of this, but it’s important to establish a foundational understanding before we try to step out and grasp all this on a deeper level. So, if you think I’ve not done a good job in explaining the three Centers of Being, personal transformation, and modern contemplation, you’d be right. Believe me, there’s a whole lot more to say, and lots of practical application in all this. So, hang in there, keep an open a mind, and let’s dive into one more big concept before we try to put all this together. That last concept is…., wait for it…., our three Centers of Knowing. Insert drum hit here.
As I’ve already hit upon, our three Centers of Knowing are body, mind, and heart. It’s easy to confuse these with our soul center, which is the conscious self where much of the stimulus from our Knowing Centers register, because that is where we think and feel all these things. But don’t confuse the conscious effect for the cause. The three Centers of Knowing produce the data which gets dumped into the soul center. The soul is the place where the data surfaces, and is recognized. Think of it like the ear verses the sound. The sound is the raw data, the ear the thing that enables us to hear it, and the brain that which organizes it into meaning. This is how the three Centers of Knowing work with the three Centers of Being. Our Knowing Centers provide data, which registers in the soul, which then is organized into meaning by our body and spirit. When we think or feel something, we must recognize that this is not the source of the thought or feeling itself. This is an important yet difficult distinction to make. It’s difficult mostly because we see ourselves primarily as a mind directed body. We tend to over identity with our minds and bodies, and over simplify our identity as a body with a mind. When we do this, we lose a real sense of who we are, and how we were intended to operate. What this can do is lead us to believe that we are our thoughts and feelings, and that our thoughts and feelings are directing our bodies. This can actually happen, when we allow it, because we have not developed the ability to sift through the data and discern what is worth keeping, and what to do with it. In this way we can become mindless thought machines, simply reacting to our thoughts and feelings through our bodies without a good ability to identify the source and meaning of our thoughts, before we decide what to do about them. If we do not understand where our thoughts and emotions come from, and why, then we will not be able to discern what they mean.
Each of these three knowing centers have what we could call their own intelligence and emotion, IQ and EQ. All three have their own mind, if you will, and their own kind of sensation. You operate with the body IQ all the time. It’s what can be called habit memory, or muscle memory. You literally do not have to think (with your mind) about so many things you do. You simply know how to do them. When you drive a car, ride a bike, write, draw, or any number of other learned movements, you do so without thinking, because your body remembers how to do it. Here’s a good experiment to prove this. Try doing anything with your recessive hand that you normally do with your dominant hand. You’ll find that what comes easily for your dominant, you have to think about to do with your recessive. That’s because your body has its own memory and mind. And, your body has its own emotions too, which normally register as bodily sensations. How many times have you felt anger, fear, anxiety, or stress in your body? That’s your body’s emotions. Your mind knowing center also has its intelligence and emotion. Here we can identify with thinking much more easily than feeling, but the mind can also feel. One of the strongest feelings you might encounter in your mind would be disorientation. But your mind experiences fear, stress, and many other feelings as well. They often easily translate into thoughts, but if you pay attention, you’ll recognize that there is an energy behind many thoughts, a kind of pressure, like a feeling. If you’ve ever suffered from obsessive thoughts, then you know what it’s like for the mind to be pressured by its own form of feeling. Then there’s the heart knowing center, which has the opposite issue. We can readily identify with our heart’s feelings, but not as much our heartfelt thoughts. But make no mistake, your heart has felt wisdom as well. It’s just that this understanding and feeling in each of the three knowing centers registers in its own, unique way, according to each center’s specialty. Why is all this important? As we begin to recognize through which center the data is coming, we can more readily understand the source of the data, what it means, and what to do with it. When the heart is communicating something to the soul center, it does so with a certain nuance for certain reasons. The heart center is in charge of our heart life, and mostly communicates to us concerning heart issues. The heart center will help us understand what’s going on with ours or others emotions, in order to address emotional issues, and grow into greater emotional health. The same is true with our minds and bodies. It’s important, when data is coming in, to stop, recognize the source, and ask the three questions I’ve already mentioned earlier. Those three questions are, 1. Where is this coming from, 2. What does it mean, and 3. What should I do about it. When we start to get into the flow of this practice, we’ll start to grow in wisdom about ourselves, others, and the world around us. We will learn so much more about how we work, and why. That’s the point. The progress of personal transformation is fueled by becoming more personally engaged with ourselves. When we know ourselves better, we will be more comfortable with ourselves, more centered in ourselves, more content, less riled by others actions, and better able to relate to others on their terms. When we know ourselves better, we can focus more on knowing others, and less on ourselves. That's the goal of transformation, from selfishness to selflessness. Getting in tune with the distinct nuance of each Knowing Center will begin to help us do that. But it doesn't stop there.
Remember, these three Knowing Centers are just the originators of data. They produce, or intuit, raw information. Sometimes that information comes from these centers, sometimes through them from the outside like inputs on the sound board. The sound board, then, directs them to the speakers (A.K.A the soul being center), which then makes them visible for the body or spirit Being Centers to interpret. The problem with the predominance of the mind/body, which can lead to the dimming of the other 4 Knowing and Being centers, is that we can become reacters to the data, instead of interpreters. We can get in a mode of assuming the data is real, right, and needing a reaction. that is not always true. Becoming sensitive to all three parts of each center, and being able to put them together holistically, helps us more than we realize. It enables us to begin to sense things beyond the rational and physical, and to be fully engaged in every part of ourselves; body, heart, mind, soul, and spirit. As we grow in this ability, we find that we are living from more from our center, and more fully engaged in the world around us. When this happens, we begin to understand on a deeper level who we are, and for what we were created. And then we begin to know a kind of contentment and fulfillment like never before.
Sounds simple, right! I don’t think that at all. I think, by now, all I’ve done is construct a system which sounds good, and seems like it could work, but which may make no sense to you at all. In your practical, everyday experience, it may seem like you are, in fact, just a body and mind. Even more, this mode of living may actually be working quite well for you, in many ways. I’ll admit, the paradigm I’m trying to establish isn’t often what seems to come naturally to our human experience. This idea of expanded being which I’m pitching may not sound that appealing, or make that much sense. It wasn’t until my own life went terribly wrong that I was ready and willing to see that how I’d been living, predominately through the mind/body identity, was not working. Sometimes, as far as we can tell, it does work. But that’s part of the issue. When we grow up in a world dominated by the mind/body paradigm, it’s no surprise that we struggle to see life beyond these terms. In other words, just because you’ve been trained to do life through a certain system, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything more, or anything better. Remember Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? The truth is, if all we have through which to frame the world is a set of skewed frames, then how can we step back from those in order to see that they are are skewed. It’s difficult, to be sure, and it often takes an experience like mine, a breakdown or some kind of suffering that reveals our life in different terms, in order to begin to expand our consciousness. There’s a reason this process is called enlightenment. It’s like we’ve been stumbling around in the dark, and then somehow, someone turns on a light and now we have an expanded ability to see what we could not before. And that’s where contemplative practice comes into play. Contemplative life, if you remember, is all about establishing a real, vibrant, and personal connection with the God energy of the universe. It is that God energy that makes this kind of enlightened transformation possible. God is that larger frame to which we can pull back in order to see the twisted, broken nature of our smaller frames, which naturally leads to healing and transformation. You have to first see that something is wrong in order to begin to make it right. As long as things seem to be working, we’ll just keep going as we always have. My own journey of enlightenment came in recovering from a breakdown, but it was not a work I did on my own, for myself. I described it earlier as a Divine light illuminating things for me, helping me understand myself and the world in a whole new way. I just want to be clear. This is not a self-help system. There is no way for you to do this by yourself, for yourself. It takes God to make it happen, and it takes an intentional, sustained effort to reconnect with God. It won’t work any other way. If you think about it, that makes sense. Any self-referential system is incapable of this kind of change. We are, by nature, relative to ourselves. That is, we can’t help but relate everything back to ourselves, and measure everything by ourselves. But what if something in ourselves is wrong? What if the very measure we’re using to gauge the goodness of our lives is skewed? Doesn’t it make sense to say that we cannot make a crooked system straight by that same crooked system? Of course it does. So, I just want you to keep in mind, through all of this, that even when what I say makes sense, it’s not something we can implement and work out through our own sense of things. We need contact with someone higher than ourselves to pull us up and out of our relative, self-referential system in order to see that there is something higher, and something more.
Whether we realize it or not, transformation begins with something outside ourselves. That’s what Contemplative practice is all about, and it is a practice. Modern Contemplation is about practices which helps us move outside of ourselves, in order to get in contact with life on a more universal level. In many ways it is a movement from the “I” to the “Us,” from individuality to community. We’ll get into the details of some of those contemplative practices later, but for now just understand that this is not a system of more knowledge which still leaves us in control of the process. This is a process which takes us out of ourselves, and puts us in contact with something higher than us as individuals, even higher than humanity as a whole. My hope is that, despite what you may think, feel, or believe about a higher power, you will be encouraged to expand your receptivity and openness to this experience. I certainly don’t expect you to do this the way I have. I’m not trying to convert you to my way of thinking, or to some kind of religion. I’m not even trying to make you believe in God the same way I do. What I want for you, most of all, is to live life to the fullest, to be thriving, content, and happy. I believe this is only possible when we are more fully engaged with all of our Centers of Being and Knowing, as directed by the Divine energy which births and sustains all life in the universe. You have to decide how you come to that Divine energy, how you think about it, and what works best for you. I will be offering how that works for me, because that’s what I know. You can do with that what you want. My hope is that we can learn how to walk together, as a global human community, without needing to convert each other to one way of believing and thinking. When we can seek the good of others, without needed to convert them to our own personal preferences, then we know that we all as humans are becoming more what we’re meant to be. That is my goal. I hope you keep walking with me as we learn from each other how to do this.