“As we grow as unique persons, we learn to respect the uniqueness of others”. Robert H. Schuller
Last week, on my vacation I was having dinner with a group of special friends. These friends are affectionately known by many as “the grannies off the grid”. The grannies are three conscious, artistic, elder women who live on a beautiful piece of land in the Arizona desert. They live in sustainable, solar homes, which for the most part they built themselves. These women are an inspirational model of a future community that benefits many people.
On this particular evening, I was engaged in a conversation with one of these delightful, wise women about my identity as a coach and a businesswoman. With her 70 some odd year perspective she told me she had let go of the need for an “identity”. She preferred to think of herself as a part of All That Is, as undefined. Immediately, wanting to emulate her wisdom, I began to try on the idea of “letting go of my identity” for something that seemed “bigger” and more “evolved” to me.
Part way into my wayward fantasy, I realized, she had reached the fourth stage of Steve Bhaerman’s Four Stages Of Knowing. It was clear she belonged there and despite my wanting to be like her, I didn’t.
The Four Stages Of Knowing is a simple model for understanding human development. I originally heard about it by comedian Swami Beyondananda (Steve Bhaerman’s) on a metaphysical radio show. Originally meant to entertain, the Four Stages actually represent a profound view of the normal and healthy stages of human evolution. Here are the four stages:
See which stage you find yourself in.
1. You don’t know.
This is the stage when you’re a baby or a child. You’re fresh and new to the world and you really don’t know. It’s pure innocence.
2. You don’t know you don’t know.
This is adolescence; (and for some, well into the twenties!) that bittersweet time when we think we know it all. When nobody can tell us what to do. We’re bigger than God; we’re invincible and think we’ve got it all figured out.
3. You know you don’t know.
This is adulthood; your thirties, forties and fifties. When you’ve been seasoned enough by life and you begin to get humble; when you’re comfortable admitting your limitations and actually begin to see the gift in them. You start to relax here and can enjoy the grand mystery of life.
4. You know “I don’t know” is ALL you need to know.
This the final stage when life gets peaceful. When the undefined-ness of each moment carries you to exactly where you need and want to be. It’s the realization that emptiness is the space of all creation. It’s the end of confusion. It’s surrender.
That night at dinner in I found something incredibly reassuring about knowing you’re where you belong in the evolutionary scheme of things. I was about to tie myself into a pretzel thinking I should be something I’m not. When I realized that, I felt a huge wave of relief. I experienced the perfection and beauty of each delicious stage along the path including the one I’m in. The awareness was like dessert in the desert.
I shared my excitement with them about still wanting to identify myself. I expressed my passion about making my mark on the world. Sitting around the table, in the warm glow of their wise, nurturing attention they listened to me and I felt precious and loved for exactly who I am. Just as it should be.
It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!