“The more educated a man the less he knows.”


artwork (c) Terrence Booth Jr, Pima Artist

There is an old Pima saying– I heard many decades ago “the more educated a man the less he knows.” I have been pondering that quote a great deal most especially as I look at the huge graduate loan debt I will be paying off over the next decade or even as I contemplate pursuing a Ph.D. Does more education really make us smarter? If we are smarter do we really know more about the wisdom of human engagement or living a life of happiness? Do educated people have a corner on the market of authority and definitive fact?

Well sure, expertise does come in handy especially for those required to complete a complex responsibility. Those who have studied rocket science or understand the mathematical or scientific complexities of launching a rocket ship to the moon are invariably much more capable than me or the average human being when it comes to scientific smarts but does exposure to education or higher learning really make us better human beings or more useful?

The older I get– the more I seem to question everything I have been told or taught. I have witnessed over the past few decades brilliant people make some very illogical decisions. I have been aghast when “enlightened leaders” make cruel edicts and powerful politicians desecrate communities simply because they believed their perception was factual or right or felt they had the power to assert their will.

Don’t get me wrong if I ever needed spinal surgery or brain surgery I would immediately go to the very best and the very best is a gentleman like K. Abbed, MD Neurosurgery Chief, Yale Spine Institute. I would trust Dr. Abbed not only for his incomparable technical expertise but I believe he is the kind of human being that also brings his intuitive sense and compassion to his calling as a healer. Dr. Abbed seems so much more “balanced” than most exceptionally brilliant human beings because his compassion inflates much larger than his vast educational expertise. I was in the “spine industry” for over a decade and the most capable seemed to be the most balanced–the same thing holds true in the leadership arena.

Maybe that’s it—perhaps we have become so dependent upon our textbook expertise whether it is leadership, human resources or politics we have forgotten to serve as Dr. Abbed exemplifies with a diverse balance of common sense, life experience and knowledge. Being brilliant is not just a piece of pretty (albeit expensive) sheepskin we hang proudly on our wall but being truly wise is utilizing information with a balance of intuition, spiritual connection and our heart. I believe the heart is as critical as the brain in making a balanced decision. Perhaps that is what our Pima friends are trying to tell us–observe and live before you proclaim to know. For me, real knowledge involves the heart as much as it depends upon our gray matter and important decisions require that we utilize all of our many gifts including the spiritual or take the time to shore up the ones we lack and that is not always more textbooks.

I share all of this with you because very recently– I feel the spirit of life beckoning me to be still. I can barely hear the distant musical melody from my ancestors that requires me to listen more deeply. It has become increasingly difficult to hear the song. There has been so much noise as of late blasting on social media and the television airwaves. I cannot even find a moment’s peace with my IPhone wrestling for my attention at all hours of the night trying to deliver to me what Professor Tim Wu label’s as intentional distractions.

The “Attention Merchants” surround us from every corner and are desperate to engulf every bit of our brain space and focus. Dr. Wu quotes psychologist and philosopher William James, who “held that our life experience would ultimately amount to whatever we had paid attention to.” Lately– I have become completely distracted by the attention merchants but I cannot just blame the media or marketing hounds or even politics for that matter—I have lost my focus from distraction. I spend much less time in meditation, contemplation and prayer. I am always rushing from this assignment to the next. I am a great cook but oft-times cannot recall what epicurean delight I just ate. I am eating but–I am not tasting, I am traveling but not going anywhere seemingly different because I am not pausing to enjoy where I traveled. I am meeting people and yet not taking my time to connect as deeply or in more meaningful ways–so important to me. Why am I in such a rush to get through life? Who said I had to rush?

I used to pride myself on living a life of “Ichi-go, Ichi-e” one moment, every moment is a Japanese four-character idiom that describes a cultural concept of treasuring meetings with people. Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki taught me to cherish any gathering that I may take part in, citing the fact that many meetings in life are not repeated. Wikipedia insists the concept is most commonly associated with Japanese tea ceremonies, especially tea masters—but actually history taught us that the noble Samurai professed allegiance to “living life to the fullest” therefore giving their all in every battle. I got to confess it was the core of my being and I have no idea where it went? I am losing the essence of me. I am not taking my time to savor each and every moment of life.  It seems I am always in a hurry to know more, see more— do more and yet I am learning less. I have lost the beauty of the moment, I have lost the wisdom of contemplating the experience. I don’t want to lose the exquisite flavor of the Joie de vivre of my life.

In the past year, I experienced one of the most horrendous challenges of my life. This event caused me to question everything even the value of my existence. Like a warrior preparing for battle–I am in a battle for my soul. I must center. I am going to be less social on social media and more in the moment. I am returning back to that which gives me peace. I want to hear the melody being played by the ancestors on ancient instruments.

Please–this is by no means a judgment or instruction for others but simply a sharing of my heart. I HAVE to do this for me. Creator is calling me back to a time of silence. God’s song is like no other to me and so why would I not want to listen? Creator’s melody is certain in my spirit. God’s beckoning draws me like no other power on earth. Creator wants my FULL attention to show me what I cannot learn in text books or by scouring the vast internet information highway. I cannot explain it–other than–I have always heard this song from the first moment of my awareness. It is the peaceful melody of a beautifully played hand crafted Native flute or the gentle but resilient Japanese Shakuhachi. I must follow the music—because the melody brings me tremendous strength and peace. Perhaps in moments of quiet I will discover the knowledge I seek and the wisdom the Pima beckoned. I do not want to be so vastly educated if being educated means I can no longer hear the melody and I lose my heart.

Blessings–always from my heart,

Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato #risetoexcellence

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