I have this theory that theories are utterly useless. Although they attempt to describe and predict a facet of reality, they never succeed. And because you can’t experience reality when you’re hiding behind your theories, they are effectively cutting off your connection with this reality.
Sure, theories are nice to try and explain things or to predict the effects of your actions and there are some really good theories out there, but have you ever predicted a future event down to the last details with one?
It’s all a bit vague, you get a push in the right direction but at the same time it primes you towards certain expectations about what the future will bring.
The gap between theory and practice
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” – Lawrence Peter Berra
A famous quote, read it again and let it sink in. Once you realise the truth of this statement you’ll start to see the ridiculousness of most courses, ebooks, and all the other things you can do form the comfort of your own chair, safely at home in total anonymity.
Online courses that “teach” you how to become a better -whatever-. It’s like a written course in bicycling. Try learning that one without ever physically touching a bike.
There is a way to close this gap, but chances are that you won’t do it most of the time. It’s actually simple: go forth and put to practice your theory. Without this translation, theories are even less useful than they normally are. They only serve as an intellectual exercise, something to think about.
This is the fate of most theories, they never get applied to life. They’re stuck in your mind, you “know” but you don’t actually know because you’ve never tried it!
If you do take the leap and put your theories to practice you’re bound to fail. It’s just a fact of life because your theories are flawed, you need to tweak them, revise or even trash them. But it’s the only way to to actually learn and experience.
Better would be to completely abandon theory.
Belief or experience
Let’s try something here. A quick experiment.
There are a lot of things you’ve been told by other people, read about, seen in some documentary and general hearsay and gossip. “It’s cold in space” is just one of those things. Do you believe this to be true? Or do you actually know this to be a fact?
How can you be sure, if you’ve never been there. It’s a safe bet for me to say that you haven’t been in space so you didn’t experience this first hand. So if you never experienced it, what is it then.
You believe it’s cold up there. You’ve been told by the Discovery Channel and so it must be true. But you don’t actually know do you?
If you’ve ever been to space and felt that it really was cold, you’d have the experience. You could genuinely say that it’s cold up there, you know it’s true because you were there.
What do you believe?
Now that we have made this clear distinction between belief and experience I’m going to ask you one small thing.
Of all the things you think you know, and that’s a lot, what do you actually know out of experience and what is just a belief.
You’ll find that almost everything you think you know is just a belief. You’re entire world view is based on beliefs, things you’ve been told, things you assume to be true.
If you want to grasp the truth, this is a very good first step to take. Shatter your beliefs and be honest when you don’t know.
Not knowing is actually a very interesting topic I’ll dive in to a bit more in my next blogpost. If you like where this is going, please do check it out. You can subscribe to my RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss out.