Experience is the blindspot of understanding. In our education systems, we sit in bland classrooms, detached from the phenomena we're studying. Everything is intellectualised & abstracted. We read books, watch videos and view PowerPoint presentations created by someone else - who may or may not have experienced what they're educating us about.
📚 As we grew up, experience & play was replaced by intellect. Until you started school, playtime was basically all the time. But after entering the classroom, you likely had a maximum of 90 minutes “break” from intellectual lessons each day - merely a time to regenerate & eat before returning to learning.
Science prioritises theory and the experimental method above all else. Personal experience is just n = 1. As an economist and “Master of Science”, I’d always been doggedly rational and critical of “unscientific" experiential sources of knowledge.
🧪 But what if science got it wrong? Since my 10-day Vipassana meditation course, I believe experience is more important than intellect. Because experiencing a taste of the New Story confirms to us that an alternative way of being & relating is possible.
Over the years, I'd read various books about consciousness and the nature of the self. I thought I understood it. “Yes, the self is an illusion. You are not your thoughts. Okay, I get it.” But since my Vipassana, I’ve re-read Eckart Tolle's The Power of Now and Sam Harris’ Waking Up and now actually understand what "you are not your thoughts means." Why? Because now I've experienced ego dissolution.
On Day 6 of the retreat, I could focus on my breath for 10 seconds and then observe thoughts spontaneously arising, originating outside of what I believed was “me.” “You are not your thoughts, yes!” I felt a profound sense of deep truth.
✨ Experience impacts you deeply at your core belief level.
The intellect merely suggests fragile notions. But experience has the potential to produce a sense of certainty about the nature of reality. That's because lived experiences engage your whole being - body and mind. The physical sensation of burning your tongue on hot tomato soup is more believable than your parents warning you that your dinner is hot.
💔 Experiences shape your worldview far more than what you read.
Do you remember your first crush at school? How did that shape your view of love? How about the first book you read or series you watched about love? Sure, it had an impact. But I bet the teenage infatuation followed by rejection (speaking from experience here) was far more impactful than anything you read on paper or watched on a screen.
🌍 Why does this matter?
If we want to mature in consciousness to tackle existential crises, humanity needs to overcome outdated narratives. We need to transform. Experience carries this potential.
I recently reconnected with a friend who works with refugees. After spending months in camps, witnessing the suffering of people ravaged by the Old Story of separation, he'd lost hope. In focusing on the pain of the status quo, we can't imagine alternatives - one of the biggest challenges of progressive movements.
🔥 We need beacons of hope - lighthouses that shine into the darkness, helping us discover and embrace new ways of being.
That's why I facilitate & attend workshops and retreats. We can only understand and believe in the New Story, if we experience it. This motivates us to be the bridge towards a better world while healing the wounds inflicted by the status quo.
Seek out the New Story. Discover communities exploring aspects of the New Story that you feel drawn to. Places of presence, connection, love, play, creativity - the full abundance of life! Hipsy is a useful platform to find events in The Netherlands.
❗ One caveat: beware of confirmation bias.
With this decision heuristic, you tend to make meaning from your experiences that confirm your pre-existing beliefs. Reading a book about the patriarchy, climate change, or racism can be a vital first step to dispel intellectual Old Story myths. Combine this with experience. Otherwise, you risk going into experiences with minds colonised by the Old Story and merely perpetuating it.
🚀 Now over to you:
Trust the process. Surrender to the beauty of experience that life offers. Give your ego the necessary preparatory reassurance, but don't get stuck in theory. Go out into the world!
Do you really need to follow another training course or read another book before taking action? I learnt almost all of my coaching, facilitation & activism skillset while doing it. Fake it ‘till you make it!
💭 What experience have you been considering but haven’t dared to undertake?
What excuses are you telling yourself? Are these worth listening to?
Imagine that you never pursued these experiences. Perhaps your fear of regret can help you overcome your fears of taking action. Life's far too short to wait around for the New Story to come to you. Go live it.