One of the many teaching tools is to say that I am reminding you of what you already know.
And as for any teaching, the question is when it may be helpful, and when not.
First, this pointer is obviously a supplement to other pointers. It gives a slight tweak to other pointers, inviting us to notice what is already here and not expect it somewhere else – in the future, in others, in the past, in a different state and so on. What I am looking for is already here, I just need to notice.
In that sense, it can be very helpful in many different situations.
There may be an awakening here, but not quite clear and embodied, and the pointer you already know is an invitation to notice and then trust what is already here. What we are looking for is not in the future, others, in a different state, but right here now. Other pointers give us more specific guidelines for inquiry, and this one is an invitation to sincerely look at – and trust as sufficient – what is here in immediacy.
Also, something may be true for us but we don’t act on it due to a (contrary) belief. In this case, you already know may be just the encouragement we need to trust it a little more and eventually act on it. (True for me right now.)
And if there has not been any awakening yet, you already know is – again – an invitation to look here. To not expect it in the future, in a different state, and so on.
Then, when may it be less helpful?
As with any teaching, it may be less helpful as soon as it is taken as anything else than a question and an invitation to explore for ourselves. For instance, if I take it to mean that my stories about anything at all are true and valid, it is obviously a sidetrack. A very understandable sidetrack but still a sidetrack. It is a distraction from a more sincere and honest inquiry into what is here in immediacy.
So as with any teaching, it all depends on how it is received. And when students are likely to receive it in a helpful way, the statement may be just right. If not, something else may be more helpful. Or this one may still be helpful if presented in the right context.
Thanks to Trent for inviting me to look into this more for myself. As always, whatever I came up with here are just questions, invitations to further inquiry.
If there has been a glimpse of what we are, or there is an awakening here but not as clear or embodied as it can be, it can be a very helpful pointer. It can help us find what is already here, and also trust it enough to allow our human self to live from it more.
Also, if something is true for us but we don’t act on it due to a (contrary) belief, such a statement can be just the encouragement needed to help us act on it.
Sometimes, teachers will say that they are reminding us of what we already know. When and how is that true, and when not?
There is knowledge at the what and who levels. What I am can notice itself and know itself, in that way, outside of stories. And then there is all the conventional knowledge in the world, happening within stories.
So when and how do we already know what we are?
Within an awakening, there is often an element of surprise. What I am is always and already here, and I was it and saw it the whole time, without noticing. In that sense, I knew it without knowing.
And when there has been a glimpse of what we are, we also know. We can even find it again right here now, if we look. Here, whenever a teacher talks about what we are and offers pointers and invitations to look for ourselves, the teacher is reminding us of what we already know in a more conventional and everyday sense.
So as long as there has not been a glimpse of what we are, saying that we already know can be helpful as a pointer. It is an invitation to look at what is already here. There is no need to wait for something to happen first, no need to look for any particular state or experience.
And the same is the case after a glimpse. It is a pointer to notice right here now what we – within stories – remember from that glimpse.
At the same time, if there has not been a glimpse, saying that we already know what we are can be misleading if people look for it within stories, as is the case with any teaching.
As what we are, we already know since it is already here, even if we don’t notice at all. And we already know following a glimpse. And we also don’t know. What we are may be awake to itself in a clear way, yet is still a mystery to itself. And a memory, a story of what was, is not it either. It is a pointer, at most.
When and how is it true as who we are, within form, experience and/or stories?
The most obvious way it is true is when we have some familiarity with dynamics and processes teachings point to. Often, within an awakening, there is a great deal of insights – and these can mirror quite closely the insights recorded in many different traditions. Even before an awakening, insights may come up that mirror traditional teachings. (One example of this is the Big Mind process when complete novices can solve koans and give answers that echo the words of teachings and teachers of the different traditions, and it comes from direct insight. In a sense, they already knew, they just needed the pointer.) And we may also know what is more true for us than a belief, yet still act on that belief. So here, the teacher can invite us to find what is already more true for us.
If a teacher say they are reminding us of what we already know and we use it as a pointer, it can be very helpful. And if we go into a story about it, it is less helpful.
As with any pointer, this one is helpful in some situations and when it is received a certain way. And less helpful in other situations, and when it is received another way.
- reminder of what we already know
- hindsight, see that already knew, just didn’t notice
- after glimpse, know – as a memory, a pointer