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Try these two statements on for size:

I know I will never be able to breathe underwater without scuba gear (or other help.)

I know I will never lie to my partner.

I think it’s interesting how we feel pretty sure about both, but if we stop and think about, the second one could actually happen, even though right now we “know” it couldn’t.  It is not impossible to imagine some potential (if not likely) scenario where lying to my partner might be the best thing.  For example, someone grabs me on the street, pulls me into an alley.  My partner, seeing I’ve vanished, calls out to me.  The assailant with his guns to me whispers for me to tell her I’m fine and not to come into the alley, which I do, partly because a guy with a gun is telling me to and partly because I want to make sure she doesn’t come over and become endangered too.  I’ve just lied to her.

To be sure, it was utterly justified, but nevertheless, that what separates the two sentences above.

It has to do with the mind and with the heart.  The minds thinks and the heart feels.

What happens when we alter the two sentences to be more precise:

I think that I will never be able to breathe underwater without scuba gear (or other help.)

I feel that I will never lie to my partner.

The fact of the word “know” is it can mean either.  And that’s very bad™ when it comes to communicating accurately about whether you have good reason to make a statement, or are simply articulating what you feel.

And that’s the crux of the Covenant.  If it’s the mind thinking, that’s secular, period.  If it’s the heart feeling, that’s spiritual, period.

It goes the other way too.  If a something is claimed factually true – like life after death – that’s for the mind to determine – the heart has nothing to add about whether or not there is justification for such a claim.  Oh, the heart can speak all about how much we want or hope it is true, or how much we feel in our bones that it is – but neither of those apply to whether or not a secular claim is justified, and so are not relevant to that determination.

Likewise, the mind can present facts, pros and cons, but the heart ultimately has to make the decision on what it wants.  Do you embrace or resist smoking?  The mind can present facts about the truth of the dangers of smoking and the costs, but none of that makes the decision for you – ultimately it’s about whether the pleasure of the act outweighs your dislike of its consequences – a matter of feeling and heart, as there is no objective measure that X amount of downside is worth Y amount of reward.  Each person has to look for that answer within themselves, and the balance point is at least somewhat different for each of us.

So next time someone tells you they know something – or uses similar words that could mean either thinking or feeling – ask them if it’s with their heart or with their mind.  Then you can determine if they’ve broken the Covenant or not – and whether to take them seriously.

  • http://www.floweringdesign.com Chris Brainard

    First off I don’t know how you can trademark the word BAD :)

    Second I think you need to take this farther. When I say I know I will never lie to her, there is context that is missing. This context is most likely in normal conversations. Not in extreme circumstances or circumstances outside of the context. So the word KNOW is the realm of context.

    Another thing that many people don’t realize is that humans function from the time of NOW or the PRESENT. So all KNOW/CONTEXT is from that place and then it is often attached to past or future and assumed to be a constant. This is the problem with using absolutes in conversation or thinking. What I would call liner thinking.

    Dynamic thinking would follow hold the KNOW in a context, but would only be relevant in the present and near future (24 hours). The problem with dynamic thinking is that many people will consider you a liar if you don’t present the context.

  • benngrant

    You just used the word I trademarked – you now owe me $.00002.

    But seriously folks…

    While it’s true that the analogy/example isn’t perfect, I am hoping we can look beyond it for the message I am trying (probably badly) to convey: When people say they KNOW something, *sometimes* they mean they think it or have a good reason to claim it, and *sometimes* they mean they feel it strongly. It is critical (for both us and even for them) to understand which VERSION of “know” they are using – because one is secular and one is spiritual, and they operate under COMPLETELY different rules.

    If you read the article from that perspective, I hope the intended message is clearer.