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From Conscious to Subconscious

Learning = xué xí  学习

Learning is a journey and a process of growth.  There are many levels or steps that we have to go through before we can say, “I understood”.

Before we take on any study, we have no knowledge of the subject.  When we begin our study, we know we don’t have knowledge but have a desire to continue the study. Then, after many years of study, we know that we know the subject.  Decades later, we use our knowledge with even knowing that we are using it.

Therefore we say:

                  You don’t know that you don’t know. 

                  You know that you don’t know. 

                  You know that you know. 

                  You don’t know that you know. 

Since the levels of don’t know that we know is the highest level of learning and understanding.   The question is how do we go from knowing that we know to the level of not knowing that we know? When we first started learning to drive, we were very nervous and thought about every detail, but I know today you don’t even think about it when you drive, at least not in the same way you did when you were learning. You just get into the car and you drive. This knowledge became subconsciously, something you do automatically.  How do you change knowledge that is conscious into something that is subconscious? The answer is very simple: If you do it enough times, you will change the conscious to the subconscious.  Driving is one example, typing without looking at the keyboard is another example. I had shared with you how raw iron ore becomes steel through high-temperature meltdown. The same process as with a good sword that has to be battered and folded many times to become sharper. All these examples come to one point and that is: repetition.  It is through hardship that we can transform one thing into something else. Taking the iron ore through the high temperature meltdown turns it into liquefied metal which then cools and shapes it into strong steel. The metal of a sword has to be pounded and folded thousands of times, and by going through that torture it becomes a very sharp blade. Same with a flute, which starts as a piece of wood. It has to endure the knife cutting its flesh away, endure that pain to become a flute that helps create beautiful music. Ceramics are more beautiful after going into the thousand-degree heat of the kiln. Everything that we do is polish. When we polish ourselves, we become stronger, better and it always takes time. 

A student once commented that her movements were “not like Coach’s” and my answer to that was, “It’s not the right time yet”. If you practice with patience and with time, your movement will be more beautiful than mine because I am giving you all my knowledge. I have spent all my life to become what I am and now I am sharing what I know with you, so you can build on my knowledge. You don’t have to go through the mistakes that I made. Even though I can give you knowledge and encouragement, you are the one that has to go through the physical practice. Just like the sword is pounded, the flute is carved and the pottery is fired, you are the one that has to go through it. I’ve gone through it, I understand. I am leading the way, but you are the one that has to go through the fire and the carving.  We are all going through an extreme time right now. This situation might last more than three months. When something like this happens, we are also given an opportunity to change ourselves.  If we don’t, these 3-6 months will be a torture and when we finish, we will come out the same as we were before. We don’t want that. We want to come out like the flute, where we can play even better, more beautiful music than was possible before. We want to become a new person. We practice, we train ourselves, and we better ourselves.  Every day we should practice on our own, no matter how much or how little time we have. We do it for ourselves, to change ourselves. There is no better medicine than having a strong immune system and the only way I know to have a strong immune system is through exercise to make the body stronger. We do Taiji for more than just an exercise though, we do it to clear our thoughts; we do it to get rid of bad habits.  To make our good habits enter a subconscious level of not knowing. This opportunity gives us a chance to reflect on ourselves – What do we want to become?

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