What makes you think you have it all figured out?

What makes you think that you have it all figured out?

This is an interesting question. Let’s look at the question itself. Let’s try to “figure out” the question itself. The biggest thing that needs clarification in this question is the smallest word “it”. What do you mean by “it”? Is it life, some subject, some philosophy, some talent or some work. What is “it” that you are talking about figuring out?

Well, there are two broad areas into which the “it” can fall into. First is anything which is “limited” and second are things which are “unlimited” or “infinite”. Anything which is limited can be figured out and can give you a feeling of having figured it out. Sometimes the feeling may be a false one or sometimes it may be the case in actuality. For example take the case of a simple thing like the game of naughts and crosses. One can easily figure this game out after reaching a certain capacity. Now, we can keep making the situation more complex. Let’s take 5th grade mathematics. I guess most educated adults could safely say that they have figured it all out. But as we keep increasing the complexity, we see that it get’s more and more difficult to say that one has it “all figured out”. For example stretching our previous example, can we say that one has the whole field of maths figured out. Can anyone make such a claim?

But the way our human minds work, we are trained to think everything in life is to be “figured out” like maths. This is called convergent thinking. This is what we are trained for, in schools. There is a problem and there is one definite solution. But is life like maths? Is life a problem that can be figured out like maths?

Well, there are some people who you may come across as having figured out everything about life, like the experts in the field of science, religion or social sciences. Each one of them advancing their own theory of what life is. But as you can see that whatever each one figures out is very different from what the other figures out. And then each one starts fighting with each other for what they have figured out as right. It’s like the poem, “Ten Blind Men of Hindostan” Each blind man catches hold of one part of the elephant and attempts to describe the elephant accordingly.

So the direct and short answer to your question is that in very limited areas one can have the feeling of having figured it all out. But in larger areas, the one who has a feeling that he has it all figured out is a blind person, not literally but psychologically.

A wise person knows that he can never say that he has figured it all out. And because he stays in the state of unknowing, he continues to learn. Learning comes to an end when anyone feels that he has figured it all out. And a mind that has stopped learning is mechanical and psychologically partially blind.

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