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    This week's (July 7, 2011) Ways of Knowing discussion is on the topic "Edge."

    The concept of an edge, as I usually think of it, is a phenomenological notion.  Actually, I assume edges exist as  structural conditions of mind and world, but I'm most interested in how they appear in experience, that is, phenomenologically. 

    I'd like to include by reference, Bruce's introduction to the topic for this week on the Ways of Knowing site   which suggests among other good points and questions:

    • Edges can come unexpectedly -- and thereby catch our attention as threats, disturbances, or challenges to whoever it was we previously thought we were.
    • Edges can be places of growth -- where "self" meets "not-self" and "possible-self."
    • Does your practice take you to previously undiscovered or unknown edges?  Beyond the perimeters of known maps?


    Edges are a discontinuity between different ways of knowing or functioning.  Edges are about capability and competence, or rather, the limits of them.  Edges are an encounter with the unknown.  As such they may be accompanied by a sense of fear, chaos, or confusion.  A shaky mind can be a sign of being at the edge.  So can mental dullness, tiredness, or inability to concentrate.  The telltale sign of these is whether there is an accompanying shift in other channels of awareness, such as the emotional felt sense, or body tensions.

    Ambivalent feelings or impulses are a sign of an edge.  An impasse, paradox, or dilemma is an edge.  What are the "horns" of the dilemma?

    Disturbing events bring one to an edge.  An event itself has many possible interpretations -- the specific way it is a disturbance indicates the nature of the edge.

    Edges are a place where freedom is possible, and difficult.

    Edges are the place where new knowledge emerges.

    Dreams are a phenomenon where knowledge comes into one's awareness from "over the edge".

    A group can be at an edge.  No one really understands what's really going on in a group discussion.  The group often follows unspoken ideas of themes for a while, exploring them.  And of course at any point the discussion could go in many directions.  At a certain point the feeling about the "current talk" changed, and it wasn't as interesting or creative or whatever motivates people to talk.  Why?  Was it because all the interesting things had been said about the topic?  Or because all the easy things had been said, and the remaining ones were unknown, or perhaps troubling?  Was the group on the edge of something unknown?  Something they didn't already have preconceived ideas about?  Or that would require a different way of thinking or knowing?   The group might seem "stuck" in the current topic, but with a building feeling that something new wants to occur.  An individual's comment can send the group off in a whole new direction, with a new topic, a new feeling.  Other times the comment is ignored.  What's the difference?  Often it is that the comment nudged the group past an edge and into a new area.

    Little edges are worth noticing.  Nothing is so small that it doesn't matter.  This is true for several reasons.  One is that the significance of something is not understood or known until it is looked into more deeply.  Another is that what all things have in common is the knower, who is vast, and the significance of the encounter depends on the quality of presence of the knower.  Another is that "things" have a qualitative dimension that has nothing to do with "size".  Another is that doing one "unimportant" thing may use awareness and skills or develop a competence that is significant somewhere else.  Thus the Karate Kid is washing a car, trying to get it just right, but that is really building a base for vital skill in the martial art.  Similarly, according to Gurdjieff, a person who can make a perfect cup of tea can do anything.

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