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On the Fifth State of Learning

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of April 2, 2007

Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2

This Week's Questions

[posed by Colleen A.]
  • How is it possible to have Learner's Block about things you know and love?
  • Is Learner's Block, Layer 1? Is Learner's Block impossible if you're in Layers Nine and Ten?
  • Why can I not stop asking "why" questions? Am I doing this because I have a block?

Do you know?

[Question 1] When I am experiencing Learner's Block, I need quiet. Noise makes me crazy. Am I blaming the noise for my block if I ask why I need this quiet?
[Answer] Actually, the answer to your question is simpler than you know. Noise is an ordinary state of the world. At least, the level of noise you seem to be referring to. Moreover, hating an ordinary life event (like noise) is one of the twelve Emergence Block Markers. Therefore, what is happening to you here is an injury. Not a problem with learning.

Know telling Learner's Block from injury is not always this easy. Why? Because while both states are caused by different conditions, they can both look and feel the same.

Where does Learner's Block come from? From dwelling too long in a question you can't answer. In a way, it's when you try to force an answer you do not have. Or can't access. This then leads to digressions which feel like you've mentally entered the Minotaur's labyrinth of the logical mind. In effect, you're searching down too many side roads and have simply strayed too far off the path.

Reliving an injury feels much the same since this same Minotaur's labyrinth of the logical mind thing happens. And wounds too involve a question you cannot answer. However, the question you cannot answer with wounds is not merely something you're trying to learn. Rather it's that you're trying to understand what is making you suffer. Where it came from and how can you keep it from recurring.

As for you and the fact that you hate hearing noise while you study, this injury is an easy enough one to heal. Simply set up a situation wherein you are trying to learn and have your husband do a little Emergence allergy testing with regard to defining the kind of noise which the biggest rise out of you. Then, after finding the noise you hate the most, have him do Direct Emergence using this noise. You'll have this wound gone in in a half an hour or less. If indeed it even takes that long.

[Question 2] How is it possible to have Learners Block about things you know and love?
Now we're looking at just the opposite state of mind; having Learner's Block about things you know and love, rather than being unable to learn because you are in the presence of something you hate. And again, the answer is simply. If you can see this as Learner's Block not injury, and if you understand what causes Learner's Block.

First, in this case, we are talking about Learner's Block. Plain and simple. No Block Marker's here. As for what cause Learner's Block, as I said previously, it is caused by making digressions. Big, grand, fifteen steps off the path digressions. To where? To the places in your mind where you think the answer might be hiding. Or to a thread of something related which you do understand.

In a way then, the only requirement for Learner's Block is that you digress far enough away from what you know that you get lost in too many choices. Then, instead of back tracking back to something you do know, you then push on into the jungle of either what you cannot understand or what you can but can't contain all at once. All the while getting more lost by the minute.

So why does this happen with things you know and love. I'd guess it probably happens more with things you know and love. As well as with people you know and love. Why? In truth, it does not matter. All that matters is that you recognize that when it comes to learning, loving something does not exempt you from the pain of learning. Including the pain of Learner's Block.

[Question 3] Why can I not stop asking "why" questions? Am I doing this because I have a block?
To begin with, asking why questions is normal. Thus, you are not doing this because you have a block. In truth, we all feel urges to ask why questions, whenever we feel pushed by life. In addition, these pushes can come from just about any source at all. And while they can indeed come from reliving an injury, more times than not they come from simply trying to escape our urges to punish someone for the pain we feel in everyday living.

What I'm saying is, whenever civilized folks feel pain, they feel urges to ask why questions. Why? Because by nature, we humans feel urges to punish someone for this pain. Civilized folks however are not comfortable with punishing people. At least not in crazy ways. Thus they feel urges to find a an alternative, a way satisfy these urges without appearing to punish.

In essence, we substitute why questions for our urges to punish. Punishing questions for more corporal punishments. In a way then, by explaining why things happen, we satisfy our pride or inner moral rules with why logic. And by doing so, we substitute explanations and excuses for more uncivilized methods of punishment. Things like lashing out with words or punching someone in the nose.

All this is why, in Emergence Personality Theory, we say these questions occur in Layer 2, the Layer of Punishing Questions, Explanations, and Excuses for Not Punishing Someone. And why we often refer to these why questions as civilized blaming; blaming questions intended to avoid physically punishing someone.

Ironically this stuff is the stock in trade for most talk therapies. And because most people go to therapy to feel better rather than to learn about themselves (and because coming up with new and more refined Punishing Questions, Explanations and Excuses for Not Punishing Someone makes us feel better), most civilized folks love therapy. As well as all the books on the self help shelves at bookstores, all of which are chock full of new and better ways to not physically punish people. Including ourselves.

A second irony here of course is that these questions do punish. Whomever we ask them to, in fact. And while we do indeed avoid the more physical versions of punishment by asking them, in truth, why questions simply punish in a more insidious way. How? They punish our minds.

In the end then, we feel urges to ask why questions because these excuses and explanations distance us from the pain of life. We literally change from being the person hurting to the person watching the person hurting. Talking heads rather than hurting puppies. Judges and juries rather than executioners.

Finally, there is one more very important thing to know here. I, myself, have been using the word "why" throughout this answer. Dos this mean I am trying to avoid punishing someone?

Not at all. It is simply that the word "why" has two meanings, not just one.

First, it means what I've been describing here; the psychological reasons for why things happen. Or more succinctly, peoples' psychological motives. This is the kind of why questions meant to explain away pain in order to avoid physically punishing people.

The second kind of why question then refers to the kinds of questions little children ask; the why is the sky blue kinds of why questions. These questions do not focus on explaining peoples' pain. Rather, they focus on explaining the essential nature of things.

Thus, the word "why" can mean either the nature of why things are the way they are or the psychological explanations for why people act the way they do. Which is why we refer to these two "whys" as the natural why and the psychological why.

Moreover, only psychological why questions punish people. Natural why questions do the opposite. They diffuse our urges to punish entirely.

In the end, whatever you call it though, it does not matter. Other than to know that asking psychological why questions is our way of avoiding the need to physically punish people. As well as our way of psychologically anesthetizing ourselves. Distancing ourselves from the pain of life. Which we can't do and still have a good life. But can you blame people for trying?

[Question 4] Does Learner's Block occur in Layer 1? Is it impossible to experience Learner's Block if you're in Layers Nine and Ten?
[Answer] Good questions, Colleen. Let's start with the first one. Does Learner's Block occur in Layer 1? My answer. Yes. It could. But it could also occur while you're in any of the other Layers. Other than Layers 9 and 10, to answer your second question.

Why can't you experience Learner's Block in Layers 9 or 10? Because the essence of Learner's Block is that we digress into a disconnect, and in Layers 9 and 10, we feel connected not disconnected. In a way then we could say that an essential quality shared by all Layers outside of Layer 9 is that they all include some sort of painful digression.

What kinds of digressions are we talking about?

In Layer 8, we digress into a sort of infinite blackness where only we exist, nothing more. The thrown from the space ship without a suit feeling. Here our minds suddenly reach out to the farthest reaches of the Universe, in an effort to learn a way to survive. Not knowing how we will survive is the nature of Learner's Block here.

In Layer 7, we digress very similarly to how we do in Layer 8, except for that we are not alone and learning how to survive is not our focus. Rather, in Layer 7, we know we will survive. But we are afraid we will remain needy. We also know we are not alone. But we fear we will continue to co exist with the potential satisfiers of our need while at the same time, having them not know we are alive.

Thus unlike the Learner's Block which occurs in Layer 8 (where we are desperately trying to learn how to survive), in Layer 7, we are desperately trying to learn how to get someone to satisfy a need. And in the service of this learning, we digress further and further into the murky swamp of begging, pleading, threatening, and tantruming.

In Layer 6, then, we digress into the grand sorting process; sorting all life experience into what we can and cannot see. Blocks and non Blocks. Learning and non learning. Here, the nature of Learner's Block is simply. We are desperately trying to sort all of what we sense into what we do know and what we do not know. And drowning in the process.

In Layer 5, then, we digress into the nature of our symptoms, desperately seeking relief from this pain. If we can find it, we can fix it is what we think and feel here. Thus, the Learner's Block which occurs in Layer 5 entails us sparing no mental or emotional energy in the search for an answer to where our pain is coming from. Anything and everything at suspect.

In Layer 4, we digress into the endless hell of having to punish some one. Either ourselves or someone else. Either way though, we digress into the search for an appropriate punishment. The more exquisite, the better. Thus, escaping the Learner's Block of Layer 4 may have been a part of what fueled Dante Alighieri to write his Divine Comedy, in which he described the Inferno. The nine nested layers of hell.

In Layer 3, we digress into a hell similar to what we feel in Layer 4. Only in Layer 3, we must find a way to punish people and have them survive. Oh, darn. Do we have to? In Layer 3, we do. Thus the nature of Layer 3's Learner's Block is that we must search and search and search for an appropriate way to punish a person and at the same time, at some point, have this punishment end.

In Layer 2, the Layer in which we most commonly experience Learner's Block, we digress into the Minotaur's labyrinth of the logical mind, as we dig deeper and deeper and deeper into the psychological reasons why someone's pain has occurred. Either ours or someone else's. Learner's Block here is what has driven some of the greatest minds into the greatest lives. For instance, Plato's Republic was in all likelihood a result of Layer 2 Learner's Block. As was most of the European philosophy written after 1600.

Finally, in Layer 1, we digress into personal oblivion. In other words, we digress into the search for a way to diffuse our feelings and thoughts to the point wherein we cease to exist as beings. Food. Video games, Sex. Whatever. Pain relief without punishing anyone. Thus, Layer 1's Learner's Block entails mainly the experience of drowning in possible ways in which to numb ourselves.

My whole point here is to show you how Learner's Block can occur in any Layers other than in 9 and 10. And that each Layer differs based on what we seek to learn. The focus of our digressions. The brand of holy grail we seek.

[Question 5] I don't ever feel like I know what Layer I'm in while I'm in it. In other words, whenever I try to know, I have to stop what I'm feeling and or thinking and shift my self-awareness gear. At which point, the Layer I'm in may change. What I'm saying is, however brief this shift into self awareness may be, my "Layer self-awareness" does not happen simultaneously with what I'm learning. Will it ever? How can I achieve this, and is there value in it?
First, know that what you've described here, as far as that you shift gears when you try to know the Layer you are in, will indeed cause you to change Layers. Essentially, you'll shift from whatever Layer you were in into Layer 2; the Layer of Explanations. In other words, by trying to explain what Layer you are in, you are literally forcing yourself into Layer 2.

Unfortunately, as soon as you do this, you have either moved out of the Layer you were in, or shifted your focus within Layer 2 from what you were focused on to trying to know your present state.

As for your Layer self awareness happening in sync with your self examination, Colleen, you can and will learn to do this if you keep applying yourself. And while it is difficult for most adults to get out of Layer 2 long enough to self observe, you have the basics for doing this already in you. As I've said, it's just a matter of applying yourself.

Where might you start? You might start with that you need a picture for what doing this looks like. Until you get one, it will feel like a total mystery as to how this could happen. Fortunately, you have a perfect teacher who can give you that picture. Your four year old daughter. And if you simply watch her self awareness shift for a while, you'll have a great collection of pictures from which to know each and every Layer.

This technique in fact, the mirroring technique, is one of the more useful ways in which to learn anything. The learn by watching someone else method. And while it may seem you are doing this very thing whenever you are watching yourself, in fact, you are not.

What's different then? The main difference is in how you do or do not connect to another being. In the case of your daughter, if you let her be your teacher, then you connect to her as her student.

And in the case of self observing? Here, you need to develop the skill of being both the watcher of yourself and yourself. In other word, both the doer and the watcher of the doer. In your case then, what has been missing is that you have either not been the watcher or not been the doer. You need to do both simultaneously.

Connecting to someone else is the key here, Colleen. As it is for all learning. And gaining a picture set of what it looks like to be in each Layer is the goal. Once you have this, you'll find it relatively easy to watch and do.

Emergence Character Type Babies

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