explore, inspire

Finding your 'Element'


Stumbled upon a wonderful discussion between Sir Ken Robinson and Eckhart Tolle- you would be hard pressed to find two more forward thinking and enlightened people to bring together to chew over the meaning of life.

Although Eckhart takes a wee while to warm up, the video is well worth watching, exploring the themes in Sir Ken’s latest book, The Element. But if you simply can’t find the time here is a brief synopsis.

The focus of their chat is finding your ‘element’ – the thing that makes your heart sing and time disappear. Without the creative element in our lives we end up simply enduring them, waiting for the weekend. (Can’t help thinking of that delightful comment by Maggie Smith’s wealthy character in Downton Abby…”What’s a weekend?”).

They quote from the Dalai Lama – “To be born at all is a miracle” …You made it so what are you going to do now?

The whole basis of human life is diversity, you see this diversity in the natural world, but like natural resources, human resources are buried beneath the surface. Maybe you were lucky enough to discover your natural aptitude early or it was nurtured or noticed by someone, a parent or teacher. Everyone’s aptitudes are different, hence the great shame that our education system focuses on only a few, such as maths (which both claim to be hopeless at) or English. Yet intelligence takes so many varied and wonderful forms. But, if we haven’t found it we tend to live our lives with the sense we are waiting for the next thing to happen, rather than enjoying the here and now.

And even when we know what we need to do to make us happy, why is it so hard to make the changes needed to pursue our Element?  Eckhart talks of our inner resistance to change – many people don’t want to be doing what they are doing but feel they have to. We get trapped in this negative state. But by giving little things our fullest attention and doing them with great love we open ourselves up to possibilities – this is the first step towards change – “let go of resistance to the moment”.

According to Sir Ken we (humans) have the power of imagination and empathy – the ability to engage with others’ consciousness: “if we imaginatively engage with someone else’s consciousness, if we are empathetic then we broaden our own lives”. Empathy, however, is often something we try and suppress in times of war and conflict. But from empathy comes the power of creativity: “As human beings we create our own lives…we can choose to see things differently…” and we we can change circumstances when we change our attitude.

This is why teaching empathy in schools is so critical – education for heart and mind. And why religion has sadly become one of the greatest forces of enmity:

“It is almost as though religion has been hijacked by the ego” said Tolle.

Creativity underpins humanity – We get locked into our small worlds of conventions, values, protocols but great change comes when new ideas spread, the flowering of consciousness is perhaps the next great revolution.

Update: Unfortunately the full video is no longer available. However, you can watch a snippet about changing circumstances by changing our attitudes here.

Ken Robinson talk about The Element.


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