Learning: Certainty or Doubt?




Certainty is not quite what you thought. Don’t stop thinking.

An elementary classroom is full of strategies. Some better than others–but all quite effective with an experienced teacher possessing the mental flexibility of a gymnast.

Take for example this vocabulary strategy: students brainstorm synonyms and antonyms of a given word. Done independently, there is limited value. As a class discussion, you can predict that there will be controversy (productive controversy!), especially with antonyms. Doubt in a classroom is good. Doubt leaves the door open for learning. Certainty means the door is closed. End of discussion.

In the past few months, I have been peeling back the layers of what I have unquestioningly accepted as certainties. Instead, I have been opening my mind‘s door to search for a greater Truth.  Despite the volumes upon volumes that have been written over years, decades and millennia, I have always had a sense that the greater truths seem to lie within us. They exist as intuition, emotions, or even gut feelings. They almost exist in…what…our souls?  What we seem to care about most is the connections we have with each other–one soul with another.


Why am I here? I just finished reading Dr. Matthew McKay’s book, Seeking Jordan.  In this book, McKay chronicles his journey to reconnect with his son who was murdered at the age of 23. He is successful in doing so. This is a surprising feat, actually. He is a highly-respected researcher in the field of behavioral sciences. He trusts the process of replicating the same or similar results resulting in a statistical significance. Most of all, he is open and determined. He struggled mightily with the idea of publishing Seeking Jordan. It seemed to be the antithesis of all he stood for as a scientist, and yet it was not. There is an astoundingly large body of evidence that supports the ability for souls with bodies (living) to connect with souls without bodies (between lives). The final chapter of the book (spoiler alert) is about Jordan communicating to his father that his father’s purpose in life was to help people connect religion to science. In effect, he was to show how science can rout out the true parts of religions for the good of humanity. Dr. McKay’s purpose was (is) to help us all learn love better, and to learn that the universe exists because of the energy of love.

The intersection McKay’s quest with mine

Ironically, coincidentally, spiritually, or whether by forces of karma, this has been my mission as well. I have wanted to know: What is the intersection of science and religion that can help us live and know love better? 

You would need to read McKay’s book in order to fully appreciate what I am trying to say. That is okay. More than ever, I am confident that we are all just here to learn, and each of us has a different role and different path. That doesn’t, however, preclude us from learning from each other.

What I had reasoned out for myself, before reading the book:

Love means a kind of knowing that is free from judgement.

The universe depends on the energy of love for its existence. (I had already accepted this.)

We learn as a result of curiosity, desire, and pain.

Those who cause pain don’t know any better.

Some people hurt us which causes pain. That makes me want to learn, but I didn’t know how to handle the memories of the people who had caused the pain.

What this book helped me understand:

Those who hurt actually have helped me by creating my need to know what love is and how to give and receive it. Hurtful people are necessary to my unique purpose to learn love, so there is no reason to fault them. They are learning, too, in their own ways.

In retrospect, I was an ideal candidate to learn. I had a blank slate when it came to knowing love–not abused, just completely ignored.  I was indoctrinated with religious rules and beliefs–all of the should-and-should not statements of what constituted sin. I was the quintessential judge, unmarred by delusions of love. (No worries, I have learned! 🙂 )

Devoid of love but with many rules, living seemed excruciating and nearly unsustainable. I was driven to find a better way.

My new learning via McKay’s Seeking Jordan

Rules, doctrines, dogmas, and judgments prevent us from thinking and learning. We close our minds. We wall ourselves in with all of our righteousness and shut out love from what we perceive to be others’ wrongness.

By staying open–free from judgments of any kind–we are in a neutral territory where we meet and learn with others in all of our frailties, vulnerabilities, and concerns. Love means knowing and still holding, containing everything despite what we might have known before. Remaining open is the only way we can continue on our life’s mission of learning to love better.

My bold statement: religions and belief systems espousing certainties–devoid of doubt–result in an ironic antonym: the prevention of love from being learned. A faith that is rule-based certain is not love.

Let’s keep the door open for learning about love, friends. 🙂












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