“I well know that, not being a literary man, certain presumptuous persons will think they may reasonably deride me with the allegation that I am a man without letters. Stupid fellows! Do they not know that I might reply as Marius did in answering the Roman patricians, by saying that they who adorn themselves with the labours of others, will not concede to me my very own: they will say that, not having learning, I will not properly speak of that which I wish to elucidate. But do they not know that my subjects are to be better illustrated from experience than by yet more words? — experience which has been the mistress of all those who wrote well, and, thus as mistress, I will cite her in all cases.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
One of the delightful things about truth is that it can be expressed in so many different ways. And this way of expressing the value of experience has such a deep resonance with me that I carry it (the words “let experience be your mistress”) around with me on my phone to remind me, now and again, of how I could be living. The striking thing about it is that being a mistress is not how you would usually describe experience. It’s an odd combination of words, and it’s the very unexpectedness of this that causes a mental jolt, or stop, to make us take notice.
To explore a little more deeply, it may seem odd that I would carry around a quotation (the work of others) rather than be guided by my own experience. Surely, if I value the advice in the quotation, I should throw the quotation away!
I regularly attend presentations by Serge Benhayon: the essence of what he presents is that we live by our own experience. Surely, if I value that advice, I don’t need to come to his presentations.
Don’t you love a paradox? Where is the balance between learning and experience? Surely, there is value in the work of others that have come before us, as well as value in our own experience?
So much of what we see as useful in our modern society has only come about because the work of many has been brought together to create useful things. A mobile phone is a good example of a pinnacle of technological development: it’s in this kind of practical device that the work of others, and learning from others, become essential building blocks to produce something of value to humanity.
And yet, in interaction and connection with others we need to be able to feel what is actually going on. To be able to connect with ourselves we need to be able to feel. And to feel stillness allows a deep knowing from which a true action arises.
But despite having this knowledge, I come to many moments in life with an expectation of how it will be or should be, and rather than feel what is, my expectation takes me along in its own energy and I get lost in the objective.
Instead of walking each step, and being with me as I walk, I am captured by my mind which is already at the destination and beyond.
But I do have the gift of awareness and can notice when I have drifted into the future. And having noticed I can stop and come back to the step I am taking now. One of the tools I have to remind me of this is that quotation from Leonardo. Another tool that I have to remind me of that inner wisdom is the presentations that Serge Benhayon brings. Each of these things help me to come back to me more easily.
This quotation resonates with me because it is truth. These same words can be written by others, but if the truth is not known by the writer, they are just words. Words alone are not the truth – truth comes from experience. Words can present facts; in our society that can be mistaken for truth, especially if we don’t feel.
My ability to feel truth is strong and has always been so. But I learnt to push that away so that I could fit with society’s expectations. My mind still knows the rules and mores of society, and my habit of following my mind’s view of the world is still strong. There remains a task ahead of me to properly undo the habits I have created.
And to help with that task I will continue to listen to Serge’s presentations and feel whether it is true for me. To test by my own experience whether it is my truth.
Could it be that what is offered in this quotation is not Leonardo’s wisdom, but a universal wisdom that is available to us all if we stop and feel? That what is being presented by Serge Benhayon is not his wisdom, but an ageless wisdom that any of us can tap into?
It is available to us all equally. We just have to learn (again) to trust.
by Chris Baker, Australia