Reflections on the Ecosystem of Knowledge

  • 13 April 2019
  • Maria Deutsch

Reflections on the Ecosystem of Knowledge

NZ Edelweiss demonstrating the knowledge how to thrive in dry, exposed ecosystems













NZ Edelweiss, demonstrating the knowledge how to thrive in a dry exposed ecosystem] [Reflections on the Ecosystem of Knowledge

We share knowledge, insight and experience as part of our daily work, and I ask myself the question on how our interconnection with nature can teach us in this space.  As I walk through my daily life, I observe different aspects of our interaction with knowledge:

As a reservoir of facts assisting us to make sense of our daily world
As a mystery to be solved keeping us curious and interested in the journey
As a tool to grow our confidence and mana in the world
As a guide to certain aspects of society and life
As something precious that is not to be shared lightly

Knowledge is not easily defined and each one of us has a different way of being with it; often power and mana are associated with knowledge and at times it becomes a gateway or threshold for our journey through life.

Three distinct mountains, each with their own unique roots and composition, creating their own unique knowledgeThree distinct mountains, each with their own unique roots and composition, creating their own unique knowledge] 

What do we truly know? There is the beautiful metaphor linking knowledge to an iceberg: only 1/10th of an iceberg is above water and this is what is visible and ‘known’ to us. Underneath sit our emotions, our mental models, our experiences and our cultural views of the world. We tend to filter knowledge based on what is beneath the surface and yet this is not obvious to the outside. When we think we ‘know’ we often look at our iceberg in isolation, forgetting that it sits in a community of other icebergs with their own hidden parts and in an ecosystem of ocean which itself is part of the planet within the solar system.

How can I become aware of my own ‘iceberg’ – understanding myself deeply, going below the surface. And how can I access the deeper wisdom of my community, of the ecosystem, of our ancestors and of the interlinked web of the universe. How do I define my place and from there how do I place my knowledge?

In the Māori language there are three different words that describe what we may consider knowledge:

Mohiotanga – this captures the knowledge of facts, content and the surface layer of knowing
Maramatanga – this reflects our ‘aha’ moments, our insights and the deeper recognition of a truth
Matauranga – the deep wisdom that holds knowing in an interconnected place and allows it to be applied in the correct way

We can easily transfer these three concepts into nature, describing the different levels of our understanding of an ecosystem: from the simple fact of when a plant flowers through to its link with the insect world and all the way to its many faceted role in the ecosystem community and how us removing it affects all aspects throughout.

Our challenge then is to grow our own ecosystem of knowledge, to be delighted when we can connect facts into insights, and to always cultivate a healthy curiosity for a deeper understanding. To accept that our knowledge will only be one facet of the interconnected truth and through this to stay humble and use what we know in a careful and respectful way.

“E tūtaki ana ngā kapua o te rangi, kei runga to Mangōroa e kōpae pū ana“

The clouds may cover the entire sky, but unseen, above them sits the glory of the entire Milky Way.

Nga Mihi / With Deep Respect
Maria Deutsch

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