Knowledge, Wisdom and Knowing?

The word wisdom has many connotations. If you are considered wise, you are placed in high esteem. You are looked upon for advice, as a confidant and as one who knows many truths. Many cultures extol their elders as being wise; others use the word wisdom when referring to someone who has a vast array of knowledge. Still others refer to wisdom as the sum of scholarly learning through the ages.

However, as powerful and useful as wisdom may be, there is definitely something missing from a society or people who are considered wise. Yes, they may have a storehouse of learning and past experiences, but they are still missing something very vital. To understand what is missing, you must discern the difference between knowledge, wisdom and knowing. Then you will understand why knowledge and wisdom fall behind knowing in the pursuit of living.

Wisdom is only one of three states describing a person’s being. The first is knowledge, which is often mistaken for wisdom. The general premise is that the more knowledge you accumulate, the wiser you become. However, knowledge does not bring you wisdom. Knowledge is what you have been taught from sources outside you. It is what you learn from your parents, teachers, ministers, priests, friends, etc. In essence, there is nothing real about knowledge. In fact, once incorporate knowledge into your mental processes it becomes nothing more than your belief systems. You may find support for and place much credence in these belief systems; yet, they are nothing more than beliefs. They have nothing to do with what you have experienced. Knowledge is always second hand. No matter how close to the truth this knowledge may be, it is never the truth! Suppose you want to teach someone what apple pie is. She has never tasted one. In fact, she has never had an apple. You teach her what an apple is, what is involved in making the pie, and approximately how an apple pie tastes. However, will you be able to relate to her just what an apple pie is? Will she be able to experience an apple pie? Will she know what an apple pie is? Will she know the actual taste of an apple pie? She will only have knowledge of an apple pie. She will not have any experience with knowing what an apple pie is.

You are taught to be Jewish, Christian, Moslem or some other religion. By the time you enter pre-school, you have already been conditioned to accept your parents’ religious teachings as truth. How could they be wrong? There is no doubt in your mind that your religion is the only right religion. You have become so indoctrinated into what you have been taught that you do not even question its validity. You accept these teachings as your truths, as if they were your own experiences. This is knowledge.

The second state describing a person’s being is wisdom. It goes a step beyond knowledge. You gain wisdom as you experience life. If you have an experience of what you call God, during the moment of the experience, it is real. Once the experience has passed, it now becomes a part of your memory. You remember this experience and say it is real, that it is truth. Yes, the moment it happened, it was real, and it was truth. Now, it is nothing more than a memory, and memory is the seat of knowledge. It now fits into your belief systems. It has moved from the real to the imaginary. As time advances, your beliefs become even more entrenched and rigid. Your beliefs also change according to your memories about the experience, your current state of mind, your emotional state and what you now think the experience means.

What you experienced was real. Your definition and interpretation of that experience is from your mind or knowledge base. Once your mind enters into the picture, the whole gestalt changes. Anything that you take from your memory is knowledge. Even if your memory is of a personal experience, once you are out of the experience, it becomes a part of your knowledge base. The woman with the apple pie finally got to look at, smell and taste an apple pie. During the experience, she knew what an apple pie was. She knew how it tasted. However, can that one experience tell her what all apple pies look, smell and taste like? Even a pie created by the same cook will be different each time. Not only that, but even the pie she is eating will taste differently after each bit she eats. If she takes her first experience as the absolute truth, then she will not be open to new experiences. What a shame! There are so many different types of apple pies that to miss out on them is unfortunate.

Wisdom is more powerful and has more validity than knowledge because you have had an experience of what you are knowledgeable about. Still, something is missing. What is missing is the experience of this moment. You have past experiences to support your knowledge, but those experiences are no longer in the present. They have happened and are no more. Yet, you hang on to them and glorify them. You make them your truth of yesterday, today and tomorrow. You become limited by your belief in the absolute truth of your past experience. You deny your current experience in favor of the past.

The third state is that of knowing. In this state, you do not rely on experiences, or knowledge. Instead, you are the experience. When you function out of the state of knowing, you no longer are functioning from either your knowledge or wisdom base, but from within the experience itself. It is when the dancer becomes the dance. It is when there is nothing but this moment. Even thoughts of you are absent. All that remains is awareness: the process of experiencing and knowing this moment. Once experienced, it is gone.

A powerful and often frightening aspect of the state of knowing is that it is always changing. Your mind has a very difficult time with this. It wants consistency, rules and laws to follow. It wants to be able to predict. Knowing eliminates all your securities. You will still be able to predict, have rules and laws, but you will know them for what they are, mere security blankets. Your predictions will only be probability statements. Your rules and laws will only exist as illusions. You will live life as the mystery that it is.

The state of knowing eliminates your need for knowledge and moves wisdom into second place, immediately following knowledge. When you live a life of knowing, you enjoy your knowledge, you have fun with your wisdom and you use both in your daily activities. At the same time, you also recognize that knowledge and wisdom are not the truth or the real. In the state of knowing, you use your knowledge and wisdom. It is of great importance that you can and do use them, but that you don’t accept them as truths. You don’t let them color your experiences of this moment. You don’t let them control your life.

The man of knowledge believes he knows something. The man of wisdom knows he knows something. The man of knowing knows he knows nothing. Can you see the power and freedom of knowing that you know nothing? Now you are free to be who you are, experience what is in your present moment and then be open to the next moment. Since you know you know nothing, you are not locked into a world of dogma, beliefs, false truths or even past experiences. Each moment is fresh; each moment brings you an aliveness and an excitement that knowledge and wisdom just do not have. Enjoy and use your knowledge and wisdom, but be a being of knowing.

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