of “knowledge” and knowledge

Posted by Daniela Elza on Mar 14 2008

We go through life acquiring stuff, information, “knowledge,” as if it is something we can display on our shelves and counters, or put up on the wall. And unfortunately I find that even in the highest institutional levels of learning that could be the case.

In my youth I was attracted to people who have read a lot, “know” a lot. It was a natural attraction, because I wanted to learn, and understand so much more. Still I have never felt I know enough. Even now. I guess that would the usual feeling if it has not changed in the last few decades.

 Recently, I was browsing in a second hand bookstore and happened upon a book by Shimon Malin called The Eye That Sees Itself. I have not read too far when I came upon a passage and was for once satisfied with what I found regarding knowledge. Even made it worthwhile putting up with the owner of the second hand bookstore who, in trying to be a good host, never left me for a moment to myself, or trust me with picking my own books. I thought if I told him I was a student doing my Ph.D. he would leave me alone. But that was poor judgement on my part. He offered me a 10% discount. Then I tried voicing radical views on the role of the literary critic in hope that would put him off and he would find solace in some other soul in the bookstore.

But no, that was not the case. We had to argue our points of view. I picked the above mentioned book and one on Zen which now, on hind sight, was a bit rushed. But let us go to the passage. Malin says:

“The common use of the word knowledge has not only obscured understanding, but actually contributed to the confusion between real knowledge and informational knowledge. Real knowledge is a merging of high vibrations with the totality of the body mind-complex. It can be contrasted with the informational knowledge, which is merely a deposition of data in memory. It follows that the acquisition of real knowledge entails a change in the person. One’s faculties and capacities change; one’s perception is different. And one can do what was impossible to do before…. the acquisition of real knowledge is a sacred process….The acquisition of knowledge is not only a process of transformation for the one who comes to know; it is also a process of creation for the world at large.” 

This makes a lot of sense to me. More sense that other explanations have made so far. It explains the difference between people who “know” and people who know. I keep running into smart people. So the attraction there is natural. Then life happens. And you look up to these people to do the right thing. And you observe that they do not, cannot, (or is it) will not?  And it is puzzling because you know they “know” better. That with all of what you know they know, they should be able to afford a better reaction, a better response to the situation that you find yourself in. The discrepancy there is to say the least a disappointment. So I agree. There is knowing and there is “knowing.” And I know it is a process of creation, because through the process of writing, I come to know. I come to feel something inside of me shifting, which could testify to transformation. Who knows…

 Ultimately, I can add, that this process of knowing is not only creative. It is delightful. It is something we should remember everyday and should not fail ourselves in our knowing better. 

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