Knowledge (Video Script)
We live in the information age. Digital data on any subject is just a computer keystroke away from almost anywhere on the planet via the Internet.
And yet, what do we really know? What about the knowledge gained from interacting with other people – or directly with nature? What about knowledge acquired through reflection or meditation?
Clearly, knowledge implies more than simple awareness of information or data. Knowledge is the understanding gained by experience.
Knowledge implies interaction and involvement. At some level, knowledge is inherently personal.
In our search for God, one of the early lessons focused on self knowledge – Know Thyself. In another lesson, the application of virtue led to understanding – practical knowledge of spiritual truth.
Like a tune played an octave higher with variations and subtlety, these lessons are sequential and cumulative. In this lesson (and the next one on Wisdom), the focus will be on the higher knowledge of spirit.
Knowledge Is Power
Advances in scientific and technological knowledge of the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology has changed the world dramatically in almost every phase of life. Likewise, progress in the knowledge of commerce, politics, and social interaction has led to a higher standard of living for humans around the planet.
Such mundane knowledge does have value. Knowledge of food production, shelter, and social cooperation is essential for the survival of the species.
However, misapplied knowledge can be catastrophic. The power of knowledge without the direction of a high spiritual ideal can yield immense distortions in human experience.
Let us keep in mind Plato’s allegory of the cave. We live in a world of shadows. Materialistic science and technology – including the social sciences, produces knowledge of shadows – very useful so long as we recognize the limitations of such knowledge in the larger scheme of things.
Yes, material quality of life is important for souls working out their lessons in the classroom of planet earth. The educational process involves gradually gaining knowledge like a student at any school passing through levels of learning.
The power of higher knowledge associated with the unseen forces of spirit is usually more subtle and will go unnoticed unless the desire for soul development is present. Thus the law of cause and effect (so apparent to materialistic science) also applies at the higher level of soul development as karma. We are constantly meeting ourselves in life. We reap what we sow.
Just as materialistic science acknowledges that like begets like (in terms of heredity and genetics), this principle also applies at the soul level with mind as the builder. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.
The knowledge of these universal laws is powerful when applied for a spiritual purpose:
- Forgive if you would be forgiven – that is knowledge.
- Be merciful if you would find mercy – that is knowledge.
- Be friendly if you would have friends – that is knowledge.
- Be lovely to others if you would have love in your life – all this is knowledge that helps us to live in harmony with the laws of the universe, as companions to each other and the creative force that is our Source.
Thus we gain the knowledge of God’s presence in our lives. That is powerful knowledge.
Sometimes it is necessary to empty the mind and heart of dogma and set ideas before we can obtain higher knowledge. This unknowing – the use of meditation and reflection to empty ourselves of what we think we know, clears space in our consciousness for new insight and understanding as we seek the higher knowledge of spirit.
The emptiness of unknowing frees us from the thoughts and beliefs that we have absorbed or internalized from our culture, parents, and family – that we have taken on without even recognizing that these are merely ideas and not necessarily truth – for truth changes to a developing soul.
While prayer is talking to god; Meditation is listening to God – listening for the still small voice from within – the inner knowing of what is true for us at that moment in our lives. Listening requires that we empty our minds of cultural traditions that we have internalized – that we empty our minds of mundane knowledge associated with waking consciousness and the activities of daily secular life. Listening requires that we empty our hearts of malice, hate, and selfishness.
The emptiness of unknowing may be particularly helpful during difficult times when we have exhausted our current level of knowledge on a given problem or circumstance. In the dark night of soul, fresh, new insights and possibilities can enter out minds as we meditate and open ourselves to the spirit of God. Thus true knowledge is a growing, expanding experience for the soul in search of its Source.