Library of Mind, Body, and Soul
Knowledge for Freedom >>> Knowledge vs Information

What is Information?

We keep gathering data from the external world in the form of information. The world around us is an ever-present teacher. Our mother is our first teacher, then our father, and then our brothers and sisters. Later we learn from the children with whom we play, teachers at school, writers of books, scriptures, videos, etc. This information gained from external sources is incomplete and fragmented, requires evidence for its validity, and is not satisfying. 

No matter what we have learned, we have not known a single thing independently. Still, we call ourselves learned. Realized sages pity us because we have not learned anything independently. All our ideas are the ideas of others. That is why it is not satisfying. Even if we have mastered an entire library, it still doesn’t satisfy us.

The outside world only gives us facts to relate to that knowledge that is already within us. We develop valuable skills for gathering means and resources by gaining worldly information. A resourceful person can then have a better chance to direct his energies inward to explore life's subtler and glorious dimensions.

What and Where is Knowledge?

The information gained from direct inner experience is called knowledge. This direct knowledge is complete, self-evident, fulfilling, and the highest of all ways of gaining knowledge. There is only one Truth, God, and only one true knowledge: Atma/Soul/Self Gyan/Knowledge. This knowledge is the giver of salvation/liberation.

e.g. [In the story, Newton discovered the principle of gravity when he saw an apple falling one day, and he suddenly understood the principle of gravity. But apples fall every day, and usually, we do not discover anything. Newton discovered the law from within. The real source of knowledge is within.]

The real source of absolute knowledge is within us.

Practicing of Self-Knowledge

The data gained in the form of information serves a noble purpose as long as it inspires us to gain direct experience. Experimenting with the information we have acquired from outside, we can verify that information using our self-knowledge and thus move a step closer toward enlightenment. Without self-knowledge, everything is useless. Direct experience is the final test of the validity of the information that we have gathered. Spiritual Truth does not need an external witness. As long as we doubt, it means we have yet to know.

To be aware of the total entity that we are, to be mindful of the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious process of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and activities is called self-knowledge. Among all the methods for training and therapies, the highest of all is self-training, in which one remains conscious of one’s thoughts, speech, and actions. When we work with ourselves, we will notice that whenever we calm down our conscious mind, bubbles of thoughts will suddenly come up from the unconscious mind. This self-knowledge cannot be learned through a book or another. We intellectually know many things, yet our ignorance is not dispelled. The mere study of the scriptures is information that is not knowledge but only a part of learning. 

e.g. [One student learned that cow's milk is good for health, but he has never seen any cow. So, he went to a teacher and asked about cows, to which the teacher described the characteristics of a cow (legs, udder, color, tail, etc). The student started his search for cows using the acquired information. He saw a cow's idol and thought it to be a real cow as all the features matched his teacher's teachings. There was also a bucket of white paint underneath the cow. The student drank the paint, thinking it was milk. He had terrible health, and after recovering from illness, he told his teacher that his description of the cow was incorrect. His teacher asks if he has milked the cow himself, to which he responds, "No." Similarly, we collect data/information but do not practice.]

Oscar Wilde is credited with the quote "The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.".

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