Monthly Archives: March 2017

Knowing the Knowledge

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“Today, we’ll talk about knowledge, the very differentiator of our existence”, continued the professor after his invocation.

Still not convinced about knowing the non-observables, Jāti was really keen to know more about knowing.

Before getting into the details of knowledge, let’s try to understand, as who is the one who knows the knowledge. “What do you think, who is the knower?”, asked the prof pointing to Indriya.

“Eyes, I think, as what I see is what I know”, replied Indriya.

If eyes, then why not your other sense organs – ear, nose, tongue, skin – even they acquire their corresponding subjects of sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Ya ya, I think, all the sense organs are the knowers.

Anything else other than the five sense organs?

Hmmm. May be the sixth sense.

Let’s not get into that right away. But we’ll come to it.

Then, may be nothing else.

Okay. Then, with that do you mean that: if you do not see, you do not know; if you do not hear, you do not know; …

“No no professor. I think our mind is the one which knows, sense organs are just the via media, helping it to know”, interrupted Paryāpti.

Quite right, about the sense organs – they are not the actual knowers, they are just the means to acquire knowledge – and that also only some of the means.

Why only some of the means? Are there other means, as well?

Yes. Otherwise, it would mean that one would not know anything without using his sense organs. And then, what about a child, who is blind, deaf and dumb by birth – it shouldn’t be knowing anything other than taste, smell, and touch. But Helen Keller is a famous example pointing against this.

“Possibly, she got to know other stuff using her three sense organs”, quipped Prāṅ.

Very unlikely. But then how does a new born know about crying, say when it is hungry? Or, how does it even know that it is hungry?

That’s basic instinct.

Exactly, that’s what my point is. Where does this basic instinct or basic knowledge come from?

“That’s what I was talking about the sixth sense”, reinforced Indriya.

Yes. But, where does it come from? Isn’t it via something other than the five sense organs?

Possibly yes. Or, may be the mind has it already coded into it, and that’s how it knows it.

Okay. But how did it get encoded into the mind? Or, let’s first understand, what do you mean by mind?

“Mind means our brain, where it is already encoded through genes inherited from parents”, answered Paryāpti.

If it was genes alone, then why didn’t all the knowledge from parents pass along. Why does a kid needs to be taught all over again?

May be only some selected knowledge gets transferred through genes, the one we call basic instincts.

Then, where does the knowledge for intuition, creativity, out of the box thinking, etc come from? Are they basic instincts or not?

Possibly they are also basic instincts.

If they are the basic instincts transferred through genes, then why do they differ drastically even between twins?

“I think they are not basic instincts and their knowledge is rather acquired through our sense organs over time”, interrupted Indriya.

If this knowledge would have been acquired through mere sense organs, it should have been comparable in kids growing in the same environment with similar functional sense organs. But, we have examples of exceptional scientists, grown up among all other ordinary crowd in similar environments, but showing their extra-ordinary knowledge.

“Bottom line is that there must be some means other than the sense organs and the hereditary traits, from which the mind acquires knowledge”, concluded Prāṅ.

And in the purview of science, it is impossible to explain those means. Say e.g. how did Einstein get the extra-ordinary insight into relativity? All kind of observational means would hit some or the other roadblock in answering this question. Then, there has to be something beyond science i.e. something non-observable to answer it. That’s where philosophy pitches in.

“This could be a strong reason to believe that non-observables do exist”, insisted Jāti.

Yes. In fact, the observable mind is just a front-end exhibitor of knowledge and not even the real knower. The real knower is the soul (आत्मा) – the back-end – deep within one self. And it has all the knowledge from time immemorial, so doesn’t need any means to acquire more.

If our soul knows it all, then why don’t we know all?

I just said, that the soul has the complete knowledge. That doesn’t mean that it knows it all, or in other words, it doesn’t mean that it is able to use it all, as well. Having something doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to use it.

So, is knowing, different from having knowledge?

Yes & No. Knowing is having, plus being able to use/apply that knowledge.

Ok, then I’ll rephrase my question. Even after the soul having the complete knowledge, why aren’t we able to know or use it all?

If we were just in our soul form, we would have known everything. But we (the souls) are bound and limited by all kind of worldly observable stuff, restricting our ability to exhibit, or even use our complete knowledge. And that’s why, unaware of that fact, we keep on trying to use various worldly means to keep on knowing more and more of just the observable stuff. Rather, if we are able to remove these worldly bounds and limitations, we’d attain the state of complete knowledge, where, we’d know about everything observable and non-observable.

“Wow! Then, please tell us how to remove these limitations?”, queried the impatient Jāti.

For that, we would first need to understand the various levels of knowledge and their limitations.

“Not now”, was the sigh from Jāti, as the bell rang again.

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