Everyone lives his life. But the question is if we just live it, or we also know it.
(Knowing in the old biblical sense of penetrating fully)
Life without knowing is like a man who is in love with a woman, and after a lot of effort on his part (and rejections on hers) she finally comes to him and kisses him on his lips in his sleep. The question is: did she really kiss him? Well, she did kiss him, but he was not kissed by her. Meaning: there was a kiss, but only for her, not for him. For he did not know that he had been kissed. Therefore, if he was kissed, but he didn’t know that – he was not kissed.
If you experience something and you don’t know that you experience it – you didn’t experience it.
Life is more in the knowing of the experience than the experience itself. The experience is the beginning, but not the end.
When we experience something – we consume it. When we know something – we create it.
A person can consume his life, or create it. Experience is raw material; knowing is turning the raw material into a product, or a creation.
A carpenter creates furniture from the raw material of the wood. A chef creates casseroles and dishes from the raw material of meat, vegetables and so on. A sculptor creates sculptures from raw materials of stone, wood, iron and more. We, as humans, are supposed to create knowing from the raw material of experience.
Most of the time, when people ask us, “how was it?” or “what happened?”, we answer by giving grades – “it was great”, “it was awful”. But this is not what happened; this is just the label of what happened. Usually, we supply the labels when we have nothing to say.
In order to have something real to say, we have to rescue the meaning of what has happened from the flow of life. The knowing does not appear by itself. In order to get it, one must go against the stream of the happening (the flow of life). Experience is a flow which goes from origin to dispersion, while knowing is a movement, going the opposite direction (against the flow): from the periphery back to the core.
Knowing does not come easy, in order to get it you must put your hand in the mass of the experience, and dig the knowing out of it. Otherwise the experience disappears and the person himself remains with nothing.
A person can live a full long life and still be poor in the substance of real knowing. As one looks back, he can see that a lot has happened, but he does not know what has happened. All is gone, and nothing remained.
The perfect analogy is what happens in the business world:
A person who experiences without knowing what he had experienced is like a businessman who invested money, made business, but in the end, his bank account remains the same. He works a lot and met a lot of people but if nothing goes to his bank account- all his business transactions have no value. If there was an investment and work was done, but there is no profit – it is like there were no investment and no work.
From every experience a person should earn something.
Another excuse is when people say that they know but they don’t have the words. If you know it, you’ve got the words for it. The words are the immediate and accessible resource of the knowing, as the body is the resource of the feelings. If you feel something, the body must transmit those signals. For example, if one is stressed, the face must blush. Or one starts to sweat, or the blinking is increased.
If you experience something and you can’t verbalize it right now – then eventually you didn’t experience it. You didn’t experience the experience, the experience experienced you. You were passive; you were wasted in the process.
Indeed, thus, when you experience you need to know what you experience, but it is supposed to work the other way as well; when you know, you have to experience what you know.
But, as aforesaid, in our world there is a separation between the two. They don’t work together; the awareness is directed towards the outside world, and our experience is happening without awareness.
Experience is mainly done by our emotions, which are in the inside, but we have little or no awareness of them, whatsoever.
People are usually not aware of what they are feeling. And the proof is their inability to express them in words. Sigmund Freud wrote that a man can be in love 6 years and discover it after many years. He could not express in words what he did not know. As he wrote in an article from 1915: “In order for the emotion to be an emotion – of course we need to be aware of it”. But mostly we are unaware of our most emotions.
Knowing is done by thinking, and is directed towards the outside and we are very much aware of it. We try not to bring feelings to the outside word. And not to bring knowing to the inside world. The common sense is that the emotions will cause disturbance in the proper functioning in the outside world. It is “ok” to experience and have emotions – after work, and to have knowing at working time, but not the other way around.
This separation is done by the social norm. Social norm is what governs our attitude, both inwardly and outwardly. But this is not the only governing factor; many people feel that knowing is spoiling the experience. There is a sense of “let things be”, meaning: “don’t try to ask too many questions and think too much”. Basically, there is a sense that getting lost in the experience is the best thing you can do, and that those who manage to do it are having a really good time, while those who ask too much are spoiling the mood for themselves and others.
So: what you know is usually disconnected from what you experience and what you experience is disconnected from what you know.
The wisdom is to experience what you know and to know what you experience. But instead, we learn (getting to know) mechanical processes, outer rules, and not about the inner and personal experience our lives.
A student goes to university to study. There is no experience-dimension to his study, he studies about things which he does not experience or feel (unless a woman is bending and he can see a part of her breast).
The same separation between experiencing and knowing exists in human conversations; usually what is being transacted in general conversation is knowledge. Dead knowledge, lacking personal and emotional dynamics. People talk about how to install an electric device, how much you can save if you buy this car, the latest diet, and so on.
Although experience and knowing are not communicating between themselves, they both are in separate dialogues with the ego. The ego always gets in the picture, and takes over; The ego takes control of the experience and also of the knowing. But it takes over silently, exists as a background noise. Yet with it, it gets into our happiness, our social, interpersonal, and competitive positioning in the world.
Overcoming this ongoing invasion of the ego is done by achieving inner life maturity. Inner life maturity is achieved by disconnecting the emotion from the ego and connecting it with the mind. (Not the brain, the mind). Either one to each other. The person who is mature in his inner life is replacing the ego with knowing. The aim is to place knowing in the center of experience, and the other way around. Just like the known symbol of the yin & yang.
But we experience them separately, as two edges of a pendulum; when we go to the extreme with one, we find ourselves in the extreme of the other. Separating the awareness from the experience is a recipe for sleep. In your sleep, you are passive, the dreams use your mind to project on it all kinds of stories. When you are awake, you are active; you are using your awareness, instead of it being used.
One should get something out of life’s experience, otherwise it passes away and one is left with nothing. One has to rescue something out of it, and this something is knowing.
It is a war; and usually the experience will win because of the social norm and our own wish to get lost in the experience. In order to rescue some knowing out of the experience, one must swim against the flow. Wrestle with it, not letting it be swept away before we take some drops of knowing out of it.
But, alas, nowadays one lives in some sort of schizophrenia; what one knows has nothing to do with what one feels. And what one feels has nothing to do with what one knows. One knows things one does not feel, and feels things one is not aware of, or does not understand.
We saw that there are two reasons for separating the experience and the knowing. One is a personal reason, and the other, social. The personal interest is obvious: the ego has taken control of our lives, and it robs the experience from the knowing. But what is society’s interest by separating the two?
Well, the answer is: control. The best way to control people is to separate their knowing from their experience. For then, they do not know they are being controlled, and since they don’t know, they won’t protest and won’t rebel.
But the ego and the social norm are not the only ones who wish to control the human, it’s also nature. Nature is using us just like society and the ego. And if a person does not stop and try to rescue out of nature something that he didn’t know before, nature will use him up, just like it uses all other organic life. Meaning that in order to know, you have to swim against the flow of three great rivers: society, nature, and the ego.
Real life is not in what happens to you, it is in what you manage to rescue – by hard, determined and rebellious fight – out of what happens to you.
In order to really live, you must go the opposite way. Struggling against the stream. And there is a great difficulty in going the opposite way.
Who are you? You are not what happens to you, you are what you manage to rescue out of it.
You have to create yourself, it won’t come by itself, and the material of the real self, the new self are knowings. A person needs to ask himself: life is passing by, what can I get out of it?
Life is using us, taking our energy, our youth, and our performance ability. All this is happening while we are running after pleasure and enjoyment. So instead of it – steal your future self from this fast flow of time.
To summarize: life is passing by and there is one thing that can stay after it goes, and it is wisdom. And wisdom is a net woven by many threads of knowing.
AWAKENING (from Siddartha, the first part, third chapter, written by Herman Hesse).
When Siddhartha left the grove, where the Buddha, the perfected one, stayed behind, where Govinda stayed behind, then he felt that in this grove his past life also stayed behind and parted from him. He pondered about this sensation, which filled him completely, as he was slowly walking along. He pondered deeply, like diving into a deep water he let himself sink down to the ground of the sensation, down to the place where the causes lie, because to identify the causes, so it seemed to him, is the very essence of thinking, and by this alone sensations turn into realizations and are not lost, but become entities and start to emit like rays of light what is inside of them.