I think one of our main problems is the miss conception of knowing, versus understanding. We think we know something about someone, and we act according to these thoughts of knowledge. We think we know, we are sure we know, we know we know therefore we act in a specific way. So if I know that the time now is 7 pm, and I know that I know that it is 7 pm, I will act accordingly. But what happens when I find out it was actually 10 pm? What happens to all of the things I did between the time I thought it was, to the time it actually was? Are my actions accountable for, just because I thought I knew what I knew?
What do we know and how do we know it? Where does this knowledge we have come from and why do we act by it blindly? We are taught knowledge, from childhood. At school, at home, from the television, we are in a constant stream of learning and accumulating knowledge. In fact, one of the first things they teach us is to listen to what our teacher is telling us, and not to interrupt or doubt that knowledge at all. When we ask too many questions, we are annoying and interrupting we get shut down We are basically supposed to listen to the knowledge we are given, take it in and turn it into our own knowledge, without question.
This creates a society of zombies, who act in a specific way, according to specific knowledge that someone passed on to them. They have never checked this knowledge, never doubted it, never asked questions as to its authenticity. Nope, they just took it in as truth, just like they were taught to do, and they live with that truth their entire lives.
I don’t know why but I have always been a rebel, ever since I can remember myself. I have always asked questions and have never ever agreed to take in any kind of knowledge without questioning it and researching it for myself first. The Buddha also taught us to question his teaching and never listen to a word he says, unless we have checked it out for ourselves first and have accepted it as truth. He told his pupils not to listen to a word he taught them, but to check it all first, for themselves, and if after that they did, they didn’t agree with what he said, they should not take in his teachings. Asking questions and checking out things you are told, before believing in them, is what makes you a conscious and intelligent person. It is irresponsible not to do so.
Asking questions comes from curiosity, which is one of the most important abilities we have as humans, but is also one of those ability’s that have been oppressed since childhood. When we hear about how curiosity killed the cat, we never want to be curious or ask questions again. But in fact, curiosity did not kill the cat, the cat probably fell as he climbed too high for his own good. Curiosity is what makes us human, it’s what makes us thinking beings. Curiosity allows us to learn new things about the world, about ourselves and about others. Without it, we would be boring and would never grow into something new. Being curious is one of the best things you can be in life and the best things you can teach your children to be. There is nothing wrong with being curious, it is essential for growth.
Once we are curious and start asking questions, we can also begin getting answers, and getting answers to questions is learning, it is understanding what we did not understand although we might have known. This is the opposite of just knowing. If you know something, there is no need to learn about it or understand it, because you know it. But if you acknowledge the fact that you know nothing, and that everything must be learned in order to be understood, you will start asking the right questions and attaining the correct knowledge.
Only by understanding others, can we accept them and live with them in peace. As long as we don't’ understand them, but are sure we know who they are and what they are about, we will always stay in conflict. I know him, he knows me, and whether what we know is true or not, is beyond the point. As long as we believe we know each other, there is no room for growth, for understanding or for allowing coexistence to be a reality. We are too busy fighting each other, based on our false knowledge about one another to stop and try to understand each other and each other’s motives and reasonings.
If for example, I know what it means to be a woman in the USA and I hear about a woman’s life in Syria, I will automatically think about her life, with the same terms I think about my own, even though our lives are completely different in every way possible. This thought of “knowing”, prevents me fro learning which in time prevents me from understanding and understanding is key to love and acceptance. But as long as I am sure “I know”, there is no need for me to learn or to understand. We must acknowledge the fact that we do not know before we can move forward and learn in order to understand.
It is a two-way street, to understand others, we must have the will to learn about them, to accept that we don’t know everything or anything about them. We might also discover along the way of learning, that we don’t know anything about the world either, or even about ourselves. In fact, we might even accept the fact that we know nothing, that everything we have been taught is the knowledge that we must doubt, before blindly accepting.
Be curious, ask questions, learn about things you don’t know or you think you know and discover how little you actually do. Discover new things, new people, new ways of thinking and living. Don’t think your way is the best way before you check all of the ways, understand them, and then choose your own way as the best. You might be surprised to find better ways of living, ways you were never taught or even told about. You might discover a new you, that you were never taught about, and you might even be able to live the life you deserve to live, the life you were never told about, the life you didn't know you could live but discover, once you started asking questions.
Knowledge is limited, curiosity and understanding are limitless, which one do you choose to follow?