reading vs knowing
sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Tue Sep 18 05:49:45 CDT 2001
One needs to separate - reading versus studying - we read news
papers -there is not much to understand - that is just information
gathering -- .
We study chemistry, physics, mathematics - This is not information
gathering - assimilating the subject to the degree that one can
understand the implications - this is just an intellectual
understanding. - or j~naana. All objective knowledge comes under this
category. True understanding even here involves assimilation of the
knowledge to the degree that one can see the implications as well. A
Ph.D. degree is actually a certification that the person has the
capacity to study or to inquire in the given field of study the
deeper implication of the facts.
What you are discussing now is with reference to adhyaatma vidya.
Studying the scriptures (obviously we do not read the scriptures)
will help us to understand the nature of the problem. But that is
only intellectual understanding. Since the nature of the reality is
not objective or is transcendental, one cannot grasp the truth by
intellect. Hence it is not just j~naana but vij~naana involving
seeing the truth as a fact - it is subjective -we use the terms -
realization - wisdom etc that is realization of what is known at an
intellectual level as factual. The gap between the two arises
because the mind because of its impurities cannot see the truth as a
fact- Hence the sadhana in terms of purification process needed in
preparing the student to see the truth as a fact as well. That is
what knowing as a fact versus knowing as a thought. vij~naana versus
> This mail was prompted by a recent discussion I had with another
>friend of mine ... I wanted to share it here in the hope of getting
>your opinions on the same. The central theme relates to reading vs
>knowing. The fundamental question is "Can one "know" by reading?" -
>this in turn raises the questions: what is knowing and what is
>reading. Knowing, I believe, is the state of awareness, of having
>assimilated the subject matter and internalized it to the point of
>being able to teach it. Reading is the act of (or process) of
>familiarizing one self with the subject matter in the first place.
>The gap between the two is self evident. Getting back to the
>question at hand, can one really know by reading?
> I believe that reading by itself does not make one know. It is the
>Guru's grace and His instruction that makes one know.
>The opponent argues that it is the process of repeated introspective
>analysis that makes one understand and the process of understanding
>maturing over time becomes knowledge.
>Again, I think the active state of being would still not "know",
>because the final gulf cannot be bridged. In support of this are
>some puranic stories wherein the story states that "reading" has the
>side effect of arrogance and where arrogance exists, the final state
>of being and knowing do not co-exist. Take for example the story of
>Durvasa travelling with a cart full of books making his way to
>Kailasa. On the way he meets Sage Narada who laughs at Durvasa for
>being no different from the bull that pulls the cart in the sense
>that both are carrying the load of the written word without either
>having assimilated it. In a rage, Durvasa dumps the books into the
>sea and that is when Shiva Himself comes as the Guru and instructs
>Durvasa into Brahman knowledge.
> However, the counter argument to all this is that, even when
>instructed by the Best of Gurus, Lord Shiva Himself, the student
>would have no idea of the subject matter unless he has already
>"prepared" himself and this preparation is by the act of reading and
>subsequent introspection. That the Guru is required for the final
>barrier to be broken is a mere "act" of liberation, where the
>liberation and "being" one with knowledge was already obtained by
>I believe the gap between knowing and reading is a large one, and it
>is the actual instruction from the Guru that makes one know and not
>Any thoughts from list members?
>bhava shankara desikame sharaNam
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
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