reading vs knowing Vaidya_Sundaram at I2.COM
Tue Sep 18 03:27:45 CDT 2001

 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 "reading".

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 the
Any thoughts from list members?
bhava shankara desikame sharaNam
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