Knowledge versus Knowing
Inspired authors are well aware of the important difference between knowledge and knowing.
Knowledge is externally acquired. Knowing is internally received.
Knowledge most often comes from daily experience, and is subject to change.
Growing up, we first gain what we know about the world from parents or guardians. Later, school teachers, neighbors and peers are added to the knowledge mix. Books and media are also important influences. In combination, these forces solidify to form a mental box of ‘cultural conditioning.’
Knowing, on the other hand, comes from an inner connection with the Universal Source (call it by whatever name – or no name – works best for you).
Knowing can be experienced as intuition, guidance, or conscience. It is close cousin to the common sense or gut feelings which instinctively warn us to think twice about information supplied by expert authorities. Fluid thinking outside the box comes from the perspective of inner knowing.
Can knowledge be trusted?
Is it enough to depend exclusively upon existing knowledge?
I doubt it.
Certainly, from personal experience, I can assure you that making the effort to expand self-awareness has many benefits. Not that it’s an either/or choice. For me, the real challenge has been maintaining the delicate balance between externally acquired knowledge and internally focused knowing.
Actually, knowing isn’t a new kind of knowledge, though it seems that way when we forget what we’ve always known deep down. Knowing gets all-too-easily lost under the pressures of daily life and the overwhelming glut of information.
How To Access Your Intuition
The ancients developed powerful tools for accessing inner knowing.
Lao Tze, for example, author of the Tao Te Ching, was seeped in the wisdom of the venerable I Ching. Today’s authors would benefit as much from using it now as he did then. It is an invaluable aide in the quest for inner knowing.
It’s equally useful for balancing knowing with existing knowledge – integrating what scientists call right- and left-brain ways of thinking.
Again, from experience, the I Ching (translated as Book of Change) can be an author’s best friend. It serves like a catalyst to quicken dormant ideas. Working with it triggers flashes of insight, returning forgotten wisdom back into conscious awareness.
Further, for those of us educated into a limiting, exclusively left-brain approach to knowledge, the book functions as a door that opens to an unlimited new world. It confirms what the right brain knows, even and especially when the familiar everyday world does not.
The I Ching
The I Ching is an 8,000 year-old book of science. It is also a timeless gateway to magic.
From the Introduction to The Common Sense Book of Change:
The Book of Change is based on the science which the ancient Chinese devised to describe the interaction of positive and negative energy currents. Today we have similar sciences which study what physicists call electricity or electromagnetism. Computer technology based on digital binary codes is also similar.
The Chinese developed a convenient short-hand to represent polar energy valances. A broken line represents negative (yin) energy, while a solid line represents positive (yang) energy. No value judgments are attached to these terms. Complementary valences are simply mutually dependent forces of nature.
The text consists of 64 hexagrams – six-level structures whose opening and closing lines correspond with the chakras of yoga anatomy.
The number 64 is also not coincidental, as the hexagrams have been correlated with DNA science. Small wonder, then, that there is magical resonance with the Platonic-like ideas inherent in the changes.
Because the laws of natural change apply on every scale of magnitude, the book can be used to understand the seasons of nature, the passages of human life, the dynamics of social behavior, and even the duration of civilizations.
Taoism, Chinese yoga and traditional Chinese medicine healing practices all draw heavily upon the sciences encoded in this book.
Lao Tze and the I Ching
The world-loved Tao Te Ching, though mystical and poetic in presentation, reflects the science and underlying philosophy of the I Ching. Author R.L. Wing explains:
Lao Tzu believed that intuitive knowledge was the purest form of information. For that reason, he expressed his philosophy in the form of thought experiments — mental exercises designed to enhance and evolve the intuitive skills. In the Tao Te Ching, he compels us to use intuition as an equal partner with logic.
In Passage One, he advises:
To transcend mortality and attain sublime peace,
turn inward, releasing desire and ambition.
To manifest inner vision, accomplishing every goal in time,
extend outward with passionate conviction.
Unmanifest and manifest are two sides of a coin,
seamlessly joined, though apparently opposite.
Entering this paradox is the beginning of magic.
Jung and the I Ching
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung recognized that the Book of Change can be used to remedy a dangerous deficiency – a blind spot, if you will – in the scientific method for acquiring knowledge.
He enthusiastically sponsored the first genuinely useful English translation known as the Wilhelm/Baynes edition of the I Ching, adding his introduction to the text.
To explain how and why the book resonates so strongly over time and space, Jung coined the term “synchronicity.”
Accepting that there is more to knowledge than meets the physical eye, he recommended the book for facilitating a better understanding of the world and our place in it.
According to Jung,
Our time has committed a fatal error; we believe we can criticize the facts of religion intellectually… The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and produces curious specimens for the doctor’s consulting room, or disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.
This observation speaks directly to our increasingly more dangerous times.
The I Ching and You
I queried the I Ching to give you a small snapshot of how it works.
I keep pen and paper close by (a notebook or diary will do). Other than that, the initial steps are similar to the practice of meditation.
First, I find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. I breathe deeply and evenly to settle the mind.
Gradually, I leave the noisy beta brain-wave state behind, gently s-l-o-o-o-w-i-n-g down, entering into relaxed alpha and even receptive theta states.
The quality of the question – and its answer – depends on my attitude. So I release distracting emotions and banish random thoughts to be completely present in the positive moment.
Then I focus on choosing the question to ask for this article. (I’ve learned that once I finally recognize what I truly need to know, I’m half way home. Several times, I had no idea what the real issue was until I zeroed in on my question.)
After careful thought, I write,
What is the benefit of seeking inner knowing?
I go through the process of selecting the right hexagram, usually done with coins, and enter this information in my notebook. The initial reading represents the immediate situation. In this case, it is Hexagram 4, Inexperience.
This makes sense, for many authors start out being unfamiliar with the intentional, systematic process of seeking inner knowing.
Commentary on Hexagram 4 from The Common Sense Book of Change reads:
Problems now may stem from immaturity
rather than from any basic fault.
Decide on what you need to learn and seek out unselfish people
who can help you gain experience.
If your mind is open, you will not be denied.
Depending on the throw, the chosen lines can be either fixed or fluid. Here, the bottom four I’ve marked with an “X” are changing lines.
When I heed the warnings and act on the advice given for the changing line, the initial situation changes into a new one.
For example, the Direction of Change for the bottom line of Inexperience reads,
Change attitudes of thoughtless disregard to ones of respectful awareness.
I understand this to mean that seeking inner knowing necessarily begins with a mindful attitude of respect. The process then moves forward.
This particular answer is unusually dynamic. The presence of four changing lines indicates that many stages are involved in acquiring deeper knowing. In combination, they add up to an outcome very far from the original starting point.
After each of the four bottom lines has changed into its opposite, the end result is the Hexagram 30, Shedding Light or Brilliance. The new hexagram looks like this:
Commentary from Hexagram 30 reads:
By harmonizing the different aspects of one’s internal life
with family relationships and job responsibilities,
one can make the best use of intrinsic energy.
Organizing various inner energies makes it possible to act
creatively and dynamically in the external world.
Harness energy to worthy goals and projects.
In a general way, this outcome highlights the relationship between inward seeking and the achievement of outward goals. So here is the answer to my original question – “What is the benefit of seeking inner knowing?”
The process of inner seeking heightens creativity, increases existing knowledge and makes it possible to achieve worthy goals.
However, every reader brings a unique set of circumstances to the commentary. Specific outcomes depend on each individual author. The inspired Aha! is always uniquely personal.
Knowledge and knowing
Ideally, like the two sides of Lao Tze’s coin, knowledge and knowing are a perfectly matched pair.
Knowledge is the end result of extending outwards from the universal center – the path of manifestation.
Knowing comes from returning home along the inward path that leads to the center – the path of enlightenment.
But sometimes our store of acquired knowledge far exceeds that of personal knowing. Other times, the two don’t agree. What then?
I know that when I’ve gotten stuck on questions that would not yield before the force of reason, it became imperative to boldly seek out new knowledge on the far frontiers of knowing.
At those times, the way out of limiting mental boxes required help from the time-tested I Ching: a gift from the ancients to guide today’s mental explorers on their quest for self-knowledge in the regions of timeless inner space.
My best hope is that, when your knowledge and knowing seem out of balance or fall into conflict, you will find the I Ching as good a friend to you as it has been to me.
This post was written by Patricia West. Patricia is author of Rethinking Survival, The Positive Paradigm Handbook, The Common Sense Book of Change, and Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change. You can find her on LinkedIn or at Rethinking Survival.
It can be hard to balance intuition and learning. Which do you use, and do you tend to one more than the other? Let us know on social media.