Knowing, in the Taoist sense of the word, is not knowledge per se. As chapter 15 puts it, Of old, the adept student was minutely subtle, open and deep beyond knowledge.
Times are different now. Our modern electrified pace of life is continuously updating every facet of human knowledge. However, this is not the case with knowing as contrasted from knowledge.
It’s All Gossip
I am referring to the difference between outward knowing, ‘gossip’ if you will, and inner knowing, realizing the larger context of your life—getting down to the bottom existential line. I suppose it seems a little severe to pigeonhole all factual knowledge as ‘gossip’. However, I’m contrasting the named possible to express with that which is not possible to express. The former spirals upward and outward, the latter spirals downward and inward and returns to the “heights”—The greatest heights exist below what we realize,
Seeing Buddha’s Four Noble Truths as an inward spiraling feedback process is helpful. The full meaning of ‘Whose self disappears before truth‘ deepens as “I” experience the preceding three truths on suffering and its root cause over a lifetime. We have to experience the self enough to see its limits, and nothing ‘highlights’ the self and its limits more than the suffering “I” experience. Suffering is the grist that grinds down our illusions of self, and pulls us deeper in…
This reality is as it has always been. However, I have to wonder how the information age influences this. Technological cultures place much more emphasis on facts—knowledge—than intuition. This bias displaces our appreciation and recognition for the depth of character and wisdom that experience brings. When life moves along at light speed, we can’t help miss noticing the scenery along the way.
In a changing world that continuously updates knowledge at light speed, it is the youth and not the elders who excel at keeping abreast of it all. This was not the case in ancestral times, where knowledge changed little, making the intuitive knowing of elders more noticeable and valued, I assume. Please note: I’m not saying times were better back then! I’m just pondering the nature of the changes that are taking place as humanity takes its great quantum leap forward.
“You’ll Never Catch Up”
During my time studying yoga in India, my teacher B.K.S. Iyengar told me candidly, “Carl, you’ll never catch up with me”. I’ve always remembered that because it puzzled me somewhat. In the first place, I didn’t feel I was competing with him at the time; I’m not a competitive person. On the other hand, I was certainly more oblivious then. I understood more than I actually knew; it has taken time for knowing to catch up to understanding.
In the last few years, his comment finally began to make sense. Age and experience factors alone mean you can never catch up with those born before you. It is not about what we know, it is about depth, and only time deepens this side of the coin—a humble ‘lower position‘ knowing relative to where you started at birth! This all-important experience factor is about how far you’ve travelled, not where you’ve been. This is the major reason wisdom cannot be passed on to the younger generation; they must ‘earn it to learn it‘. Just ask Duke Huan’s wheelwright.
The bad news is that the knowing clock resets itself with each generation. Yet, the good news is that the knowing clock resets itself with each generation. Balance is maintained.
Some Highlights of Taoist Knowing
- Without going out the door we can know all under heaven.
Without looking out the window we can see Nature’s way.
- All the multitude explain with their knowledge;
- Knowing doesn’t speak; speaking doesn’t know.
- Knowing self is rare, following self is noble.
- Knowing isn’t wealth; Wealth doesn’t know.