Knowledge as a Barrier
If you have followed my works, you would have known that Rome is a place of significance for me. I started my photographic journey there and simply because that place filled me with wonder and appreciation. It is so beautiful that I had to pick up photography just to document my travels. I think sometimes the reason a place can be so beautiful is because we don’t know its history and we don’t know what to expect. My background is in the arts and naturally I came to know of the works from the masters of the High Renaissance period and those were the only things I was expecting to see when I traveled there. I didn’t even had an itinerary planned. When I was there, I was totally amazed not only by the works of the masters but the architecture, the mood, the weather and the grandness of it all. It felt so epic that I told myself I have to return a second time when I learned how to properly do photography. Part of this amazing experience was due to the fact that I see things for what it is without any knowledge of what I am seeing—it felt like a child experiencing candy for the first time.
Similarly when I posted my photos of Rome, particularly those in Vatican city, I get comments from people who knew the history of the place well that said that it is one of the darkest place on earth where the walls are laden with the blood of many. I didn’t look up on the history to confirm that but I wasn’t interested in history as a subject when I was in high school anyways. That was then and this is now, whatever blood there were is but long gone. Many people died building the Great Wall of China and it didn’t stop tourists from visiting. History alone doesn’t stop people from wanting to see the marvels of the world, at least most historical places in the world are clean now—they are nothing but structures of stone and bricks. Whatever bad things that happened in the past are the results of man, the stones are innocent.
I do not belong to any organized religion and yet I am able to appreciate the wonders of the amazing architecture in St Peters Basilica. It is truly an amazing work of art if only one can see without any judgement. Just Michelangelo’s work alone is enough to inspire awe in me and my most favorite sculpture, The Pietà, can be found here. It is said that this piece was the only piece that Michelangelo ever signed.
There was a time when I thought that knowledge is power. It certainly felt like that when you think you know more than others and because of this perceived knowing, you feel more superior compared to others. It wasn’t until later that by understanding the ego, I came to realize the folly of it all.
“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
Have you ever noticed that in common education where you take a few years to graduate with a cert or degree, by the time you graduate, the skills and knowledge that you gain might not apply to the real world anymore? It will definitely be so for the simple reason of change. The only thing that doesn’t change is changes itself; everything is in a constant flow and nothing remains constant. Imagine after two to four years of education, how much has technology evolve? The schools are even having a hard time catching up with the curriculum and need to constantly send their lecturers for upgrading courses. Imagine the student at the receiving end after four years of learning old stuff. By the time the student graduates, things have changed. Television was only created in the last 100 years, look at how far it had come since the black and white days. Similarly the telephone was not invented more than 150 years ago, look at the smartphones now. The only real education is one that is constantly teaching and constantly evolving. Knowledge is the regurgitation of old stuff picked up in the past by the mind, wisdom is the application of understanding in the present moment.
When you truly understand that knowledge is a barrier, you will become free from the boundary and constraints of your mind. Knowledge creates a complete sentence in your mind, period, done, it is finished. It has no chance of extending and evolving into something else. When you truly believes in something but you have no direct experience of knowing, that is knowledge. It was passed down to you by someone else. That believing in something that you do not know closes you up, you act out based on your beliefs and you cannot see what is happening in front of you because belief itself is a thing of the mind; reality itself is impartial to the contents that is happening inside your mind. If you are open, joy and peace will pour through you from existence because then the miracle of wonder will fill you—the wonder you lost as a child.
When was the last time that you are actually curious about something and actually accept it as it is without going through the judgement of the mind? Imagine the difference between a child and an adult looking at the same seashell, the child have no perceived knowledge of the seashell, he thinks that it is similar to all things, mysterious, beautiful and wonderful. He gets all excited picking it up and collecting it. The adult because of his knowledge will say that it is just a seashell, he cannot look past the idea that he thinks he know what he is holding in his hands and throws it away. Do we really know what a seashell is and how it is manifested in our reality? We gave it a name but no one really knew where it came from and how it ended up looking like that.
Look at things the way they are and not the way you think they are.
There was an interesting observation recently when I posted a landscape shot on my social media page and I realized how knowledge has cause certain people to lose the wonder in their lives. Most people look at photographs but they don’t see. It is like the difference between hearing and listening. You can hear all sorts of sounds but they remain just that, noise. To listen is to lose the self and be totally indulged in what the other person is trying to say; if you are too much in the head, you will only prepare your answers and your speech, what comes from the other person is just noise. That is why so many people are talking and yet people feel as lonely as ever because there is no one listening. What happened was after I posted the photo of a beautiful sunset, I have people commenting about how the hills would suddenly turn to liquid and melt under your feet because of the recent earthquake tragedy in Nepal. She asked whether I would still think that the landscape is beautiful when nature starts to consume us. Another commented on how the swirling clouds are a result of weather modification program and how toxic it can be.
Isn’t it amazing what knowledge does to you? What is said might be true but the thing is, they totally missed the point. They look but they did not see. They look through the contents of their mind but they don’t see the scene for what it is. How can one be joyful if the contents of the mind is all doom and gloom? Do not be like a sponge and soak up everything that is thrown at you, we already have SpongeBob and one is enough. Realize that the ones who lives in the present moment are the ones that actually have real value to the world; they do not question the why and how of natural disasters, things they have no control over, they are already there to help in whatever ways they can when tragedy strikes—talk is for the fearful and cowardly. The fearful can go on regurgitating information that were imprinted in their minds and yet do nothing. The fearful might sound like they care but in reality they fear for their own life. If one is not going to do anything, it takes more courage to be silent. There is nothing wrong in not doing anything, at least one don’t inflict more damage in the world then it already is. The Chinese used to say that speech is like a knife, it cuts. Be silent if you have nothing good to say and that is being compassionate, don’t rub salt into the wound. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of world news, realize that you can either focus on the misfortune of others or focus on the good news that there are people who are willing to aid in disasters and tragedies all over the world. People who are present and meditative leave the world a better place than they found it and not add to the talk of making the world and life a catastrophe for others.
These are the so-called knowledge, a history of the past that has no significance to reality in the present moment but has been passed down through the generations by unconscious people. It infects because the mind loves drama and negativity and we wonder why bad news go viral and travel so fast. Wisdom is understanding things for what it is, it can be as simple as just see what is in front of you and act accordingly based on your capabilities. When knowledge is released, the wonders of the moment arises. It is as if you are a child again, seeing the world for the first time where everything is fresh and wonderful. If you really ponder about it, every moment is fresh and staleness only comes from the memories in your mind. Being alive until now, have you ever experience two moments that are completely the same? Nothing will ever remain the same, it either a progression or a regression; knowledge cannot keep up the pace, only understanding and acting through wisdom can because it is spontaneous and ever-flowing—just like life itself. If you really want to be happy and joyful, free your mind and do not allow knowledge as a barrier. Look at things the way they are and not the way you think they are.