Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Those who know

The more nearly our soul resembles the divine, the closer it is able to approach the model from which it was formed and which it ceased resembling when it became tainted by the material on falling to earth. Thought and deed conjoined are crucial. Faith means nothing, for we are too corrupted to apprehend the truth.

Iain Pears, The Dream of Scipio

Those who know are different. The difference is hard to pin down, the signs subtle. But you can often sense them.

Usually they are among the older, but not necessarily; a few are even teenagers, especially those who have scraped their minds on hard experience. 

The obvious question: know what? It is not about having built a skill set over the years, and certainly not intellectual knowledge, which can be a barrier to the knowing we speak of. 

Allan Kardec, the founder of Spiritism, wrote that "the farther man advances in the study of the mysteries around him, the greater should be his admiration of the power and wisdom of the Creator. But, partly through pride, partly through weakness, his intellect itself often renders him the sport of illusion. He heaps systems upon systems; and every day shows him how many errors he has mistaken for truths, how many truths he has repelled as errors. All this should be a lesson for his pride."

Those who know have shaken off a great delusion, usually under the tutelage of repeated or heavy sorrow. They know that this world will not give them what they need most deeply, however much it may give them what they crave. If they desire riches and attain them, their reward will be the goods of the world and the envy of multitudes. If it is power, they will be feared but not admired. If it is romantic love, there will never be enough. Pleasures on top of pleasures, satisfactions of all kinds, bring happiness that drifts and scatters like clouds prodded by the wind.

And, of course, devastating personal tragedies can quickly dissolve the idea of life in the material world as a playground.

This knowledge goes against everything we are taught -- by our educational system, worldly wisdom, popular entertainment, politicians, even "cool" churches; above all by commerce and salesmanship.

Those who know do not necessarily benefit from it.

Some become depressed, some cynical. They can be mean, cranky. Others still refuse to look in a different direction, insisting that there is nothing to learn except that life is a veil of tears. At most you can try to do some good and be remembered with appreciation after you die.

But a few of those who know insist on seeking the meaning of the new outlook that has seized them. They study the collected wisdom of mankind, especially the vast catalog of spiritual teachings and practices. 

They say, in words or the signals of the heart, "God, teach me what I need to understand by this change of vision." They refuse to give up till new meaning replaces the illusion that has passed away. They do not withdraw from the sense world or reject it, but see it in connection with a greater, more rarefied realm of Spirit.
Define your goal and exert reason to accomplish it by virtuous action; success or failure is secondary. The good man, the philosopher ... would strive to act rightly and discount the opinion of the world. Only other philosophers could judge a philosopher, for only they can grasp what lies beyond the world.
Those who know would best become, to whatever degree they are capable, philosophers.

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