I wrote the following for the 152nd issue of The Culture of Awareness Weekly Newsletter, which I offer for $11.11 a month.
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Some spiritual teachers discourage the accumulation of knowledge, because in their eyes, it’s yet another way to feed the ego and distance ourselves from our higher consciousness. According to their philosophy, mental (or even spiritual) knowledge isn’t as valuable as direct experience, which we’ll only have when we empty the mind and give up the need to accumulate knowledge or anything else that feeds the mind. The more we mentally learn, the more we distance ourselves from spirit.
This perspective is understandable, because mind-centeredness is exactly what separates us from our greater awareness. Most genuine spiritual teachers are focused on helping their pupils find enlightenment, which we’ll never find in the mind, so they’ll naturally discourage anything that makes the journey more difficult.
I don’t think we should abandon knowledge, however, because like everything else, it has its place in life and in our spiritual evolution. While I appreciate how teachers try to enhance their pupils’ spiritual perception by encouraging them to abandon anything mental or external that can block them from it, I don’t think abandoning the world is required to find enlightenment. In fact, I think it could cause us to miss out on the uniqueness of this journey.
Knowledge might not elevate our consciousness by itself, but it’s still useful. Why would we want to abandon it when it’s taken us this far? We probably wouldn’t know the things we do if we hadn’t learned about them, and especially when it comes to spirituality, knowledge can liberate us. There’s a reason people say “knowledge is power”, and we can do a lot to fix the current state of our world if we know a lot about it.
If we don’t know about the awful things that are happening all over the world, then we’ll be too blissfully ignorant to do anything about them. Our spirituality should probably be the most important thing to us (besides our family, of course), but if we use it as an excuse to be ignorant about the current state of our world, we’ll fail to make any kind of change.
I don’t think we should reject knowledge in the name of spirituality, and I suppose it comes down to how much knowledge we want versus how much we want to elevate our consciousness. We can do both, but we have to employ some kind of balance between them so knowledge doesn’t overtake the spiritual journey.
It’ll be okay if the spiritual journey overtakes our drive for knowledge (which will eventually happen), and to cling to knowledge or anything else that keeps us in the mind when we’re ready to take the next step would be to hold ourselves back and cause unnecessary suffering. Once we’re ready to leave the mind for good, the best thing we can do is flow with the journey instead of clinging to the mind or the external world as a whole.
However, we enable much worse suffering to occur in the world when we focus more on our spirituality than learning things that could help us bring clean water and healthy food to poor villages who need it, stop the criminalization of homelessness, stop the arrests of innocent people for “crimes” that are hardly worth arrest, or anything else.
We have a lot to do and plenty to learn about, but we can’t solve any of the world’s issues if we’re unaware of them. We can’t answer to injustice if we don’t even know it’s happening, and if you’re more of a spiritual seeker than an activist, then feel free to discard this entire article. Not everyone is interested in directly changing the world, which is understandable, and some would rather focus on changing themselves in hopes that the world can change too.
We have to do what works for us, but the socially and spiritually aware have a responsibility to a) increase their awareness, and b) use it to make a change. We can’t do this if our focus is solely on enlightenment or emptying the mind, but we can make time for learning, activism and meditation if we dedicate ourselves to all three of them.
Knowledge is a good thing, and the external world doesn’t have to keep us from enlightenment. In order to truly evolve, we have to get the biggest, clearest picture of our existence that we can, and we’ll fail in this area if we turn our back on the world in favor of a higher state of consciousness.
This reality (and the knowledge that comes with it) is just as important as the higher realms, and I’m sure more spiritual seekers will understand this as we reach a point where our society can no longer continue on its current course and we’re forced to become socially aware and make a change.
I think it’s inevitable that humanity will come together to change the world, because we’ve done a lot of damage and our problems can only be solved together, as one people.
I envision a world where everyone can work hand-in-hand to transform our planet, and once the transformation is complete, we can learn to live with it and its sentient creatures instead of destroying them for personal gain.
It starts with each of us becoming aware and fighting for change, and we can do this while we explore our consciousness and learn new things about our existence, the higher realms and the off-world forces who’ve been hanging around since long before our recorded history. We don’t have to choose spiritual awareness over social, and we can bring it all together under the banner of simple awareness.
We’re aware, and we can use our awareness to change the world. So let’s learn what we can while we’re here, because this knowledge plays an important role in our societal transformation whether we realize it or not. Together with love, it’ll allow us to transform ourselves and the world around us as we grow into the next stage of our existence.