Sunday, February 10, 2013

knowledge isn't Wisdom - what is?- Go the wise - Always - As an Individual & as a Nation


Over 40 years ago, I had read a beautiful saying in a Novel. It is approximately like this:

1.     He who knows and knows that he knows - is a wise man. Follow him.
2.     He who knows but knows not that he knows- is sleeping. Wake him.
3.     He who knows not but knows that  he knows not - is humble and simple. Teach him.
4.     He who knows not but knows not that he knows not - is arrogant. Shun him.
I loved this saying from that day onwards. 

The foremost requirement for a safe and smooth life is - to seek out the wise man and  seek his counsel and advice.  

But, how do you identify him?  He doesn’t proffer to  you individual, unsolicited advice unless you go to him and seek it from him. Unless the question in you is deep and sincere, You are unlikely to elicit a reply from him. You must have adequate respect for him. Lord Krishna was a Great wise master. His Bhagavad Gita is an extraordinary source of wisdom. Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, Gandhi were all such wise masters. Christ was one Great,  wise master in the west. His words in the Bible are especially and essentially great sources of wisdom. Buddha was a great wise Master. We generally talk of wise spiritual masters. They teach us the highest truth about life. Incidentally, they also teach  us the most proper ways of daily living.

Anyone who teaches you how to take revenge, how to satisfy one’s lust, greed etc can never be a wise master. In  presence of a true master, you will feel  peace and joy which you won’t feel elsewhere. But, if you are not seeking peace and joy, but are seeking revenge or undue profits or positions of power etc – you are certainly unlikely to seek a true master. You are going to a seek out a Fraud, who probably dresses like a spiritual person or like a tantric person, but who really is a fraud. Your desire is not for wisdom; not for a true solution to your life’s real problems; therefore, you will not approach a true, wise person.

Does this logic apply to other fields? Yes. It does, but with a slight difference. If you want a cure for a complicated and chronic disease, you must go to a well qualified Doctor – and not to a quack. He may be an allopathic or an Ayurvedic or of some other method. But, is he a well learned person, who knows the decease, its symptoms and its cures in his branch of science? Also, is he sincere to his profession? Some knowledgeable doctors may prolong the cure to extract more money from Patients. Some experiment on the Patients. In other words, knowledge by itself is not wisdom. Wisdom  must include ethics, compassion and  genuine concern for the other person and the society.

Likewise, a lawyer. You must go to a well-learned, experienced lawyer who would be sincere to your cause, to his profession and to truth. The test is always  like this in respect of all professions. Anyone who is not sincere to truth – is never a wise man in any profession. He is not a person who knows and knows that he knows.  One must draw clear line of distinction between a man with knowledge and a man who is also wise. The wise man’s knowledge is more wholesome. As earlier said, it includes professional ethics and looks at human welfare and not merely the client’s prosperity at any cost.

If we want to be happy and peaceful in this world and the world beyond – we must seek out the counsel and advice of such wise men. Adi Sankaracharya had said emphatically that –  seek out the company of the wise person; and it will automatically result in the highest joy and salvation for you.

The second category is the man who knows but knows not that he knows. How can this be? How can I be knowing; yet not knowing! It is possible. I may be running the fastest in the world. But, I do not know that I am the fastest runner because I do not know how others run. Likewise, many people may have lots of talents. But, they do not know their talents. They must be made aware of their talents.  A Great artist or scientist may be hiding inside you. But, you may not be aware. The brilliant example of such a person is Hanuman in Ramayana. Until Jambavantha, the great Bear-king told him his real strength and prowess, he did not know the same. He finally proved to be the best of all friends and disciples to Lord Rama. 

A nation should always be TALENT-HUNTING. It should always encourage its people to find their innate, real talents. Instead, many nations, including India, call large sections of people as genetically inferior and so on – and convince them – merely for political purposes – but this statement of theirs, is far from truth. Almost no section of society is genetically inferior in all fields. A few Individuals may be. But not whole sections of people. We must remove such mental and environmental shackles of all – and ask them, goad them, and even compel them to perform in any area where their talent lies.

The third category of people are – those who know not; but know that they know not. All of us have  limitations.  I may be a good singer. But, I am not a good doctor, Engineer or scientist. I can’t excel in every field of knowledge on earth. I must not claim to know everything under the Sun. If I need good advice on a medical problem, I must go to the Doctor. I must know my limitations. I have the humility to understand  that if I have a problem, I must go to a specialist in that field of knowledge. This willingness to admit our lack of knowledge in matters in which we lack real, clear knowledge is essential in life – to avoid getting into serious life problems.

The fourth category is said to be the most dangerous category. They don’t know. But they think they know. Or, they pose as if they know. Either way, they are dangerous to themselves and to others around them. While Generalizations are almost never true 100 percent – we must still say – some categories of people talk as if they are the experts in everything. You can see and hear such people wherever you go.  The worst thing with some of us as listeners also, is that – once a man is famous in one field – we tend to seek his opinions on matters in which his knowledge is close to zero. And, his ego happens to be such that- he gives you expert opinion on any subject under the Sun.
Politicians are one such tribe. 

Almost no politician ever admits to lack of knowledge in any subject. And, if he or she is in power, he (or she) enforces his (her) knowledge and lack of knowledge both, on all people. There are no gender differences here. Power  seems to make many feel like omniscients.  Where ever Power resides, there, this trait seems to enter in,  generally. One Dictator is reported to have said – my people have complete freedom – to agree with me on every subject! He doesn’t give them the freedom to disagree. 

But, if we read ancient epics like Ramayana carefully, we find that Kings like Dasaratha and Rama always consulted a battery of wise men, before taking any crucial decision concerning their Kingdom.  The one decision in which Dasaratha failed to consult was the decision to give Keikeyi the two boons, which proved fatal to him. Likewise, Ravana brought his downfall and his kingdom’s downfall by not consulting wise men in his crucial decisions. He also ignored the advice and counsel proffered by the wise men in his court and in his own family. Ditto with Duryodhana in Mahabharat.

Wisdom is most beautiful and serene.  It doesn’t speak to please us.  But, it always speaks for our welfare. Wee are free to accept or reject. That depends on – to which category, we belong!

 Innocence is also good. Innocent man’s talents can be brought out and polished – for his own and the society’s benefit.

Humility is also tolerable. He will seek the advice of the wise man. But pride arising out of ignorance is most dangerous. The proud man tends to rub his ignorant decisions on all people around him. He is not only ignorant but also usually proud, selfish and cruel.

Every Individual must understand where he stands in respect of each field of human endeavour and stop flaunting his ignorance as knowledge.

In today’s India, the tag - Celebrity – entitles a person to flaunt his ignorance in every filed as his knowledge. And, we do lap it up – because, we too are ignorant.

Life goes on like this.

When a man and woman fall in love, they think that the whole world is ignorant of their type of immortal love and theirs is the love of its kind happening for the first time in the world. And it usually lasts up to about three months of marriage. More than 50 percent of such so called immortal lovers fall apart in divorce within three years max, in many countries. A few survive to become more knowledgeable and realistic  in life. What survives late into life is the true love, which understands what really is true love.
Some TV Anchors question acknowledged subject experts as if they themselves are better than the subject experts.  Their verbal ability makes them seem to be better than the subject experts.  When someone acts thus, as the judge, jury and executioner,  the hapless expert becomes hopeless in his presence.

Why is it, that a knowledgeable person is not always a wise man in his subject? Because, his real interest lies in money, power, glamour, name and fame and not in his knowledge. He  lacks professional ethics and deep consideration for human welfare. Do we not know many such knowledgeable persons who are not wise?

Now – how is all this discussion useful to us and to the society as a whole?

You and I must understand our talents clearly and put our focus on them.  Also, we must be ethical and truthful. Whoever remains ethical and truthful, eventually becomes wise in his subject and also as an Individual. In one word, Lord Krishna calls it by the name KarmaYoga.

How is this to apply to the society and benefit it?

The most critical profession that makes or mars the future of any society is that of its TEACHERS. Every teacher must be a wise man, by definition. No one must be appointed as teacher – unless he is knowledgeable, ethical, truthful and compassionate to all sections of students equally.  

And, once a teacher is appointed,  he must not be tested by a bureaucrat, however high he may be – but only by a much better teacher. We can’t make appointments to the profession of teachers on other consideration, like caste, religion and so on and then, expect good citizens to come out of such education system. It is simply not possible. On the other hand, a bad teacher invariably spoils the character and ethics of thousands of students in his career.

I  had seen a few schools in which certain teachers used to address their students invariably, and almost always, by the epithet, “Hey,dog!” (in the local language) – and today, I find this expression is being used by thousands of people to address each other – and all are insensitive to its use. Many of them relish being addressed as DOGS! It is now the NEW NORMAL way of calling each other.

The urgent need for India is to choose WISE TEACHERS and WISE POLITICIANS.  Now also, we do have some good teachers and good Politicians.  But, these two categories must have only wise men. If we do this, India will rise to be a great, happy, peaceful, just and most wholesome place to live on earth.

Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavanthu


1 comment:

  1. I think it was Dalai Lama who said something like; "what you see in the world is dependant on where you shine a light".
    Unfortunately, shining a light on that which is good and true has yet to nullify the abjection and cruelty which is meted out constantly in this world.