Knowledge and Knowing by Stephanie
The difference between mental concepts/thoughts (knowledge) and experience (knowing)...
Earlier this month I had the incredible experience of embarking on a 6 month advanced training with Eckhart Tolle in California. Eckhart is author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Power of Now (translated into 33 languages) and the highly acclaimed follow-up A New Earth, which are widely regarded as two of the most influential spiritual books of our time.
While I have devoured many of his books and teachings over the years...filling my mind with mental concepts / thoughts to understand what is required to live a life of presence and purpose... this was the first time I was in his physical presence. WOW.
Words are not sufficient to describe the experience.
Life changing. Special. Humbling. Vast. Joyful. Peaceful. To name a few.
Yes, Eckhart re-iterated mental concepts and I gained "knowledge"
We experienced lovely meditation, discussion, reflection, and group work.
However, what impacted me the most, was the experience of simply being in his presence. No amount of knowledge, information, or mental concepts would come close to being in the experience.
In essence, what I experienced with Eckhart and my classmates was a "knowing". I actually felt his teachings, came to "know" them in my being, rather than in my head. The concepts/knowledge morphed into experience/knowing.
This leads me to what I want to share as it relates to you and those of you who are interested in our weekly meditation classes or any other endeavor that helps you awaken to life.
Over the years while teaching meditation there's tendency for people to want to have lots of knowledge and information about what meditation is, how we do it, are we doing it right, etc, etc. Lots of thoughts!
Our brain thirsts for endless knowledge and information in order to commit/believe. Our conditioned mind is so trapped in the doing of life, unless we know meditation is "doing something", we don't even give it a chance. We quit before we even show up for class.
The paradox is-- in meditation, we aren't "doing" anything. To take it a step further, we are actually un-learning and emptying the mind of information and knowledge. And so....
Similar to my experience with Eckhart, I can explain to someone conceptually (i.e. imparting knowledge) what meditation is, the benefits, etc. Basically giving enough information to help the conceptual mind "understand" and perhaps be convinced that it's worthwhile...because the mind values "information" and knowledge over "experience" or knowing. And this is what we must unlearn if we are to awaken.
However, anything I tell you conceptually is very surface level, appealing to the surface "I".
So while knowledge is valuable-- because yes-- the mind wants it and won't quiet down until it gets it...
The only true way to "know" something, is to experience it.
When we know something, we connect with the deeper "I" and have a connection beyond concepts.
Words become insufficient. Are you following me?
If you are thinking about trying something, stop. The mind is addicted to thoughts. Instead, try something. Feel it. Experience it. Get to know it.
Unless you experience meditation, it will be a concept. Unless you taste honey, it will be a concept. Unless you walk the beach in CA, it will be a concept. As in meditation, as in life.
We must unlearn that knowledge is more valuable than knowing.
When we are cut off from knowing, we are cut off from ourselves...and life itself.
Friends, this is what we must unlearn if we are to awaken and feel peace and joy in life.