Knowledge can be defined as an awareness gained through experience. But it seems to me that that definition doesn’t take it far enough...because I can gain awareness through experience and not learn a damn thing. I cannot, well, really I don’t want to tell you, how many things I have gained in awareness through the same experience that did not help me change my course...ever.
I think for me knowledge seems to be cumulative and also what I get after I have done a whole bunch of shit to fuck up my life. Let’s take drinking as my ongoing example: I drank, I loved it, I had fun, so then I did it again and again and again until I couldn’t do it anymore. And I was the last one to know that it was a problem for me. I thought I was crazy, I thought I was a bad person, I thought I was just totally fucked up, but I never really considered that I was a drunk. Until the day that I was smacked upside the head so hard with the unmistakable fact that I was an alcoholic. Then I had an awareness that I gained through a series of very painful experiences. But knowledge was not enough. At least not for me. I had to take knowledge a step further, which is to know that the awareness I had through my experience needed a leveling up, if this new knowledge were to help me in my life. And I think that knowledge’s next step is wisdom. Wisdom is what allows you to put knowledge into practice.
I can know a whole bunch of things: how the laws of physics work, how to fix my internet when it goes down, how to work steps, how to change a flat tire, but if I am not able to apply the knowledge to my ongoing issues, then it is almost worthless in my living reality.
Knowledge is great but it seems to only get me so far. When thinking about knowledge in relation to a love ethic, I think that knowledge is actually less important than wisdom. But I also feel like the two are completely intertwined and one is really dependent upon the other.
Life is going to give me knowledge regardless of whether I want it or not. I am going to gain awareness through my experiences. Like I know, through many, many experiences, that when I drink, bad shit goes down. However, if I am not able to apply that knowledge to my life, then it is really meaningless. Wisdom is what allows me to stop the cycle. I can see that the thought that perhaps this time it will be different, is folly. Because I can look at my past and see that while something awful didn’t happen every single time I drank, I can see that every single time something bad happened, I was drinking. My awareness seems to need another step for knowledge to be any good for me. I can know a lot and still completely fuck up my life because I do not seem to have knowledge’s next step, wisdom.
And there is a lot of pain in wisdom. Knowledge seems much more ethereal. I can know something or I can KNOW something. The later seems to have something more to do with changing how I live my life, like actual instructions. Whereas knowledge is merely a precursor to change. It is a vital first step, but if I never take it farther, I am still going to be doomed to repeat the same mistake, repeatedly.
For me, knowledge and wisdom are forever connected in a two step process. I have to gain the awareness through my experience then I have to be able to apply that awareness to the same situation and new situations which requires an element of faith. Knowledge isn’t really faith based whereas wisdom totally is. So knowledge only gets me so far and self knowledge even less far. I have to apply this knowledge as I move forward in my life. Which is hard and painful and sometimes, the very last thing I want to do. Ignorance is bliss, really. Well, unless that which you are ignorant about is trying to kill you, then it really isn’t a whole lot of fun.
For me, in this life, my life, right here, right now, I have to engage the knowledge with faith to practice wisdom born through painful and life altering experiences so that I can evolve. I do not want to only live, I want to continue to move closer to God. To work on my shit, to conquer the internal landscape of my mind so that I can perhaps work to assist others in doing the same. This seems to me to be the best, most loving thing to do with knowledge. Learn it so that you may share it with others. If that isn't love ethic in action, then I am not sure what is.