KNOWLEDGE IN TIME AND SPACE
When we look around the world that we inhabit, we discover individual entities interacting in various ways. We set about determining their nature and characteristics, making divisions and organizing into territories. We classify and make categories; we refine our initial stands into theories, rules of thumb, and philosophies. We project our views out into reality, juxtaposing our opinions and interpretations to establish certainties.
We have already explored the underlying mechanisms and structures that sustain these ways of knowing. In terms of how we know, however, the fundamental structure relates to the position that we take up in regard to the world that we observe and make use of. We are 'bystanders' to reality. We stand outside the flow of what is happening, struggling to make sense of it.
As bystanders, we start from a position of not-knowing and never really advance beyond it. Situated at a distance from what needs to be known, we cannot wholly bridge the gap. Our knowledge is limited accordingly. It is like designing a dress for someone we have never seen, based on descriptions and rumors. We use our best imagination, formulate our best hypotheses, make our best comparisons, and hope that the dress fits. What more can we do?
Once our fabrications are put in place, we make new experience accord with them and act on the basis of the values and certainties they proclaim. We act to make our views conclusive: to establish truth, reality, and the absolute. We force the multiple dimensionality of what arises into the mold of what we have already claimed and proclaimed. We let our ideas define our experience and give character and characteristics accordingly. Perhaps appearance itself could lead the mind to knowledge, but that is not our way; instead, we make what appears follow the lead of the bystander mind.
This juxtaposition of what we hold to be true proceeds without interruption. Even though we are constantly asking what is new, we base our lives on what is old and established - on fixed ideas and principles and positions. We embody whatever subjective views are foremost in our minds and interpret meaning and value accordingly; we pursue the course they set and look for further modes of projection. Starting as bystanders, we become 'bias-standers', maintaining our particular version of reality above all else.
Structure of Not Knowing
These patterns hinder our efforts at clarity and obstruct our attempts to deal with our difficulties. In every field of knowledge, we subordinate experience to the governing concepts and models, or else let previous outcomes and future expectations pull us away from the present. We insist on structures of dichotomy that turn away from the complexity of the multidimensional: heaven and hell, sacred and profane, right and wrong, happiness and suffering, truth and falsity, hope and fear.
Active at the root of our knowing, such patterns undermine our efforts to discover a different way of knowledge. Insight is soon integrated with the established, while intuition leaves intact the positions that shape conventional knowledge. We may cultivate sensitivity to the flow of feelings or energy within and around us, but our experience still lacks penetrating clarity. Our spontaneous actions must be harmonized with the code of ethics in operation; our demands for justice advance one claim in opposition to another. Our declaration of rights confirms the existence of wrongs; our struggles for peace assure conflict and frustration; our calls for reform prove that someone else is in control. Each question becomes a claim, each claim a battle, each battle a question of power. Reform and revolution metamorphose through time until they stand revealed as a recycling of the status quo.
Most important of all, this way of knowing undermines our conscious efforts to go beyond it. When we attempt to understand the workings of mind and awareness, we use the very patterns under investigation as the fundamental tools for inquiry. When we discover indications that a higher or more encompassing knowledge is in operation, we refer them to a source situated in the realm of the absolute, making them inaccessible to direct experience and investigation. Visionary knowledge is swept aside or reduced to routine, subverted by the structures of dichotomy. Knowledge that responds to deeper rhythms and possibilities falls by the wayside.
As an indication of how pervasive these patterns are, it should be noted that they apply with full force to the present discussion. Certain ways of knowing are designated as inadequate, with the implication that they should be discarded or replaced; certain values are assigned, inviting a particular response that will induce a particular course of conduct. We start from the established and seem obliged to move within its confines.
Bound to a list of dichotomies that could be extended indefinitely, we can never truly be 'in the right'. Whatever choice we make, we conform to a knowledge thought out for us in advance. To play our role, we must discard a part of what we are or might be, what we know or could know.
In this way of knowing, we accept that our own thoughts and own mind as such do not have intrinsic value; do not carry knowledge. It is positions that we affirm as right or wrong: not the telling of the story but its outcome. Not-knowing is elevated to a fundamental principle, the original position from which each of us must start. Since this is so, we are in the wrong until proven to be in the right. Our pain, our confusion, our agitation all confirm our own shortcomings. Perhaps we can seek refuge in something beyond ourselves, but this means giving up on our own capacities. Or perhaps there is no refuge, and then our situation is truly hopeless.
As long as we are bound to the patterns of the bystander, it is difficult to imagine how this way of being could ever change. For instance, suppose we resolve to overcome our sense of being separate from our own experience and our surrounding world. Now there is something we must do; something we must obtain or become. We have to collect or improve or accumulate, to make better or reject or temporize. Without meaning to, we perpetuate an orientation that assures continued separation. The models we adopt rely on derivations based on 'from' and 'to' that inevitably restrict the knowledge available 'here' and 'now'. The change we pursue will come too late.
In all this, we have no choice. It seems we must go step by step: learning, applying, improving, and at last attaining the goal. We grow in this way; we build in this way; we worship in this way. From the outset we are outsiders; repeatedly taking stands, we affirm that we are bystanders. We have no other way to be.
Knowledge into Knowledge
Somehow we have taken on a thankless and unrewarding job. Convinced that it is up to us to be the founders of knowledge in the universe, we have felt obliged to assert our claims to knowledge, even when we know on a deeper level that they are unfounded. Not knowing directly, we have felt compelled to guess and to pretend, fooling ourselves as well as others. Cut off from our embodiment in space and time, we have nonetheless appointed ourselves spokespersons for time and space and knowledge. Aware of our limitations, we have decided to insist on the small portion of knowledge that we can claim as our own, even if this means accepting as inevitable the endless not-knowing that surrounds it.
Yet these prodigious efforts are not needed. The job we carry out exists only in our description of it. We do not need to speak for time and space, for if we know how to listen, time and space speak for themselves. We do not have to proclaim our portion, because we are already inseparably related to the whole.
When we discover that this is so, a tremendous burden is lifted from our shoulders. We can stand up straight, stretch, and take a deep breath. With the very first step we take, we can let go of the knowledge that we possess and merge with a knowledge that transcends all positions. We can embody this knowledge in ways that are concrete and specific, showing time, space, and knowledge in operation.
In laying down the burden of bystander knowledge, we lose nothing of value. 'My' knowledge and positions form a part of the emerging whole, and so remain available. That is the beauty and freedom of knowledge: It rejects nothing and encompasses all manifestations.
Knowledge frees appearance from the claims of truth and transmits the beauty of the true. Whatever qualities manifest beautify knowledge; whoever acts with clarity is a bearer of knowledge. Although we act on the basis of our limitations; although we make false interpretations and enact a restricted understanding, knowledge continues to be available. We can turn away from knowledge, but we cannot injure or confine it. The limits on our own comprehension are not limits on universal knowledgeability.
Key to Knowledge
How can we know that knowledge is directly available? Must we accept it on faith? Must we give credence to certain parts of our experience while rejecting the significance of others? What is the basis for making this distinction? How can we trust the knowledge that tells us to do so?
The answer in a sense is simple: We can learn to listen to knowledge in all its manifestations, from the most practical to the most sublime. As we grow accustomed to hearing the voice of knowledge within appearance, issues of trust and confidence will clarify themselves. An inner dynamic enacted by knowledge itself will point the way to knowledgeability.
Let us take a concrete example. Centuries ago the idea of property was little developed, and trade was conducted informally or in the context of other interactions, based on little more than agreement that certain goods had value. Starting with something as simple as a handful of salt or a string of beads, trade gradually expanded. Merchants developed their own concern and ways of life, and evolved their own way of seeing the world and attempting to protect their interests. From these beginnings, the whole system of finance took form, and in time the science of economics, the law of corporations, and many other disciplines as well. Today no
branch of human knowledge is wholly unaffected by these forms of understanding.
From similar humble beginnings, the great domains of knowing have likely taken form: philosophy and psychology and religion and science - each making its own contributions to the welfare of human beings, each embodying different manifestations of knowledge. In fact, knowledge appears in all our projections and interpretations, all the structures we adopt and the views we espouse. Even the study of what we value as knowledge at different times and in different circumstances is a source of knowledge.
We could understand this circumstance as demonstrating only what is self-evident: Whatever we learn is knowledge. But there is more at stake than that. From the point of view of knowledge, we can put it this way: Knowledge is knowable. In the particulars of what presents itself, knowledge makes itself available: not as object for a bystander, not as some thing to be known by some body, but as the intrinsic-knowledgeability of the whole. The usual structures of language do not easily accommodate such availability, independent of subject and object, but we can speak of knowingness and knowability; we can refer to knowledgeability. We can also put in this way: Within every appearance, we are already in contact with the Body of Knowledge.
It may be difficult to discover the boundless availability of knowledge, for our own efforts to accumulate knowledge can only proceed little by little, in a process that goes on endlessly. This is especially true today,
when knowledge is structured so that it constantly proliferates. As the facts available to be known expand exponentially, the interconnections that could lead us back to the whole are buried or forgotten. Yet knowledge by nature invites knowledge, and knowledge accumulates accordingly, in a natural progression that signals the presence of the Body of Knowledge.
Once we give up our insistence on owning knowledge, we recognize that when we receive, achieve, seek, or inquire, this is knowledge. Soon we notice that results and achievements come without depending on our efforts. As we learn to see through our own limits, we discover that we have the capacity for inspiring vision and creative imagination in ourselves and others. Some who have seen this dynamic at work have called it love or truth; others have spoken instead of wisdom or beauty or blessing. It does not matter: Labels do not confine knowledge, nor do words bring it to a halt.
We can also discover the availability of knowledge in the ways that knowledge manifests through time. There are times when new knowledge emerges unexpectedly, times when it plays a vital role in an era of expansion and discovery, and other times when it seems to lose its vitality and value. The same knowledge may be used quite differently as circumstances alter, or may grow and change, taking different forms in response to different conditions. If we study the history of these changes - how we use knowledge and make it available, how we educate ourselves and others - we traverse a field of knowledge that reveals the Body of Knowledge in action.
Birth of Wisdom
Although there is no original tracing of knowledge source that it must conform to - the Body of Knowledge can manifest with more or less refinement, in ways that are more or less comprehensive. We can become skilled in facilitating knowledge accordingly. For example, we can learn to feed knowledge back into itself, developing greater complexity. Such a re-dividing becomes dynamic creation: a progressive revealing of the Body of Knowledge.
As we come to understand its unique quality, knowledge shines forth. What we know becomes the carrier for knowledge, dynamically stimulating and inviting a knowledge that is more than global. The ultimate outcome is the birth of wisdom.
To let knowledge arrive at wisdom, we can set aside all judging. We can abandon our attempts to capture appearance by dividing and classifying. We know too well what it is like to stand outside, the self-appointed spokesperson, proclaiming and announcing and attempting to pronounce into being, and we know that this is not the path to wisdom.
The active alternative to these approaches is to invite and embody knowledge by turning inward toward time and space. Our being 'in' time, space, and knowledge can become the subtleties 'of' time and space and knowledge. We can connect with ourselves: our body, our time, our experience, and our embodiment.
Cultivating knowledge in this way, we need not develop precise definitions of the terms that we use: not even the terms 'time' and 'space' and 'knowledge'. Although this is our usual way of knowing, the quest for such clarity can actually undermine inquiry. Our definitions can pluck knowledge prematurely off the vine, preventing it from ripening into wisdom.
Once we can let go of our concern with reporting back every step of our progress, we have the opportunity to invite a deepening knowledge. As we extend and advance and elaborate, innovate and sustain and crystallize, we activate the inward, indeterminate knowledge of eknosis. It is like suddenly learning how to fly: Before we advanced in a mechanical way; now we can soar and float and sweep and swoop.
Knowledge is the giver of wings and the worker of wonders; the magician who performs feats so astounding we have never imagined them. The profound contributions that have come through knowledge in the past can be matched today. There are countless pathways: Inquiry and meditation, art, philosophy, experiment, and prayer. Access is there if we ask for it.
Knowledge works its magic even now, in offering us the mysterious gift of knowledge. Until now we have known this and not known it. We have made efforts without certainty of success; have experienced advances and setbacks; have sought guidance or asked for blessings. Now we can look ahead with newfound confidence, for we know the great secret: Knowledge gives us the key to knowledge.
Dynamics of Time and Space