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 Post subject: Knowledge vs. Experience
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2007, 17:15 
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What portion of our life should be dedicated to acquiring new knowledge of how the world works vs. experiencing the knowledge that we have already acquired?

The question is based on the following assumptions:
- Knowledge is a prerequisite for experience.
- Experiencing adds another dimension to our life and is therefore preferable to pure knowing.

This question is becoming increasingly important in my life. Perhaps this is just a phase I’m going through, but I can see myself easing up on searching for answers (considerations of meaning and purpose and how to realise them) and shifting my focus to experiencing the wonder of the answers that I have already obtained.


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PostPosted: 18 Nov 2007, 17:48 
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I think experience and knowledge are two sides of the same coin.

I don't think either one does you much good on its own, adn that each person needs to explore each one at their own pace.

I don'tr feel a mad rush to experience a bunch of new things all at once is wise, and I don't feel that studying one thing in too much depth is wise, either. We should strive to have a broad kbnowledge and a few itmes in depth.

At least In My Opinion...


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PostPosted: 18 Nov 2007, 18:16 
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As Jess said, they are two sides of the same coin, experiencing something is also gaining knowledge of it, and to gain knowledge of something is also to experience it.

I may never have been physically present at a pagan ritual, yet through learning about it, I can say that I have, in a way, experienced it because I have studied it. At the same time, I do not necessarily feel that simply knowing about it is enough to fully understand it. You can best have knowledge of something only through experience.

To look at it from another point of view, to experience something is often not enough. You can still learn so much about something by studying as well as experiencing. How much more potent is the experience of seeing a play about an historical event (for instance) if you know the history that leads up to the events depicted.

Opportunity may prove as much a balancing factor in life as any other. Experience what you can, when you can afford it (socially, personally, psychologically, and financially), and learn about it when you cannot afford to experience it.


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PostPosted: 20 Nov 2007, 10:03 
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Thank you for your responses. I apologise for an opening post that was woefully short on context. Let me overcompensate for it now. I will present it mostly from personal experience and hope that it is more broadly applicable. I’m mostly interested in matters of worldview and how they enable us to grapple with fundamental questions in life. In this context, this is primarily the question: What is the purpose of our life and how do we go about accomplishing it?

It appears to me that a person acquires a worldview during their upbringing based on the exposure that they receive to various ideas and views. This exposure is typically quite narrow relative to the global diversity and the various factors that influence it (culture, technology, etc). Consequently, the worldview is likely to harbour contradictions that have escaped the person’s attention and is probably grossly incomplete.

As the person matures, their worldview undergoes more conscious and critical revision, replacing some of the beliefs and expanding upon others. For a person who is serious about it, this can be a long and intense search through various belief systems and schools of thought, scientific discoveries, anecdotes and personal experience. The obvious difficulty is that there is more information available than can be processed in a single lifetime. Yet the process needs to reach some kind of finality (perhaps stability is a better word) if it is to act as a framework within which we can live our life.

What interests me is how does one decide when one’s worldview is sufficiently sound, consistent and complete to ease up on the search and give equal or greater attention to actually living one’s life according to the principles thus discovered?

For example, if one comes to the conclusion that mystical experience is genuine and invaluable, the path that one follows in life will be radically different from the path that results from attributing such experience to a malfunctioning brain.


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PostPosted: 20 Nov 2007, 10:50 
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Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
In this context, this is primarily the question: What is the purpose of our life and how do we go about accomplishing it?
I think that's different for everybody, which is why my answer to these questions will seem sufficient to me but probably will not to you. To me, life is about learning and I accomplish that every moment of my life, even by writing this I am learning how well I understand my own mind and how well I'm capable of communicating my ideas, and where I find myself lacking I will focus in the future and work to improve that.

Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
It appears to me that a person acquires a worldview during their upbringing based on the exposure that they receive to various ideas and views. This exposure is typically quite narrow relative to the global diversity and the various factors that influence it (culture, technology, etc). Consequently, the worldview is likely to harbour contradictions that have escaped the person’s attention and is probably grossly incomplete.
Yes, for me it required years of work at dissolving it so I could restart with a clean slate. The fear and guilt were not helping me in my life.

Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
As the person matures, their worldview undergoes more conscious and critical revision, replacing some of the beliefs and expanding upon others. For a person who is serious about it, this can be a long and intense search through various belief systems and schools of thought, scientific discoveries, anecdotes and personal experience. The obvious difficulty is that there is more information available than can be processed in a single lifetime. Yet the process needs to reach some kind of finality (perhaps stability is a better word) if it is to act as a framework within which we can live our life.
Not for me. For me life is about the journey. I don't imagine I'll ever reach a point where I have completed the journey. As my life is about learning and I find more wisdom in the ability to learn from all situations that I come across than I find in stopping and teaching anything to anybody, I don't see a goal in sight.

Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
What interests me is how does one decide when one’s worldview is sufficiently sound, consistent and complete to ease up on the search and give equal or greater attention to actually living one’s life according to the principles thus discovered?
It's a synthesis for me. I will continue to learn and search as I continue to practice. I will say however, that there came a point in my life where I stopped seeking out more and more religious/spiritual material that constantly reinforced my beliefs, and I started seeking out other genres that would challenge my beliefs as I found I learn better through being challenged than through reinforcing my beliefs constantly.

At that point also, the teachings I may have sought out in the past began to seek me out. As I began to practice my world view more thoroughly, and polish it, people (spirit?) began to take notice and these things started coming to me without me searching for them.

Through both of those, I've continued to learn constantly while I practice my world view more than seek it out now.

Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
For example, if one comes to the conclusion that mystical experience is genuine and invaluable, the path that one follows in life will be radically different from the path that results from attributing such experience to a malfunctioning brain.
That's true, but I don't see mysticism as a goal to reach as much as a path to follow.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 20 Nov 2007, 18:10 
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I suppose I have to concur with Apsu on the points previously mentioned to a great extent. I do not think that one needs actually stop the search for a valid world view, in fact my personal belief is that this is very bad for maintaining an open mind.

As I grow older, I find that what was "sufficient" for me ten years ago, is no longer sufficient. On the other hand, as I grow older, I make smaller changes to the world view I possess, finding the already established framework to be stronger as it grows in maturity. On the other hand, understanding some of the "bigger" questions allows one to refine the answers to the "smaller" questions. In that way, the world view continues to change and grow, while perhaps maintaining an overall form.

In a way, Life is growth. If you stop growing, stop changing, stop thinking, you stop living.

I do not see that it is mutually exclusive to seek out a sound and consistent understanding of the world, while also living one's life according to this principles. Just because one has learned to balance and stand does not mean that they do not need to continually work at doing so. We just become so skilled at the act of walking that we no longer need to concentrate effort on it, freeing us to figure out how to chew gum at the same time :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2007, 03:33 
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Apsu wrote:
I think that's different for everybody, which is why my answer to these questions will seem sufficient to me but probably will not to you.

Agreed, which is why I wasn’t looking for an answer to this question but was using it to provide the context for my other questions. Thank you for sharing, though. :)

Apsu wrote:
For me life is about the journey. I don't imagine I'll ever reach a point where I have completed the journey. As my life is about learning and I find more wisdom in the ability to learn from all situations that I come across than I find in stopping and teaching anything to anybody, I don't see a goal in sight.

My life is also a journey without a finite goal. This doesn’t mean that every aspect of it needs to be in flux, nor is this necessarily desirable. For example, your view that life is about learning seems to be well established. This is what I was referring to with “views that are sufficiently final/stable to act as a framework”.

Apsu wrote:
That's true, but I don't see mysticism as a goal to reach as much as a path to follow.

Same here, which is why I described it as such. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 22 Nov 2007, 04:10 
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HavenMage wrote:
I suppose I have to concur with Apsu on the points previously mentioned to a great extent. I do not think that one needs actually stop the search for a valid world view, in fact my personal belief is that this is very bad for maintaining an open mind.

Definitely. What I’m talking about is deemphasising the search rather than stopping it, demoting it from the sole top priority in one’s life to sharing this status with other, equally or perhaps more important endeavours.

To extend the mysticism example, if we find it intriguing but aren’t sure what to make of it, presumably we will seek out the literature, people, experience, etc that will help us make up our minds in this respect. Once we decide that mysticism is the way to go, it makes sense that we will shift our focus from deciding whether it is genuine and worthwhile to becoming actively engaged in it and making it work for us. Should we decide that mysticism is just hallucinations, we will probably never actively seek out mystical experiences and will instead focus our attention on other pursuits. The decision what to make of mysticism is crucial, not because it constitutes the end point of growth, but because it has a definitive impact on the nature of the growth that takes place from that point onwards.

It is quite possible that I’m barking up the wrong tree and looking for sharp divisions where there are none, and senses of certainty where there is only gradually increasing confidence in the validity of one’s views. Do you feel that this is the case?

HavenMage wrote:
Just because one has learned to balance and stand does not mean that they do not need to continually work at doing so. We just become so skilled at the act of walking that we no longer need to concentrate effort on it, freeing us to figure out how to chew gum at the same time :wink:

Perhaps I’m taking the joke too seriously, but I’m struggling to make sense of it. It sounds like we should take what we value the most in life and let the subconscious handle it?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 23 Nov 2007, 14:13 
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Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
My life is also a journey without a finite goal. This doesn’t mean that every aspect of it needs to be in flux, nor is this necessarily desirable. For example, your view that life is about learning seems to be well established. This is what I was referring to with “views that are sufficiently final/stable to act as a framework”.


Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
It is quite possible that I’m barking up the wrong tree and looking for sharp divisions where there are none, and senses of certainty where there is only gradually increasing confidence in the validity of one’s views. Do you feel that this is the case?


Life is full of battles to fight. The main ideals in my life are learning, freedom and personal responsibility. Every vote I make, every dollar I spend, every conversation I have, basically every aspect of my interaction with the physical world is made with these ideals in mind.

But I chose these ideal's as what I would orient my life to fight for. There are others which are equally, or in some minds even more valuable to fight for and I can appreciate them, such as world peace, healing, environmental work, etc. Most of the people I know who follow some type of conscious path have these other ideals which we might argue about when we get together, for instance, I prefer freedom to health, personally and globally, and that can be difficult for some of them to get their heads around.

These were personal decisions which I came to through soul searching, truth searching, meditation and study. But they're obviously not stopping points, they're a launching pad for activity. You could say how I chose them was almost arbitrary. I looked at my life, at what I was capable of. I had a strong desire to leave the world a better place than I found it, and I had a strong desire for spiritual truth because what I was brought up with was not my truth.

Life beyond finding these personal truths and choosing my battles is in a constant state of flux, it's the way the universe works. From my personal view, the world always requires balance, and because of this it is always swinging, always in motion. My job is to learn to dance to its rhythm, not to cling to one side and try to control it. That's the mindset I'm writing this in, which is why it's written from a personal perspective rather than quoting to you what others might have said on the subject. I'm here to have my idea's challenged, my boat rocked, and to grow from that by learning to dance to a new rhythm which you might be about to introduce.

My ideals that I listed are not absolute, in fact I see that they very well might change drastically when my kids have grown. They have served me well in my life as far as it has gone, but when I no longer have the huge responsibility of three children to care for, personal responsibility may no longer carry such a weight in my life; when my children have grown and claimed their own personal freedom, freedom may not carry such weight in my life; and when my children have grown and I no longer have to spend so much time at home, learning may not carry such weight in my life. I don't know, but none of them seem valid to me if I do not keep myself open to change and finding that my path may turn at any moment.


gradually increasing confidence in the validity of one’s views

I don't even experience it this far - my views are open to be challenged and change. They were starting points for my path. I still don't feel like I'm answering your question very well, because I think you're talking about mystical practices that you can firmly rely upon rather than basic ideals from which one might start, but if that's the case then maybe you can expand upon the question. I'll look forward to that, but I hope my thought has helped to either answer the original question or clarify what the question is.

For instance (to maybe explore the question beyond my launching pad ideals and try to get closer to what you might be asking), starting from a mindset of freedom as opposed to inner peace or healing has led my mystical path into very different avenues. Someone coming from a perspective of inner peace might say, "Deny the ego," whereas I would say, "The ego is an interface with which the spirit offers us an opportunity to realize freedom, and the more fully you use it as a tool, the more fully you will be able to experience the universe and find a level of freedom which transcends the human condition." But freedom is dangerous, it has many risks involved and will not be useful to someone looking for inner peace. That understanding of mine is just one step along the path again, and I put it out here to be challenged and grow, not because I am dogmatically attached to it as an absolute. I found it through experience as I walked my path, and I continue to walk from the fork in the road where I found it.


Last edited by Apsu on 23 Nov 2007, 14:26, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: 23 Nov 2007, 20:23 
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And, Apsu, in addition, you may find later in life that a pursuit of Inner Peace actually becomes something of importance to you, though it is not at this time. Isn't life a wonderful thing? I find it is a journey of discovery, both in the obvious, external sense and in the internal meaning as well...

Hrvoje, to address your question, I do not see that there is a sharp division between the two, but rather a blending of them into one.

I do not believe that we should take what we value most and relegate it to some "lesser" importance once we have come to understand some portion of it. Rather, it is a matter of expanding the understanding of it.

If you take a person that is developmentally challenged and give them very precise directions on how to close a window shade (walk over to the window, take hold of the cord, pull the cord...), they may not be able to accomplish the task. On the other hand, if you just ask them to close the shade, they can do it. It is not a matter of the complexity of the task, but the complexity of how we view or explain it.

From my previous example, we do not forget how to walk, but we learn how to multi-task, walking and chewing gum. We can learn to seek freedom (in the way that Apsu values it) and still contemplate inner peace. We may not succeed at blending the two into one, but we cannot even truly seek to do so until we learn how to concentrate attention and effort in both directions. Once Apsu has strengthened the understanding of freedom, there is freedom to contemplate inner peace and how that interacts with freedom.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 24 Nov 2007, 16:22 
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Apsu wrote:
I'm here to have my idea's challenged, my boat rocked, and to grow from that by learning to dance to a new rhythm which you might be about to introduce.

I wasn’t, actually, but now that you mention it, I have started a thread on this topic here (at IIDB). Briefly, I see the circumstances in my life as a context that I can use for self expression – to demonstrate who I am and thereby experience it.

Apsu wrote:
I still don't feel like I'm answering your question very well, because I think you're talking about mystical practices that you can firmly rely upon rather than basic ideals from which one might start, but if that's the case then maybe you can expand upon the question. I'll look forward to that, but I hope my thought has helped to either answer the original question or clarify what the question is.

I wasn’t trying to focus on mystical practices. I used them as an example because they inform our decision of how to live our life, as do basic ideals, personal experience, scientific knowledge, and so on.

The reason that I’m enquiring about this subject is that I feel ready to move beyond the largely academic interest in the approach to life mentioned above to start actively pursuing it. This would entail cutting down on the general search for answers in favour of experiencing the answers that I already have. If you were to ask me why I feel ready to make this kind of commitment, however, I wouldn’t be able to give you a definite answer. It’s just a feeling.


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PostPosted: 25 Nov 2007, 15:00 
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in other words--- it's time to stop looking for answers and to instead apply the answers you already have found to your life?

In one way, that's a good way to verify if your answers are taking you in the right direction...


Last edited by jess on 25 Nov 2007, 15:00, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 25 Nov 2007, 17:11 
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jess wrote:
in other words--- it's time to stop looking for answers and to instead apply the answers you already have found to your life?

Not quite so extreme, but essentially yes.

jess wrote:
In one way, that's a good way to verify if your answers are taking you in the right direction...

Quite true. I’m fairly confident of this from their limited application to date. I’m more concerned about other paths that could be taking me in an even righter direction that I haven’t found yet. I guess that’s life.


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PostPosted: 25 Nov 2007, 17:50 
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I've always liked the expression, 'whatever path I take, I'm always going home'.

:D

I'd appreciate it if you'd share with us your journey from here on. It'd be a wonderful thing to watch.


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PostPosted: 26 Nov 2007, 13:58 
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jess wrote:
I'd appreciate it if you'd share with us your journey from here on. It'd be a wonderful thing to watch.

This sure makes me feel welcome here. :)

If you like, I can post the articles that I’m busy writing and that I intend to use to promote my upcoming book. They are loosely related to the topic of deliberate living, which is my main interest at the moment. I suppose they would fit in the spirituality section.


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