Is Knowledge a Boon or a Curse?
Is Knowledge a Boon or a Curse?
“A wise man will use what has been invented in the past and produce something else for tomorrow.” —Sadhguru
Knowledge, Sadhguru says, is a certain accumulation of information. But is this accumulation a boon or a burden? Without knowledge, he explains, you will have to re-invent the wheel every day. However, if too much accumulated memory sticks to the knife of the intellect, then it cannot cut through anything.
Q: Education is most important, but sometimes you also say you have to drop knowledge. Is knowledge a boon or a curse?
Sadhguru: What you call knowledge is a certain accumulated information. Whether you want to cook your meal, manufacture a car, produce a great computer or build a building, this accumulated knowledge is important.
What you call as a cook book or an engineering book or a medical book is simply accumulated knowledge. If you do not make use of the accumulated knowledge, then you will have to reinvent the wheel every day. Only a fool will invent things which have been invented a thousand years ago. A wise man will use what has been invented in the past and produce something else for tomorrow.
One day a young student from a university went to a football match with a bottle of soda and popcorn in his hand. An old man was sitting there. He went and settled down next to the man, looked at him and said, “You old people, your generation, I don’t know how you lived. You guys really knew nothing. See, our generation, we have grown up with computers. We have nano-technology. We have spacecraft. Today we can communicate at lightning speed to anywhere in the world. You guys really lived a primitive life. So definitely you people cannot understand our ultra-modern generation of people. You are primitive because you did not have any of these things when you were growing up.” The old man heard all this and, particularly loudly so that everyone hears, he said, “Yes, my son, when we were growing up we did not have all these things. So we invented them. Now, young shit head, what are you doing for the next generation?”
Clarity, Not Conclusion
What has been known and invented long ago, you accumulate that knowledge so that you do not have to reinvent the wheel every day. You do not have to end up like a fool who is doing the same things over and over again. So, is knowledge useful or not useful? You decide.
When I say knowledge about life, we are talking about this life which is you. You cannot accumulate knowledge about this life because, from accumulated knowledge, if you come to a conclusion about life it will become prejudiced knowledge. It will not allow you to experience anything.
Once you have knowledge about something, you cannot experience it fresh. It is already a prejudiced conclusion. When it comes to doing something physical or material, you need knowledge, but to conduct life you do not need knowledge you need clarity.
So when we talked about dropping the knowledge, we were talking about life, not about various disciplines of life. To do medicine, to do engineering, to do music, to do this and that, you need knowledge because you have to make use of the past experience of life not just of yours, but of a million other people or a million generations which have lived on the planet. If you do not use that, then everything has to be lived fresh, everything has to be taken fresh. At the same time, if you allow this knowledge to encroach upon your clarity of perception, then you will not see anything the way it is. The old knowledge will constantly superimpose itself. Nothing new will ever happen to you.
A Clear Cut
To have knowledge and not be identified with it, not allow it to encroach upon your clarity of vision, is very vital. To see things the way they are right now, you must be free of knowledge. To know what was in the past you need knowledge. So knowledge is in your memory. If there is clarity; a clear distinction between what is your memory and what is the scalpel of your intellect, then there is no problem. If your memory is sticking all over your intellect, then this knife will lose its sharpness, and it cannot cut through anything. It is in that context that I said knowledge has to be dropped.
Intellect is like a knife: the sharper it is, the more easily it cuts through anything. If a lot of things are sticking to it, would it be sharp? Can it cut through anything? So if you know how to keep the past in the past and be aware of what is there right now, then knowledge is not a problem. But if you have no clarity, you only exist because of what you have accumulated in the past, you become an accumulation. Then knowledge is a burden.