Is it possible to know too much? Is there a point at which additional information becomes harmful instead of helpful? Many of us were brought up thinking that knowledge is power; and that, to continue to attain new knowledge, new information, is to expand our horizons and open doors to incredible opportunity. Although I believe that such a statement stands firm initially, I also believe that there is a line. When we cross this line, information becomes not only useless, but also a burden on the back of our spiritual awakening.
Within our world, we can see countless peoples, owning a plethora of personality traits. There is no denying our individuality; and born from this apparent individuality we find individualized eyes from which we gaze out at the world.
In a relative sense, we are all separate and seeing the world from different points of view, and therefore, we will need to walk in different directions to get to the same place; which is to say we will need to attain slightly different information to reach the same ultimate understanding. Given our individualized information-based needs, one begins to recognize the necessity of our many religions and systems of spiritual belief. For example, some among us will benefit most from the Roman Catholic dialect, others among us from Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Atheism or the system of modern science and so on.
Regardless of how different some might seem, all the worlds religions and schools of thought are saying the exact same things through slightly different tongues. This is a concept which I think we all know by now. Every tradition is trying to guide us away from suffering, towards bliss and ultimately closer to what ever we consider Divine. However, religion and systems of belief, although said to come from a realm beyond our own, are expressions of mankind; and mankind is imperfect by design. Therefore, what ever language we choose to use, which ever path we decide to take, will not be without flaw.
Throughout our personal and spiritual evolution, there will always be obstacles along the way. Some obstacles will be easy to see. Others will be invisible; or even disguised as fruits ripe for our taking. What interests me most, is that obstacles, and fruit for that matter, are ever changing entities. That which we see as a fruit today will be an obstacle tomorrow. The fruits of our effort which we regularly enjoy will one day become an obstacle to spiritual development. Nothing is innately as it seems.
We live in a world of duality; a world plagued by paradox. The most challenging of obstacles can also be our greatest of gifts. For me, and for everyone else, one ofthe greatest gifts, and most challenging of obstacles, is information itself.
Information comes to us (typically) through our five organs of knowledge: sight, smell, taste, texture and sound. Information is analyzed and interpreted by mechanisms of the mind; and it is through information that we come to know the worlds within and without.
We move through life with the purpose of attaining new information. We know, whether consciously or otherwise, that this attainment of new information is the only way which we will be able to move upward to higher planes. There can be no progress without the knowledge needed to take us there. However, in my opinion, and this is something we tend to forget, information is of two main types: Intellectual and Experiential.
Intellectual information can be attained through many sources, the most common being second hand sources such as books and external teachers. As the name would suggest, this information is handled by our intellectual mind – the mind that deals with worldly analysis and evaluation. You can think of intellectual information as potential, or unmanifest information; meaning information that has not been tried and tested by the fires of personal experience. Only when information is backed by first hand experience does it become experiential information; only then does it really have the power to alter our reality.
Take a look at philosophical system. Regardless of which tradition we’re talking about, or which sacred text we’re speaking of, all the information contained within these ancient scriptures is purely intellectual by nature. Even these words which I am writing for you cannot truly be of any immediate benefit. In this way, we can see that the Bhagavad Gita, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Bible and so on, can only ever serve us in the sharing of second hand information. Nothing contained within those holy pages will bring you any closer to the goal, until it is backed by individual experience.
Unfortunately, the majority of spiritual aspirants think that by gaining more and more new knowledge on the in’s and out’s of spiritual life, that they are getting closer and closer to the goal. However, when we live our lives like scholars, seeking understanding through the things we read about in books, we become beings of logic, beings whom are unable to access our once natural emotions. For me, it is a constant battle to retain balance between logic and emotion. Especially on the subject of subtle spiritual practices, I am drawn towards the path of knowledge. I want to know all that there is to know; and the weird thing is, that the more I know, the less I feel.
Information, when taken in excess, will eventually cloud your mind. Feel free to replace this word with what ever feels more suitable; in summation, we can say – God is the One who can never be understood, and yet He can be embraced by the heart. You will never know God, but you will feel him if the inner instrument is properly tuned.