What is the difference between knowledge and experience? How does that relate to wisdom and spiritual awakening? In this video, Doug and Catherine Sensei discuss the imbalance between knowledge and experiential wisdom in our modern world. They share methods to address this imbalance by increasing your physical and emotional experience.
Enlighten-Up is a monthly livestream session with Dharma Teachers Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat. These candid talks on spirituality and awakening are to enliven and enlighten you, as the world spins in challenging times.
Knowledge vs Experience – Addressing the Imbalance
Examine the Weighting of the Education System
Our education system is mostly about knowledge – information, reading, writing etc. As soon as we get into the school system, knowledge gets more importance placed on it. Kids are encouraged to be competitive about knowledge and information. White collar, information based jobs tend to be favoured while blue collar, experience based jobs are seen as less prestigious.
The Apprenticeship Model
Historically, training in almost every profession was via the master-apprentice model. From blacksmithing to medicine, you would find someone who was good at what they did and learn from them. This master-apprentice model is a combination of knowledge and experience based learning. In the standard education system, by contrast, the experiential side is often lost.
We come from a Buddhist tradition that highly values the master-apprentice model. The spiritual teacher’s job is to make sure the student gets the experiences they need to fill out their wisdom. Students of spiritual awakening often think that getting more information or knowledge is the same thing as experience. We certainly encourage information based learning, but recognize that the experience of actually walking the path is what takes it further.
Knowledge is a Useful Map
Knowledge is helpful, it is like a map that helps guide you on the experiential journey. You can start with the map, the knowledge and information, so you have some idea where you are going and where you might get side tracked. But you actually have to go, and that is the experiential part of growth and unfoldment that leads to true wisdom.
No Substitute for Meditation
Meditation is unique. It is a practical gateway to experience spiritual truths in our organism in every cell of our bodies. We can read about spiritual practice and we can watch youtube videos about spiritual awakening. But it is when we actually meditate that the ‘cosmic penny’ drops and we know what we have read or heard is true ourselves. . We realize that awakening is an innate function of the human consciousness, and that experiential wisdom is a very different thing than knowledge and information about awakening.
Human Interactions – Family, Children, Communication
Another place that we can develop our experiential learning is in communication, relationships and our families. it is not enough to know about communication techniques or psychology. It is the actual lived experience, the back and forth of communication with others, that grows us. We work through things together, we grow as individuals and as a family, couple or community.
Experiential wisdom is grounded in your body.
The need to bring the body into play is very important these days, where people are spending so much time in jobs that are based on processing information, on the internet etc. We tend to place a lot of confidence in our minds, but this causes us to feel more insecure about our bodies and emotions. It would benefit us greatly as a society and as individuals to redistribute our attention and value to physical sensations and the emotions we experience. Its wonderful to extend your range of diet, romantic explorations, travel and physical experiences. This helps integrate body, mind and spirit.