Knowledge and Meditation. Part I

There are different types of knowledge. The knowledge that most of us have is rational knowledge, derived from the logical region of the mind. We nearly always act from this part of the mind and assume that the highest and only form of knowledge is rational. In fact, intellectual knowledge is almost worshipped

by people throughout the world, yet it is only relative knowledge derived from a limited number of facts and figures. From this we deduce theories, concepts and other ideas. This is the way we reason in scientific, technological and philosophical fields.

Each of us makes the mistake of assuming that logical answers are infallible. We are habituated to believing that logical answers are the only answers. We fail to realize the fallacy that because the facts from which we derive the answers are limited, so also the answers in turn must be inadequate. It is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that all the facts are in front of us, and hence the conclusion we reach through reasoning is absolutely correct. The natives of darkest .Africa a few centuries ago must have automatically assumed that all men were dark skinned, for they had never seen a person from another race. Then they saw the white skinned explorer, which destroyed their simple logical deduction.

Then they had to say that men were both dark and light skinned, but then they met yellow skinned men and again they had to update their rational thoughts on the skin colours. It is the same with scientific theories. They are always being changed in the light of new data that becomes available. When Newton expounded his theory of gravitation it became an almost infallible law. Even today in schools it is regarded as the truth, yet many years ago Einstein proved that it was incorrect. Newton’s theory was shown to be wrong in the light of new information. This is continually happening, yet all of us tend to assume that rational deductions are infallible.

It is the same with everyday rational thinking; it is only correct in relation to the facts that we have in front of us. We make decisions all day in rational terms, but they are only true in a relative sense. For example, a man asks the way to the farm where Mr. Smith lives. We give directions with certainty and clarity, yet we are totally wrong, as the man eventually finds out. Tbe Smith family, unknown to us, moved to another part of the country one week before. Had we known this we could have given a more correct answer, but we did not and so our logical deduction was completely wrong. In a strange country far away, the inhabitants have an unusual method of giving directions. Their sense of logic is slightly different to other people in surrounding countries. Ask them where Mr. Smith’s farmhouse is and they will reply something like the following: “You walk for half an hour down this road until you see a brown cow in the field; there you turn right and walk until you meet Mrs. Brown going for her early morning stroll. Keep on walking and the house that you want will be the one that you see when you hear an owl hooting good luck.” The person has made the same journey himself once, and because of his particular form of reasoning he assumes that your experiences on the journey will be the same as his. You will have great trouble finding the house that you seek, let alone finding the cow in the first place. Yet this is a logical deduction, but in a severely limited sense. The man giving the directions is not aware of the fact that his experiences on the journey will be different from yours. Logical or rational knowledge is relative and can only give relative truth.

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