Are we really educated?
In my line of work, I am often asked by up and coming Spiritual entrepreneurs if diplomas and certifications are necessary in order to create a successful business which serves others at a high level.
I usually answer by asking them if they are aware of the fundamental difference between knowledge and intelligence. Once the answer to this question is understood, they become aware that diplomas and certifications are not necessarily symbols of one’s intelligence, but rather symbols of one’s memorization skills.
To understand this more clearly, we must first examine the vast difference between Self-Knowledge and traditional knowledge. One stems from intelligence; the other stems from facts.
Traditional knowledge requires some-thing, and that thing is memory. In the case of Self Knowledge, the opposite is true. Self Knowledge requires no-thing. It simply is pure conscious awareness. It is intelligence; it is indeed gnosis.
Gnosis is a Greek word, which literally is translated as ‘knowledge’. It is not the kind of knowledge that deals with factual or scientific data, but rather a deeper, intuitive knowing of subtle elements and powers that relate to what we call consciousness.
In 2017, after attending a year-long series of weekly lectures given by Dr. Stephan Hoeller, he and I arranged to do an interview. Being that he has authored 5 books, and is a retired professor of Religious Studies at the College of Oriental Studies in Los Angeles, I was curious as to what he would say when asked the question, “What limitations, if any, do facts possess?” Humbly, he referred to the Buddhist Lama Anagarika Govinda, who when asked this very same question replied, “Facts are not very interesting because they are finished, they have happened already. A fact is something that is of the past. There is no true creativity inherent in a fact. A fact, once recognized, becomes what we call ‘the way it is’ but then you have to go on to something else, perhaps another fact. So you see, facts are somewhat overrated in our culture. Yet, when we are dealing with Gnosis, we are dealing with a realm, a reservoir of insight. An insight-producing consciousness.”
We can see that traditional knowledge, although extremely useful with its facts and scientific data, remains limited. For it must be memorized before it can become the known. Therefore, the ‘known’ is never fresh or new because it requires memory to exist. The words “I know” translate more accurately to “I remember”. It is critical that we do not lump memory and intelligence together; they are not synonymous. Traditional knowledge is never your own; it is always borrowed and unoriginal. Traditional knowledge can be given to you; intelligence cannot. To access intelligence you must have freedom from the known; you must be present. For intelligence resides in the moment, it is conscious, it is original, and it is yours to create with as you see fit.
It is essential if one wishes to avoid an ignorant reality, that they first attain Self-Knowledge. Clearly, we must first be aware of that which knows, before we can truly know anything at all. Otherwise, ‘all we know’ leads to ignorance.
That being said, we must be careful not to idolize credentials, diplomas, or degrees, without first becoming aware if their owner has any actual intelligence. No doubt, formal education has produced some of the world’s most established and well-versed individuals. Yet, there are countless professionals, teachers, and authority figures who have received master’s degrees and still fail to embody any genuine intelligence. This is due in large part because our educational system fails to recognize the fundamental truth that Self-Knowledge is the ultimate form of knowledge, for it leads to Universal Knowledge. Our system of education fails to introduce students to the importance of cultivating Self-Knowledge. Rather, it lulls them into a false sense of well being by providing them with credentials in order to maintain the status quo within the workplace.
Our educators have lost sight that training a student to obediently memorize and regurgitate data does not lead to higher learning; it leads to a fixed mind. A healthy mind must be open and flexible, otherwise, it becomes rigid and closed off to the ever-present flow of Universal Intelligence. A mind which is closed has no other option but to perceive life solely through the fixed lens of knowledge. This is extremely tragic because when knowledge begins to dictate our perception of reality, we become enslaved by the very thing that was designed to serve, ultimately making us prisoners of our own knowledge.
I am sure we have all encountered individuals who claim to ‘know’ the correct answer to something simply because they have received a degree in that field. Yet, quite often, when they are challenged to produce the correct answer, they fail. This is not because they are stupid, it is because they are relying solely upon their stored knowledge, instead of the necessary intelligence that can only be found in the present moment. In many instances, once a student has become ingrained with the ‘known’, they lose their ability to receive the intelligence that exists within the ‘unknown’. Thus, if someone says, “I ‘know’ because I am educated,” it is most likely code for, “I have unwittingly surrendered my innate intelligence for an institutional indoctrination.”
We can now see that intelligence flows through inspiration and imagination, more so than through the repetition of facts. Independent studies have shown that when we allow our imagination to run free, we literally create new synaptic connections and neural pathways in the brain. We increase our intelligence and stimulate the brain by generating creative, original ideas. Ironically, repetition eventually causes the brain to become dull and sluggish. This is why a formally educated individual does not necessarily become an intelligent individual.
I must admit that I personally find it amusing to watch someone who lacks intelligence act superior simply because they’ve received a degree. For instance, I was recently asked to speak in front of an audience at the W Hotel in Los Angeles, on the pros and cons of venture capitalism within the entertainment industry. I found myself later that evening sitting at a large table having dinner with mostly academic-minded individuals such as teachers, lawyers, financial experts, etc. Several of them were quite perturbed that despite not having an MBA, I managed to get a high-level education as an autodidact and become a successful entrepreneur who teaches others around the world how to be successful while avoiding the trappings of formal indoctrination.
When the bill came, the teacher, with the master’s degree in education, grabbed it and started to calculate what everyone owed. After watching her fumble with the numbers for more than ten minutes I kindly offered my humble assistance and said, “Excuse me but perhaps I can help.” She smirked and actually said, “No thanks I have a college degree and this is my area of expertise.” I couldn’t help but chuckle; it was like watching theatre. Remaining cool and collect, I sat back and observed. Not to my surprise, when she came forth with the amount we each owed it was incorrect. After I politely, but confidently, corrected her, she continued to defend her weak position until it became obvious to all involved that she had made an error in her calculations.
This by no means was a display of great intelligence on my part, but it was an example of how foolish we become when we act superior because we possess a degree, but not the intelligence to utilize it.
Therefore, never give your power away to those with a narrow mind, but rather expose them by revealing that superiority is the mask of inferiority. Try to gently remind them that it is critical to the evolution of humanity that we do not allow our memories, regardless if we paid a hefty tuition for them or not, to override our own innate intelligence.
In conclusion, I must honor both teachers and students alike who are intuitive enough to reach for something beyond the limitations of what a formal education offers.
Self-knowledge is beginning to find its way into the hearts and minds of traditionally educated individuals. Many, for the first time, are becoming aware that without first attaining Self-Knowledge, all subsequent knowledge leads to an ignorant reality.
Whether you spend your time seeking answers within the halls of institutions or seek intelligence by means of self-awareness, let us never lose sight that a true educator helps a student to freely blossom their own intelligence, not mold them according to some idealistic pattern. I’ll leave you with a simple, fitting quote by an unknown author in the hope that it brings clarity to all seekers of truth, “A good teacher will show the student where to look, but not what to see.”
~ Daniel Pape