Dr. Vijai S Shankar MD.PhD.





Knowledge is a magnet that attracts an individual because it is believed that knowledge ensures employment, builds character, which in turn gives a sense of security that heralds in the much-desired happiness. So knowledge is admired and applauded by one and all. Accolades and praise are poured onto the individual who displays exquisite knowledge. This is why man longs to be knowledgeable. Man cannot live without being admired or noticed, and an ignorant man is always ignored. This is why man fears ignorance, and longs for knowledge.


Everybody seems to know something or the other. It is impossible to find a man who can say with certainty that he knows everything. Man seems to know bits and pieces of something or other. It may be science, academia, religion, spirituality or even concepts of how life should be. This is called Knowledge. But is this enough just to know bits of knowledge? It appears to be, for man still opts for it. And so the saying goes - knowledge is paramount. 


On the other hand, there is what is called understanding. Man wishes to understand the situation he or she is in, the surroundings of his habitat, those with whom he lives or works– not to say, his own daily life. Understanding means a certainty a definite, permanent clarity about all issues that come within man’s relative perception. By clarity is meant the absence of doubt and judgement. Understanding means to be aware in great detail that whatever the mind says of daily life is an illusion. Understanding means to be aware that the mind can never deliver anything new, fresh or real. The question is, has man this understanding?


But everything man has understood so far (or thinks he or she has) changes! His understanding of all issues that make up his daily life changes as man ages! His feelings and emotions keep changing by the minute. This only proves that man has not understood his daily life as yet. Man has not yet an understanding of his daily life; he has only opinions of his daily life, a viewpoint that changes unpredictably.  Man is deluded into thinking that his opinions are an understanding. He has not yet understood the life in which he or she finds himself or herself.


Where does man begin to reach such a state of understanding – a state of trust? What has man to comprehend that could remove doubt and judgement from his daily life? A fundamental place to begin would be to know the nature of all that appears within man’s relative perception, including himself, his mind and his egoin other words, what are the distinct building-units of life, including thoughts? Man must embark on a quest to find if time really exists in life to permit actions and situations to take place as a reality. Knowledge is not the same as understanding. Knowledge and understanding are separate phenomena. These two will be discussed below.


Life has disclosed, by way of science, that its distinct building-units are electrons, neutrons and protons – an appearance of energy. Still further subtle units of energy that are too small to be weighed build up these units. Basically life is energy. This energy is light. Nobody can say what light itself is. Life (and not man) has declared itself (so far) as being light! Thoughts too are just this energy. Time too is just this energy, for time too is just a thought. So everything in life - objects, vegetations, animals, man and his thoughts included - is just light! 


It is a common misunderstanding that knowledge is obtained through understanding. This is not the case. Knowledge is a gathering, collecting and storing of information. Knowledge can be put together through logic and reasoning, but not understanding. Knowledge is dominated by logic. Logical information is knowledge. Sometimes illogical information too is knowledge i.e. divine knowledge either spiritual or religious. Understanding is a clarity that reveals that logic and reasoning are only relative and not absolute. 


Knowledge is words with their meanings, and not realisation. Understanding is wisdom - a realisation that the meaning of a word is not absolute or independent by any measure.

Man believes that understanding increases knowledge. Understanding does not increase knowledge. But on the other hand understanding dispenses knowledge. If understanding increases knowledge then misunderstanding must decrease knowledge, but it does not! Misunderstanding only generates arguments, anger and anguish. Misunderstanding is knowledge! Understanding brings in a steady state. Understanding is wisdom. Knowledge is – come sit and gather. Understanding is – come sit and listen, or put simply, knowledge informs while understanding transforms. Knowledge makes man a teacher, a scholar. Understanding transforms man into a master, a mystic.


Knowledge is duality. Every word has a meaning because its opposite exists. Every word needs its opposite to exist. It is the opposite that imparts a meaning to the primary word. A word by itself is without a meaning and the opposite word too is without a meaning without a primary word.  Though no word has a meaning on its own merit, it still imparts a meaning to its opposite. This is how illusory a word is. Understanding reveals this illusory duality of the mind.


Knowledge creates belief-systems. The beliefs become man’s territory. Man will defend his territory just as animals defend their own territory. This is the reason why anger ensues when a man’s belief is questioned. Understanding on the other hand reveals that all beliefs are merely an idea, a thought – which in reality is a sound! 


Knowledge invents actions, preaches practice that promise goals that could be achieved – including enlightenment. Knowledge drives man to try and keep trying if the promised goals are not achieved. Man is yet to understand that trying only instils a desire to try more and nothing else. Life is a singular movement. This singular movement is light. Understanding reveals that an action is just a thought in the mind just as everything else in life. Understanding reveals that an action or act is an optical illusion. Man is yet to understand that in life there is no act or action. Understanding reveals that man experiences a world of thoughts both in the waking and dreaming state. These thoughts when traced to their nature are nothing but sounds-which is again light. A man of understanding merely witnesses the movement of life and is aware of knowledge that creates an optical illusion of action.


Knowledge could be had from schools, colleges and universities. Understanding cannot be had; understanding is a sudden happening just as everything in life is. Knowledge too is a happening. Man does not get knowledge by will or choice. Life bestows on man every bit of knowledge he or she is meant to have. Man comes to know what he needs to know. Life decides what this knowledge is to be and not man. Life bestows knowledge on man so that an understanding might happen that knowledge gives birth to an illusory life! 


Knowledge leads to confusion by making man believe that he or she is the doer, while understanding brings in clarity by revealing to man that life happens and man does not make life happen. Knowledge makes man search: search for security, happiness and even enlightenment. Man is yet to meet a man who has found security, happiness and enlightenment as a result of search. Man is yet to understand that all searches are within the mind. It is the ego, the individual that searches. The individual, the ego is in the mind. Understanding makes man realise that security, happiness or enlightenment are not within the mind. Only confusion is within the mind. Only confusion gives man an impetus to act. Knowledge has never made man steady. In fact knowledge always makes man unsteady, uncertain and unreliable. Understanding reveals that life resolves everything even though there is nothing to resolve. There is nothing to resolve for all situations are just knowledge of illusory actions in the mind. 


Knowledge gives hope to man. Man is glued to hope. Hope is man’s life-support machine. Without hope man is lost. Hope gives man a reason or reasons to live. It is very difficult for man to live without hope. Somehow man believes that one day the hopes will materialize. Hope is to man what water is to fish. The question is who is it that clings on to hope? It is man or more exactly the ego that clings on to hope. This is natural for hope is in the future and so too is the ego. Hope gives the ego an urge to live. The ego is convinced that all its dreams would be fulfilled one bright, sunny morning in the future.


Man has come into this world whether he or she liked it or not. Man is alive whether he or she likes it or not. So it is not hope that keeps man alive. Man is alive because life deems it so. Hope is in the future and future is an illusion. Future does not exist as future. It is not a realm of time where man can exist. The present moment is the future of the moment that was. Man is living in the future (which is the present moment) and at the same time is dreaming of living for the future. Man cannot hope in the present moment where man is actually living. The individual (the ego) is not found in the present moment, so there could be no one who could hope in the present moment. As there is no one present in the ‘present’ – the ‘NOW’- to hope is therefore a dream to the ego. To live without hope is living in trust. So, knowledge makes man live in distrust rather than trust.


Knowledge is important because it is believed that knowledge is in the present governing and controlling life. It is believed that without knowledge everyday life is impossible. It appears very convincing. Man thinks that he will be helpless if he has no knowledge. Knowledge is, in short, man’s lifeline to stay alive. But the question is, is this true? How did man survive before knowledge made its appearance within man’s mind? Pre-historic man went about his daily life without the aid of knowledge because the mind was still dormant. Man was just like everything else in nature. Nature was transforming and so too was man. This transformation included all man’s activities without man knowing that he was doing anything. Man did not require knowledge for him to survive. 


Knowledge was not needed then and it is not needed even now to function in life. Life functions spontaneously without the aid of knowledge. Life deludes the ego into thinking that knowledge is needed to conduct life. In order that knowledge might control life, it has to be in the present. It is not; there is no knowledge in the present. In the present there is only sound, sound that appears as a vowel or a consonant (of any language) vowels and consonants together form a syllable. A word is made up of one or more syllables. Familiar syllables generate a meaning. The meaning too is nothing but a word, which is again a syllable, which in turn is a vowel or a consonant, which is again nothing but sound. So, in fact, a vowel, a consonant, a syllable, a word and a meaning do not exist and what exists is just sound yet knowledge seems to exist in life. Sound miraculously appears as knowledge. Such is the intelligence of life. 


So knowledge is not something factual or real. And this knowledge is always of the past or future. There is no knowledge of the timeless ‘now’, nor is there knowledge in the timeless ‘now’. Since knowledge is always of the past or the future (which is nothing but a polished past) knowledge is thought to be in the past. The past is knowledge.  But where is this past? Where is this knowledge? Where could the past be from where man could learn about the present and the future? The present state of man is proof enough that man has not learned anything from knowledge. Why has man not been able to learn anything from knowledge? Is he not intelligent enough to learn? Or is it not possible to learn anything from knowledge? It is not possible to learn from knowledge because the past is not there at all! The past too is just a thought, a word and a syllable – a sound!


So where is this past? Where is this sound that appears as a word with a meaning (which again is a word)? If the past is separate from the present and the future, the present and future can never happen. If the present is separate from the past and the future, then the past and future can never happen. Similarly, if the future is separate from the past and the present, then the past and present can never happen. If there is no past in the timeless now there cannot be the present or future; if there is no present in the timeless now there cannot be any past or future. If there is no future in the timeless now there cannot be any present or the past. The past is in the timeless ‘now’ transforming as the present and the future. The present is in the timeless ‘now’ transforming as the past and the future. The future is in the timeless ‘now’ transforming as the present and the past. There is no separation between the past, the present and the future. All three are an illusion of the timeless ‘now’. Life has not created a single word that could denote past, present and future. The separation is an illusion. Hence, the past, present and the future do not exist. If the past, present and future do not exist then knowledge too does not exist. 


Since knowledge is absent in life, knowledge cannot control life or make life happen. Life is happening every moment in the timeless ‘now’, which means that life, is happening even before knowledge thinks of making life happen. At the start, man, like everything else, did not have knowledge of what he was or what he was doing: life was expressing everything. As life became sophisticated, it put knowledge into man’s mind. when life’s movement was mundane, it gave man knowledge of mundane activity (albeit illusory) – such as walking. Man had knowledge of walking, but not as being done by him or her.


Mundane movement was transformed into skilled ones by life, and gave man knowledge of skilled activity (although illusory) – such as making tools. And at that precise moment when life transformed its movement from mundane to skilled, it transferred to man the knowledge that ‘he or she was doing such actions’. 


When life finally transformed itself from skilled to scientific movement, it transferred to man knowledge of scientific activity (though illusory) – such as technology. At this moment man received knowledge that ‘he had choice, decision and command’ to bring about these activities (all illusory). Soon man became convinced that he was doing mundane, skilled and scientific activities. Knowledge had succeeded in conditioning man. Life happens while knowledge makes man dream that he makes life happen. Such is the intelligence of the sophistication of life that deludes man even to this day that knowledge executes, controls and shapes life while understanding reveals that this cannot be the case. 


So, scientific knowledge has not brought about the progression of science; it is life that has expressed itself scientifically- both as progress and as knowledge. The progress is a process of light and knowledge the manifestation of sound! The process of life happens in the timeless ‘now’, and the knowledge of such a process also happens in the timeless ‘now’. The process is a beginningless and endless transformation of energy. The knowledge, however, is an illusion!


So, it cannot be that it is knowledge that makes man exist. It cannot be that without knowledge man cannot exist. Man believes and is convinced that he has to acquire knowledge to procure the job of his choice and armed with this knowledge, he will secure that job. Man is yet to understand that life brings about both the knowledge and the job. That knowledge is related to securing a job is an illusion. 


Similarly, man believes he has to have knowledge in order to have a regulated, daily life. But could this be possible? Can he regulate every step in life? Anything can and does happen in between (only as thoughts and not as actions). Man’s thoughts of how life ‘should be’ cannot possibly cover every, single moment. So knowledge of how life should be is a fiction. Such is the drama of knowledge.


It cannot be that knowledge will make man secure, happy or enlightened by or through knowledge, because if it can, man would be secure, happy and enlightened by now. Man has been living all along without knowledge. Knowledge only creates an illusion that without it man cannot exist. Knowledge is merely a shadow. Intelligence is life. Intelligence is the timeless ‘now’. Knowledge has not met life, nor has life met knowledge. Knowledge is a dream, and this dream appears real because it is a continuous dream! Understanding is waking up from this dream!


Knowledge makes man believe that he or she is the doer, thinker and speaker. Understanding reveals that not even God could be the doer, thinker or speaker, let alone man. Knowledge sees the illusion as real. Understanding sees the illusion as an illusion. Knowledge makes man lost within the mind, and makes man search for answers within the mind. Understanding reveals to man that answers are beliefs and a belief is not truth, and this makes man aware of life, a life with no questions or answers. Knowledge strengthens and maintains an illusory individual, for both are in illusory time. Understanding gives birth to an enlightened being in the timeless ‘now’.


The enlightened being realises that knowledge is sound and understanding is light! And light and sound is GOD!


© Copyright V.S. Shankar, 2006



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