The Master said, "Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it: "this is knowledge.` "(Confucian Analects, Book II, Chap XVII)
I was at a party with several friends one time. One of my friends was talking about exercise, and explained to the group that he was a mesomorph. Body types and muscle building aside, I did not know this concept, and politely asked; what is a mesomorph?" My friend responded, Sean I thought you knew everything! " From which I responded, Precisely, I do try to know everything. But that is why whenever I do not know something, I inquire into its meaning." My friends were impressed with this display of intellectual humility, but the issue is deeper than simple honesty.
For several years I have been on a spiritual path of sorts. I have studied religions and philosophies from all over the globe and I practice esoteric wisdom and ritual in my private life. However, it was not until I fully embraced the true meaning of knowledge, that I felt that I had really accomplished something. I went through a phase in my early adulthood, where my ego drove my words and actions. I would arrogantly pretend to know things I knew nothing about, and I would compete for attention with my fellow friends. Even when I began the spiritual journey, this simple Confucian concept was hard to understand. Upon embracing this concept, and upon shedding my egoistic desires, I realized that what one knows at a given time is meaningless compared to their potentiality for true wisdom.
It does not matter how smart a person is in the intelligence quotient department. It does not matter what type of education, upbringing and socialization a person has. It does not matter where they are from, what language they speak or what cultural norms are important. All that matters is admitting what one knows and what one does not know. This simple idea is the gateway to all wisdom and all enlightenment in my mind. Until I opened my mind and shed my ego to the point where I could fully allow myself to learn, I was not at my full potential. Now, some people call me genius, but that`s not entirely true. Because everyone on this planet has this capability, this inner genius that we all share called knowledge!
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