Knowing and thinking

Surely living as a human being, you need to know things. That is your consciousness. As you grow, your consciousness is growing, so you know things in this world. And you recognize things that are precious in this human life. For example, the love for your parents and wishing them to be always happy. This state of knowing is the form of human being. This is essence of living as a human being. Enlightened beings like Buddha certainly “Know” things.
However, this state of knowing is very limited compared to the absolute. It is impossible to know everything. But the absolute (often called indestructible being in Buddhism) is also you. Indeed, when we ask who is the person who is living the life and asking all these questions? It is the absolute being. When you are together with your absolute being, you don’t need to ask these questions. When you feel you don’t have to ask these questions, you will be with your absolute being. By not asking these questions, you can understand them in a way that is beyond words.

For the absolute being, there is no need to know. It is already connected to the world. It is already at peace. But for it to live as a human being in this world, there is responsibilities. A doctor cannot just say s/he loves the patient. S/he must have the skill to do the surgery when the patient needs it. Thus we have the saying that love is not enough when you are helpless. So there is the need to learn things, to know things as living as human being in our world. But again, this knowing is very limited.

Buddhism teaches us that everything is within us. The path of practice is to look inside of us. The most precious thing for each of us is that we have everything within us. Seeking truth outwards will lead us further away from the truth. Words are only used for convenience to point out the truth. If we just look closely at our own life, look inside, reflect on our experience, we can keep getting better on this path of practice. For me personally, I seek outwards from time to time when i don’t feel progress by just seeking inside, but I do it with the purpose of going back to the inside later. So I expose myself to the outside to get to know more of myself. Practically speaking, it is a very effective way of practice. Thus I try different things, learn about society, talk with all kinds of people. I guess this has something to do with right effort. After all, the objective world is myself. To know the objective world is to know myself.

So in a summary, our own bodies, our own lives, are the source of our practice. It is an unlimited source. Buddhism teaching, no matter how many words it was put into, is only to get you to take a look of that source yourself. So if you feel stuck and cannot progress, just look at your own life, or try more with your own life, you will be able to progress. You don’t need anyone else to tell you what is right, what is wrong. You will know that yourself. Indeed, Dharma is your best teacher.

So knowing and thinking are different. Knowing is a state that is not separated. It is still a connected state. Thinking, however, is a separated state. Here we want to differentiate the meaning of reasoning from thinking. We can use reasoning to refer to logical reasoning based on experience, and we confine thinking to the kind of thinking that just springs up by itself. In knowing, you just do things even before the concepts arise. So it is a state that is apart but not separated. In our daily life, when we are just doing things without getting caught up, we are in the state of knowing instead of thinking. We know and we are not separated. When you are very busy and can only sleep 2 or 3 hours a day, you try to do things without wasting energy in thinking, you are in a state of knowing without thinking. Such knowing is the same as not-knowing.


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