If Ignorance Is Bliss, Why Seek Knowledge…?
Ever hear the phrase “ignorance is bliss”? Chances are you have. So then let me ask you this, if ignorance is bliss, why seek knowledge at all? Why waste your time listening to me (Phil Svitek) talk about theories and concepts? I know from my own experience that sometimes the more I learn the more confused I am. I wouldn’t be shocked if you’ve listened to my past 20 lessons and scratched your head saying “what is he talking about?” In this lesson I take a deep look at our understanding of what knowledge is and why we’re in search of it. More importantly, I give specifics of what you should look for and what you shouldn’t. Utilizing thinkers such as Don Miguel Ruiz, Viktor Frankl, Sir Isaac Newton and the story of Adam and Eve, I’ll illustrate the power words have in shaping our reality and why we must understand the true nature of knowledge. Be careful, it might just make you question everything. And once you’ve checked out the episode, be sure to comment with any thoughts or questions you may have so I can respond.
The Voice of Knowledge Book: https://www.amazon.com/Voice-Knowledge-Practical-Guide-Inner/dp/1878424548
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First off, I want to acknowledge you for joining me, whether it’s the first lesson you’re seeing or not. You’re here because you want to gain something. To learn something. That certain something can be termed knowledge. But here’s something to consider. Ever hear the phrase “ignorance is bliss”? Chances are you have. So then let me ask you this, if ignorance is bliss, why seek knowledge at all? Why waste your time listening to me talk about theories and concepts? I know from my own experience that sometimes the more I learn the more confused I am. I wouldn’t be shocked if you’ve listened to my past 20 lessons and scratched your head saying “what is he talking about?”
We all read books, watch movies, TV shows and so on in hopes of learning something that will better our lives in some way. But if we’re just left confused then how has that helped us? If you’re someone like me, you’ve probably read or heard the same bit of information over and over, just stated differently.
I think the issue lies in how we define knowledge and how we define ignorance. I say I think because anyone who tells you they know doesn’t really know, or so I think. Anyway, right off the bat we’ve attributed judgement to those words. Ignorance means lack of knowledge or information while knowledge is facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. One lacks something while the other acquires something.
See, the definitions of those two words make it seem like all knowledge is good. But not all knowledge is good because at the end of the day knowledge is subjective because it is filtered through your own personal experiences and belief systems. It is precisely why two different people can have the same experience and attribute two completely different meanings from that same experience. If there was a third person, she’d have a third perspective of the situation, different from the first two people.
Knowledge, as we learn it and engrave it within ourselves, is filtered through language. And while language can be beautiful, it is a simulacrum. It is a representation of the real but it not the real itself. As author Don Miguel Ruiz puts it, if we didn’t have the word for a chair a chair would still be a chair. It’d still be an object you can sit on, look at or touch.
Language has an inherent viewpoint and the way we use it creates stories and eventually our personal reality. This in turn affects the rest of the world because how we see the world is how we’ll project ourselves onto it.
Many great thinkers of the past and present have pointed to the voice in our head as troublesome and not really a voice that is ours at all. They say the voice in your head is separate from you. It is actually you that is listening. The real you is silent and observant of the world. This real you sees things for how they really are and not by the lies the voice tells you. But over time, the voice affects you negatively, if you let it. It is why suicides involving firearms are almost always to the head. They are trying to silence the terrible voice in them that is destroying them from the inside out.
We call that the power of words, because again, words shape your reality. If every idea and word in your head is grim and negative then that’s the type of person you’ll become. The world will be your personal hell. Conversely, there’s some who harness the power of words to see the world as heaven on earth. And it can be.
What I’ve come to realize is that ignorance isn’t at all bliss because it comes from the word ignore. Just because you ignore the world and its realities doesn’t mean they’re not there. As a child you are innocent but you’re not ignorant. In fact, I argue you’re less ignorant then versus now because you’re less bogged down by knowledge. Knowledge has a tendency to create a false security. A false understanding of things. The phrase ignorance is bliss is a false understanding of things and for many creates a sense of security that doesn’t actually exist. By ignoring the realities of life they are more susceptible to them because they’re don’t expect them to come.
What we should seek to obtain is not knowledge. What we should seek is in fact awareness. Awareness of what is so plainly visible to us everyday. To pay attention to what’s right in front of us and all around us. That is what we really should be after. Awareness is true knowledge, not facts and figures. The type of knowledge that’s so commonly shared is the lies of false prophets as the Bible would call it.
True awareness and understanding requires no explanation. It’s a feeling. It’s within you. Intrinsic. Inherent. Your observant self just knows. It’s no coincidence why meditation helps so many people – it eliminates the chattering and lying voice in their head thereby allowing them a moment of tranquility to observe what is real. The more one practices mediation and mastering awareness, the more she sees the world as it as, without embellishments.
False knowledge takes us further and further from this true awareness that we once knew as kids. For those that have been seeking so-called knowledge, this is what they are really in search of in their lives. And yet, blindly, they search for answers their whole lives. Odds are they never obtain this awareness because as life continues more knowledge clouds them.
Those with so-called knowledge seem important because as a society we’ve determined they’re knowledge makes them superior. Knowledge makes people successful. So we’ve spread this lie throughout society everywhere. It’s a lie though. When you have awareness, you have wisdom. The knowledge we tend to uphold is just useless words structured together to make you believe something. Wisdom is the application of your awareness. The truly successful people applied their awareness of the world to create or understand something amazing. Sir Isaac Newton understood the laws of gravity through the simple act of a falling apple on his head. It wasn’t knowledge that allowed him to discover that. It was his awareness. So whenever you look at the countless other examples of people who have done great things, understand they saw something no one else did because they were aware and they took action in some way, shape or form.
This brings us to the real point of the lesson because you may have knowledge of a lot of different things. But that doesn’t make you successful. You’re an artist you say? Great! What are you doing for your art right now? And later today? And tomorrow? And the day after that? And so on. Awareness allows you to observe and gain true insight of the world for what it really is. Unfiltered. Which in turn allows you to do something and in this case that’s the act of creation.
Last week I talked about the power of a small but loyal fan base. I suggest you check that out if you haven’t, but in short, one of the take-aways I mentioned was that as an artist you need to share something meaningful with the world. The more honest and insightful it is, the more it will resonate with the world. Such a thing can only happen when you’re aware. You must understand ignorance is not bliss and the knowledge people have taught you has a viewpoint attached to it that makes it automatically subjective. Don’t repeat it in your head. Understand it deep within your soul and practice is wholeheartedly every day.
Don Miguel Ruiz has a book called The Voice of Knowledge. When I first heard that title it appealed to me very much. The voice of knowledge seemed important and exciting. I wanted to read it, especially because for me, I’m approaching 30 real fast and they say that 30 is the age of wisdom for a man. Women apparently get there a lot faster. But within the first chapter of the book, I learned it was nothing like what I was expecting. Don Miguel Ruiz equates knowledge to lies and does so by highlighting the story of Adam and Eve. The tree of knowledge is the one where the snake resided. The tree of knowledge was the tree Adam and Eve weren’t supposed to eat. That tree was poisoned by the snake. The poison distorted reality because it made Adam and Eve believe lies. That first chapter made me question the whole idea of knowledge right away and I realized that what’s meant by the phrase 30 is the age of wisdom for a man is when a man regains his awareness of the world. He comes to terms that the knowledge he’s accumulated in life is not true. Women get there faster so good for them. Of course, the idea that men or women automatically reach an age of awareness and this realization is just another lie courtesy of knowledge. The reason I gained this awareness is because I heard this lie over and over throughout my life and questioned it every time.
Ironically, that’s one of the lessons Don Miguel Ruiz teaches. Doubt, but learn to listen. Don’t take anything at face value and assume what someone is sharing with you is the capital T truth. It’s words and it’s their perspective. Also, don’t take it personally even if you assume they mean for you to take it personally.
I’ll give you an example. There’s people in my life that have told me I have a problem with authority. When you hear this enough times you start to believe it. But when I started to understand that all knowledge is subjective and that what I was actually seeking was awareness I determined for myself that the reason people said I have a problem with authority is because I questioned what they were saying. They wanted me to agree with their viewpoint but I wasn’t ready to buy into it right away. It’s not to say what they shared didn’t have merit or that I never took the advice I got, but it does mean I processed it at my own pace. And sometimes I did disagree or reject certain notions. And I vowed to myself that I’d continue to exercise this type of awareness moving forward because doing so will keep me more aligned with my true spirit. But, be careful. I’m not giving you a license to be disrespectful to others. I try to always be respectful whenever people share anything with me, even if I disagree with them. I’m not always successful at it. But I try. And the more aware I am, the easier it is.
Let me share something else with you that deals with a piece of knowledge most of us have learned to accept as truth even though it’s anything but. That piece of knowledge is that freedom is choice. If you’re American you’re probably heard that because this nation is built upon this doctrine. I’m sorry, and this doesn’t make me unpatriotic, but that’s the biggest bullshit ever. Freedom isn’t choice. Real freedom comes from the ability to commit to a choice and move forward with it. To act on it. There’s plenty of people I know who are so overwhelmed by choice that they become paralyzed by it. Then there’s people like Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, that teach us even when you seemingly don’t have a choice you can still commit to happiness and freedom just by the way you act despite the circumstances. How powerful is that?
If you’re going to commit to anything, might as well be your craft, right?
The biggest lesson I learned from The Voice of Knowledge was to stop seeing imperfection in the world. Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, the world is perfect. You are perfect. But somewhere in our lives the first bits of knowledge we bought into was that we somehow are not perfect. And hence why we seek knowledge throughout life because we feel that the knowledge we’re going for will somehow make us perfect. What makes us perfect is just being us. For that we have to be aware and act on that awareness. Life is about doing. If you’re an artist, your life is about expressing what you see in the world. Do, do, do.
Knowledge is too introspective. It’s a dead end that you’re too blind to recognize as a dead end. You might as well live inside the Matrix if you’re doing that.
Put blinders on and keep practicing your craft and understand that skill and technique is different than knowledge. Skill and technique has a tangible outcome or result. If you’re a writer, the words on a page are the result of your skill. If you’re a blacksmith then the sword you create is the physical representation of what you’re able to do.
But it all starts with awareness. Recognize what’s around you. Pay attention and understand how the things you and others say shape your worldview. And when you filter out the lies, you’ll begin to understand again. That’s called wisdom and it’ll be evident as honesty in your art. Best of luck. To help reinforce this very esoteric episode, here’s a few quotes I like.
“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” – Lao Tse
“I know nothing, because I know too much, and understand not nearly enough and never will.” – Anne Rice
“You are divine, you are perfect, but as an artist, you create your own story and you have the illusion that the story is real. You live your life by justifying that story. And by justifying the story, you are wasting your life.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
“Knowledge is power? No. Knowledge on its own is nothing, but the application of useful knowledge, now that is powerful.” – Rob Liano
“Do question, even the basics! You will be a fool for once! If you don’t, you will be, for a lifetime.” – Himmilicious
“There is much that I do not know and I’d like to know even less.” – Martin Schuster
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” -Albert Einstein
“The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things.” – Jean Piaget
“To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” – Socrates
Before you click away to another lesson of mine, here’s a few more things. First, my producer Juliet Vibert is away in New York this week. She is missed but she’ll be back next week. In the meantime, if you’d like to review this lesson a transcript is available on my website. A link is below. Please be sure to hit that like button if you enjoyed this episode and tell your friends and family about it. Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions and what lessons you’d like to see me tackle next. The more specific you are with your questions, the better I can answer them. Also, you can support this show on patreon.com/philsvitek if it doesn’t burden you financially in any way. Every contribution is truly appreciated and helps defray the costs of putting on this show – which as you can imagine takes a lot of effort. To be notified when future episodes release, subscribe on Apple Podcast, YouTube, Facebook, Google Podcast, Spotify or whatever other platform is most convenient to you. Specific links are provided below. Lastly, if you’re interested in joining AfterBuzz TV as a host or as an intern, visit AfterBuzz TV’s contact page. A direct link is provided. Or of course you can Tweet @PhilSvitek or Instagram @BonjourJuliet. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week with another one of my lessons. Bye!