Knowledge Vs. Consciousness: A Fundamental Distinction

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Knowledge is used to solve problems, create new realities, and fuel progress. It is powerful and necessary. However, knowledge can also be used to abuse others and fabricate an illusion of certainty to hide our incapability to manage uncertainty. In such cases, knowledge becomes useless—sometimes even counterproductive. It becomes, in fact, just a vehicle to express our conceit and fear.

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No wonder the first biblical metaphor describing human misfortune tells the story of how Adam and Eve lost paradise when they took the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Of course, knowledge is not bad. There is nothing wrong with knowledge. The problem is what happens to people when they cling to it as if it were an absolute truth. Knowledge is an approximation to reality, not reality itself. It is relative, not absolute. What was considered knowledge yesterday is considered ignorance today. That is the way it has always been. Therefore, when we cling to current knowledge as if it were an absolute truth, it becomes the seed of ignorance and conflict for tomorrow. In this regard, knowledge, as shown throughout human history, is a double-edged sword.

It is incomprehensible how, despite all the knowledge we have accumulated throughout history, humanity is more threatened today than ever before. Global warming, endless wars, and unjustifiable poverty plague the world as if we did not have the knowledge to stop them—but we do. Knowledge seems to have fallen prisoner of a vicious cycle in which it only produces incomplete solutions to problems created by using the very same knowledge. This is a trap that we can only escape with the awakening of our consciousness—a sense of awareness and purpose beyond knowledge. Our evolution does not depend on science and technology anymore; it depends on what we can see and feel when we close our eyes. We need to recover paradise, and paradise is within us.

Knowledge vs. Consciousness: Today’s Greatest Confusion

The problem is that humanity has a great confusion between two fundamental concepts: knowledge and consciousness. Knowledge is nothing else but a collection of shared assessments about the universe that have passed the third-party validation test. The more validated knowledge is, the more robust and useful it becomes. Such validation, however, is always based on circumstantial evidence as it is impossible to test a hypothesis in all possible scenarios. Therefore, as stated earlier, what was considered knowledge yesterday is considered ignorance today.

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Consciousness, on the other hand, is the ability to distinguish between our ego and our inner self so that we do not become slaves to our knowledge. Consciousness allows us to evolve when our current knowledge becomes obsolete. Consciousness also allows us to discover our life purpose, which is the best possible compass for the use of present and future knowledge.

Consciousness Is the Key

Knowledge is critical to the expansion of our intellect, the improvement of our quality of life, and the evolution of civilization. In fact, if used properly, knowledge can also be used to spark the awakening of consciousness. However, past a certain point, all knowledge becomes insufficient before the greatness and mystery of the human soul. Only by developing our consciousness can we conquer our human nature and solve, once and for all, the problems that threaten our survival. As Carl Jung said, “Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens.” Knowledge is outside; consciousness is inside. Let us be knowledgeable; but, most importantly, let us be conscious. Let’s awaken!

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What do you think?

Have you ever fallen prey to conceit as a result of your knowledge about a certain subject? Has your knowledge about something ever become useless? If so, what did you do about it? How does knowledge relate to The 11 Laws of Systems Thinking? How does consciousness relate to The 7 Keys to Success?


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