Last night I was watching this video by a man who I have begin to admire, Elliott Hulse . In the beginning of his presentation Elliott tells the story of a famous scholar who has a vision of a hag who comes to him and asks him if when he reads the scriptures, does he understand the word or the sense of what he reads?
The scholar is honest at first and tells the hag that he understands the word. Upon hearing his answer, the hag transforms and becomes a beautiful and happy woman. The scholar saw the transformation and decided that he wanted to make the woman even more happy and he lied, saying that he understands the sense of the scriptures as well.
The woman then starts to sob and transforms back into the hag, screeching and screaming that he should not have lied. The scholar awoke from his dream and gave up his life in the monastery to travel, never to touch the scriptures again. It was an interesting story, and I replayed the whole tale in my sleep last night, and I came to a deeper understanding of the tale.
Many of us here seeking self-improvement fall into the same clever trap, myself included. We convince ourselves that learning and acquiring knowledge is what will change us and somehow magically improve our lives. If only it were so simple, but, sadly, knowledge is not enough.
Having the knowledge as to how to improve yourself and your life is like being the scholar and understanding the word. Sure, understanding the word is good and all, but the truth does not exist in the word, it exists in the sense. To understand the sense of the word you must apply the knowledge and then experience the truth for yourself.
Lets take the 1st Agreement (from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz) as an example. The 1st Agreement is to be impeccable with your word. You can read that whole chapter and you’ll start to believe that, yeah, being impeccable with your word can really change your life. The problem is that most people read that and then go out into the world and don’t even attempt to be impeccable with their word. Those people are content to just believe the word and think that because they read The Four Agreements that their life will somehow magically improve. Wrong!
Knowledge is not enough! You have to do it and experience the sense for yourself! It doesn’t matter how many self-improvement books you read or how many inspirational videos you watch if you’re unwilling to do those things for yourself. Knowledge can create a change in thought, but to manifest change physically you must change what you say and do and then you will feel (sense) the results for yourself.
Don Miguel Ruiz could be totally full of crap and just be good at saying a bunch of stuff that sounds nice, but it doesn’t actually work. I’m not saying that he is, in fact, I love his book. I’m just trying to drive my point across which is that you cannot rely on knowledge alone to create change. You have to understand the sense by application. That is the only way.
Knowledge is not enough.