As people, we become addicted to knowing. We become addicted to the acquiring of knowledge. When we grasp a new concept, our brain releases a dose of chemicals similar to opium. Knowledge addiction gives the physical human a strong evolutionary advantage. We are guaranteed to progress if we are hard wired to learn. The human biological system, being a reflection of the greater universe (which is geared towards expansion), is essentially designed to maximize the rate at which new but understandable information is acquired. Once you have acquired a new bit of information, you spend your time learning something else. Without thinking about it, we pick out experiences that are new; experiences which cause us to know more. A biological addiction to know more is perfect design because it endows the physical human with a perpetuating beneficial learning behavior, even if misery and negative consequences are experienced along the way. This is helpful in an environment of contrast such as this.
This desire for knowledge is not in and of itself negative. But there is a shadow side to the quest for knowledge. The shadow side is that knowledge is often used by the ego as a security blanket. The ego uses knowledge to avoid things that it fears. Things like insignificance and worthlessness and pain. Knowledge is worshipped by cultures the world over and knowledgeable individuals are valued. They command respect within their society. In society, knowing more about something than somebody else boosts one’s social status. We become significant to others when we know something more than they do. We become significant when we are the venue through which they can get their knowledge “fix”. It is easy to see then how the ego could use knowledge to avoid insignificance, personal insecurity and worthlessness.
Knowledge also helps us to avoid future calamity. If we know the winter is coming, we can stock up on food and survive the winter. If we do not know it is coming and do not stock up on food, we may die. If we are a person who worries about the future and most of all who does not trust ourselves to create a reality that feels good to us, knowledge becomes a tool for self-protection. Knowledge is the worrier’s best friend. Knowledge is often used by the ego to keep itself away from the rocky seas of uncertainty. Cognitive closure makes us feel safe. If we look at the ego for what it is, which is an identity (the identity you call by your name, which is temporary and also illusion), we quickly see that the ego’s goal is to stay alive and serve as contrast for our true self. The ego serves us by facilitating our expansion. And one way it does this is by keeping you alive in the physical long enough to learn/progress. And if the ego’s goal is survival, knowledge is more essential than even food or water is. After all, knowledge is what allows us to find food and water in the first place. All humans are knowledge junkies as long as they are identified with themselves. We are set up to go after the goal of realization or the goal of grasping a concept. We go after the goal of knowing instead of the process of learning. This makes the learning experience uncomfortable. This makes learning something that we have to “get through” in order to get to the mental carrot we are chasing. You’ve heard it gain and again, we fear the unknown. Guess what? The idea that we fear the unknown is total Bull Shit. We don’t fear the unknown. If we truly feared the unknown, babies would fear everything and they do not. What we fear is what we project into the unknown based on our previous experiences. When we are facing the unknown, the mind goes to work projecting it’s already acquired fears into the unknown to try to predict what lies in the unknown and then goes to work trying to figure out how to avoid those fears. It’s those projections that we fear. For example, if we quit our job that we have been working at for 10 years to do something radically new and different with our life, we are venturing into the unknown. But we don’t fear that unknown in and of itself. We fear the potential failure and fall from grace that we could experience socially by venturing into the unknown. We fear this because we have experienced the feeling of failure and fall from grace before and wish to avoid this feeling at all costs. We do not fear the unknown in and of itself. We fear the potential unwanted things we predict that the unknown could contain. If we learned to not project our fears into the unknown, the unknown would no longer be scary. The ego is obsessed with the quest for truth and knowledge because it’s convinced that knowledge and truth will keep unwanted things from happening to it. But the unknown holds a glaring truth; like a clam holds a pearl and that truth is that the state of learning is a higher state than knowing. The open state of inquisition and questioning is a state open to all possibilities. The closed state of knowing shuts the door to further learning. In a way knowing is ended-ness. You can’t know everything about everything. Source doesn’t even know everything about everything. There would be no reason for life to exist if source knew everything. Source only knows what it knows up unto this point. You, being a microcosm (a fractal) of the larger universe, only know what you know up to this point.
Most of us fear not knowing because we fear that as a result of that lack of knowing, we will end up going through a “bad” experience. Your worry will greatly be reduced when you train your focus to see that value is contained in every single experience. There is a Zen master that once said, “the barn is burnt down, now I can see the moon”. Inherent in that statement is the idea that even the things that we would identify as a tragedy contain value. If there is value in all experiences in our lives, we will not run around trying to avoid certain experiences. That in and of itself is liberation. Bad experiences or Unwanted experiences are only what we call experiences, whose part in our growth and integration we do not yet understand. The minute we understand that all experiences enrich our life because they all cause learning and growth, we cease to see any experience as bad. We begin to see experiences from source perspective. Source does not see “bad experiences in life” as bad. Source sees every experience, no matter how uncomfortable as an integral, valuable experience. The experiences we go through are open to interpretation. That’s the beauty and the pain of it. We can interpret any experience in a way that causes us to suffer or we can interpret it in a way that causes us to grow and integrate, thus becoming more whole in and of ourselves. You cannot know everything about everything.
Expecting yourself to know everything about everything is cruelty. It is also the result of fear. The universe works like this, questions lead to answers, which lead to more questions which lead to more answers, which lead to more questions and no one, not even the universe at large, knows if there will ever be an end to this cycle of questions giving rise to answers giving rise to questions giving rise to answers. The progression of thought may be eternal and it may not be eternal. You have heard the expression “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”. What If I was to tell you there is no destination? Now it really is only about the journey and all life is nothing more than a journey. All life is based upon exploration, expansion, adventure, the progression of discovery and learning. So how do we come to love learning without becoming attached to knowing? We release the fears we have surrounding the idea of not knowing. We admit to what we are really afraid of. For example, I might be afraid of not knowing because I have chosen a career that is built upon the expression of information. I might be afraid that if I do not know all the answers to everything, that I will lose my value to the people who come to seek my knowledge. I may fear that if I lose my value to them, I will fall from grace and be rejected by the very people who profess to value me now. Or I might be afraid of not knowing because if I don’t know, I could make a tragic mistake. And if I make a tragic mistake, I would feel bad about myself and it would revive my childhood feelings of shame, which are painful. We need to be brave enough to face what we are trying to avoid by knowing. We need to own up to and face what we are really afraid of. We need to turn around and face the fears that we are projecting into the unknown. Because the unknown has become a scapegoat that keeps us locked in a vicious pattern of avoiding what we are really afraid of, which I can assure you is not the unknown.