Word 17: The one who did not find oneself as a channel of an infinite sea of existence, what he thinks about gaining knowledge?

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Word 17: The one who did not find oneself as a channel of an infinite sea of existence, what he thinks about gaining knowledge?


We are a channel of an infinite sea of existence. This sentence discusses knowledge and how we gain knowledge.

Does knowledge exist? Yes, because we see the effects of knowledge around us like cars, airplanes, microscopes, etc. A verse in the Holy Quran says that “Are those who know and those who do not know equal?” (Az-Zumar:9).

We proved in introductory lessons of self-knowledge that knowledge is free from matter and its properties. Because knowledge is immaterial then its container must be immaterial too. So, knowledge and its container cannot be found in material objects. Knowledge is not in a book, flash memory, or even our brains! The container of knowledge is our “Nafs” or our “I”. (We will discuss later that knowledge and knowledge’s container, in reality, are one thing by unity of perceived and perceiver).

How we gain knowledge

To know the truth about how we get knowledge, let us start with questions and answers.

Q: Where does someone with knowledge get their knowledge from? Why do you read books?

A: We read books so we can get knowledge to perfect ourselves and so we can understand things that we have not understood before.

Q:  How do we get the knowledge that we have not had before?

A: The teacher talks and adds to our knowledge.

Q: Now, where did the teacher get her/his knowledge from? Did she/he get it from someone else or did that person read a book? How does the teacher even give you knowledge?

A: The teacher talks, we listen, and after that we get knowledge. That means, with the teacher talking, her knowledge is transferred to us.

Q: Does the teacher’s knowledge decrease when he/she talks and gives you knowledge?

A: No.

Q: Why?

A: Because we learned that knowledge is free from matter. Therefore, it is not like matter to get smaller. For example, it is not like when you have two cups, one is full and the other is empty; when you pour water from the full one to the empty one, the amount of water in the full cup will decrease and the empty cup will gain water.

Q: That was a very good answer. So, when the teacher talks and we listen, does the knowledge exit from his/her mouth, and come into your ear? How does your teacher give you knowledge?

A: I do not know.

Q: What is talking? When we talk, sound waves are created which causes air particles to move, and therefore, sound waves are hitting our eardrums. Those sound waves convert to electrical pulses and transfer to our brain. Do you agree with me?

A: It seems so.

Q: So, does knowledge sit on the sound waves and travel from the teacher’s mouth to our eardrums? Do those sound waves have knowledge?

A: I do not know.

Q: We proved that knowledge is free from matter. So, it does not have space. Therefore, the place of knowledge is not on sound waves; do you agree with me?

A: I do not know, I need to think more about how knowledge is transferred, because I first thought that knowledge is matter, but now I know that it is not.

Q: Another question, when you read a book and get knowledge, how do you get that knowledge? Since there is not a teacher there to talk and create sound waves?

A: I do not know how I get knowledge; I just read a book and get knowledge.

Q: When you see a book, it is just squiggles on white paper. Is there knowledge in those squiggles and papers?  Like, if a cow eats a book, does it get knowledge?

A: Obviously not!

Q: When we read a book, the sunlight reflects from those squiggles and hits our eyes and converts to electrical pulses, and gets to our brain. So, how does knowledge transfer from a book to you?

A: I do not know.

Q: Where is knowledge in the book? There is not a teacher here to say that there was knowledge in the teacher’s brain that transfers to my brain by the teacher talking.

A: I do not know because I already know some letters and when I read a book, I gain knowledge.

Q: So, do you gain knowledge when you read a book in another language that you do not know?

A: No, I do not.

Q: When we listen to a recording, sound reaches our eardrums and then converts into electrical pulses and gets to our brain; is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Is there knowledge in that recording?

A: No.

Q: Why?

A: Because we found out knowledge is free from matter.

Q: Bravo! Yes, that is correct. Knowledge is free from matter, and we proved that a knowledge container is free from matter; therefore, the knowledge is not in our brain, it is not in the talk of the teacher, a book, and in a recording.

A: Very interesting. I always thought about it differently.

Q: Now, let us go one level up. Pretend that we are sitting alone, and we are thinking about a scientific problem. We know that thinking means moving towards our knowledge and study to obtain unknown knowledge. Now, the question is how you gain knowledge by thinking. You did not know something, but after you thought about it, you found the knowledge. Who gave you knowledge? Did you give yourself knowledge?

A: I do not know.

Q: Yes, you do not. You cannot give yourself knowledge if you do not have it. There is no teacher, book, or recording here. How do you get knowledge?

A: I do not know. This is a difficult question. It seems like I am getting knowledge from somewhere else.

Q: Knowledge is free from matter; therefore, it needs a container that is also free from matter. By knowing this, we can say that knowledge is not in the teacher’s voice, books, or any recording. Correct?

A: Yes.

Q: So, when we perceive and understand something, teachers, books, and recording are helping us to perceive but knowledge itself is given to us from somewhere. Right? Teachers, books, or recordings only help us perceive and understand something. However, knowledge itself is given to us from somewhere/something else?

A: Probably.

Q: For example, when you think about, listen to, or read a mathematics book, you will not understand physics. Do you agree?

A: Yes, we will get knowledge on the subject that we study.

Q: When a lesson is taught by a teacher, they provide us with an introduction to the topic. The teacher thinks and talks loudly, and we begin to follow what they are saying. So, in a way, the teacher uses an introduction that includes some information to first “tune” our brain, so that we become ready to receive the actual knowledge (from somewhere). This is quite like a radio which needs to be tuned to the right frequency in order to receive what we hear as the audio.

When we listen to a teacher talking or when we read a book, those help us to receive knowledge from the non-material world. The great philosopher Haji Sabzevari said, “The truth is that knowledge is given from another world but thinking will make us ready to receive it”.

If you noticed, we did the same process to understand the above topic. I was thinking loudly, and you were listening to me. Then you started thinking with me and when you became ready, you received knowledge about the above-mentioned topic. So, knowledge has its own source. When we become ready, we will receive it. It is the same process for everyone and is also correct for any scientific subject like chemistry, physics, biology, and philosophy. In philosophy, we call the knowledge giver “Aql-e Fa’al” (Demiurge) and in monotheism religions, we call it “Angel Gabriel”.

So, creatures will get their knowledge from “Aql-e-Fa’al” or “Angel Gabriel”.

What is the quality of receiving knowledge?

How is the quality of receiving knowledge from Angel Gabriel? Is it like knowledge separated from him and then it comes to me? No, Knowledge is free from matter so, it cannot be separated from Angel Gabriel. Now let’s make another question: How is the quality of a revelation from Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad (S)? Is it like something separated from Angel Gabriel and descended to Prophet Muhammad’s (S) heart?

The knowledge is descended from the Intellectual world to the Methal world and then to the Physical world (Worldly life) is without leaving the original source. Meaning, Truths and Knowledge are in their original source but will descend to the appropriate properties of each world. When we leave the second floor and come to the first floor, Arabs call this “Tajaafi”, meaning leaving the original place and coming to a new place. But the descending of Merci or Knowledge from God is not like a droplet of rain that leaves higher elevation and descends to lower elevation.

An example of descending without leaving the original source is “All our knowledge is present in our soul (Intellect level), when we want to tell a story, our knowledge descends to our Heart level (not physical) and the story will be selected. Then the story will be shaped with appropriate forms (characters, shapes) in the Methal world and finally will be appeared in the Physical World (by telling or writing the story). The story is present in all the worlds, but unity expands and will multiply until it reaches the Physical world. So, when Angel Gabriel descends to the Heart level (not physical) of Prophet Muhammad (S), do not think He leaves the Intellectual level and comes to the heart of our Prophet Muhammad (S). The important note is that we proved all our perception is done in the Methal world.

Tradition: “Each believer has a door to heaven”. This means that believers are connected to Angel Gabriel or “Aql-e-Fa’al”.

Tradition: “There is an angel who has faces equal to the number of humans. When a human being is born, a cover from the face of the angel will be removed”. This is “Aql-e-Fa’al”.

All creatures, big or small, cells, plants, animals, or humans, all get their knowledge from Aql-e-Fa’al or Angel Gabriel. They are connected to this truth.

Who formed our body like this? Who decided for us to have 5 fingers? Who is managing our bodies? Who decided for us to have two ears and eyes? Is the embryo growing itself or do parents grow it? (I am not asking how it grows instead I am asking who manages the growing). Our body is alive because it is connected to our “I” or “Nafs”. We are like a river or channel that is connected to the ocean of existence.

Allameh Hassan Zadeh said, “O God, I am not able to know my essence, how can I know your essence?”

Tradition: “O children of Adam, your outward (appearance) is for destruction but your inner is Me that Everlasting”. “Allah is Better, and Everlasting” (Ta-ha:73).

All praise is to God to the extent that He deserves it.

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