IS KNOWLEDGE NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE & EXPERIENCE SPIRITUALITY?
The Bible states that, “Know the truth and it shall set you free.”
So how do we know the truth? It starts with removing our ignorance.
Our ignorance is really that we do not know who we really are. We think we are the body with a finite existence when we are really infinite creatures.
Because we have evolved from lower creatures (where survival is most important), the five senses/body identification dominate us and we identify ourselves as a body and by extension our mind. This is because we are externally focused where change is part of the natural order.
This is why Buddha stated in his first truth that “everything is change and transient in this world.”
However, all major religious texts also remind us that the “kingdom of heaven is within us.”
Hence our external focus is erroneous.
So the first step in this spiritual journey is to know what the “truth” is. This begins by studying, and hearing appropriate spiritual material.
However, even if one reads or hears many spiritual lectures, it has to be effective in the person. Knowledge has to be assimilated. The common complaint is that I have been reading and listening to this material for many years and yet I do not feel any change in me.
This is because there are impediments for the absorption of this spiritual material in our mind. Thus the spiritual knowledge does not really improve our life. So what are these impediments in our mind?
They are a) ignorance of spiritual knowledge b) scattered mind c) impurities in mind.
For overcoming the ignorance of spiritual knowledge, one has read/hear the spiritual material and contemplate on it. Over a period of time, one’s understanding develops and this knowledge starts to become wisdom.
For overcoming scattered mind, regular practice of meditation is recommended. This practice over time, focuses the scattered mind.
Overcoming the last barrier of impurities of the mind is the hardest. This is because our mind has collected rust akin to a rusting needle which cannot be attracted to a magnet.
We have all spent a lifetime acquiring a whole gamut of false beliefs and prejudices that taint our clear thinking. Our eyes and ears have collected garbage akin to eating food from garbage cans- things which are toxins to our system! In addition, our past conditioning and experience also taints our thinking.
However, as the rust is removed, the needle is immediately attracted to the magnet. Similarly our spiritual journey starts when we initiate removing this “rust”
The solution to cleaning the impurities in our mind is through selfless service and focusing on the welfare of others rather than our own. Thus our selfish impurities are reduced or mitigated.
A pure mind runs naturally to spiritual things.
When our mind is purified, it is automatically attracted to God
Thus in this spiritual journey, one has to undertake several steps like improving our scattered mind ( meditation ) and eliminate/reduce its impurities ( selfless service) than just gather spiritual knowledge which may not register !
To summarize: Yes, knowledge is required coupled with other relevant practices to discover our true self!