Many people wonder from time to time what the difference is between knowledge, understanding and wisdom. I am going to explain my thoughts on this and then I’m going to talk about how they are related to discipline, pride and the phenomenon of enlightenment.
Knowledge can be thought of as all the facts that one can know. Knowledge is related to facts, information and data.
Understanding is the ability to determine meaning from the facts, information and data.
Wisdom is knowing what to do next based on your understanding and knowledge.
Some people can have lots of knowledge about many things and little understanding. They can know lots of historical facts, scientific facts, facts about business and economy and other things about life, but they leave it there. When it comes time to reason about the facts and discern truth, they come up short. Lots of facts and very little understanding.
Others have few facts but much understanding. Someone may not be well versed in a lot of areas, but the few things they do know, the know well and can derive deep meaning from very little data, facts and information. I can think of some people that know practically every verse in the bible and seem to have them all memorized. They can tell you what they’ve learned about some of the verses because they remember what their pastors and ministers have taught them, but they don’t actually have deep understanding. On the other hand, I know people that barely know bible verses and never memorize them, yet they reflect for years on a single verse and come to understand and realize all of the implications that it entails. They have great understanding but little knowledge.
Some may have great knowledge and great understanding but fail to make the right decisions and don’t seem to know what steps to take themselves. These people lack wisdom. In order to have wisdom, we need to know what to do next based on our understanding of the knowledge we have. What we should do is a part of wisdom. Great leaders need wisdom if they are to know what they should do next. Solomon prayed for wisdom because he had to lead the Israelites and wasn’t confident that he had what it took to lead them confidently.
Now consider this: have you ever acted against your own best judgment?
Everyone I’ve asked this question has answered in the affirmative. They all say, “Yes, I’ve acted against my own best judgment”. But we have to wonder why that is. If our best judgment is based on wisdom, then why do we prevent wisdom from obtaining in our lives? What is this enemy of wisdom?
Think about when you decide what is best for you. Now think of when you’ve knowingly acted against your own best judgment. At some point we begin a narrative in our minds that begins to deceive us, but what does that mean? What does it mean to deceive ourselves? It seems as though when we decide that x is in our best interest, it is our sense of identity, “I”, “Me” that attaches itself to this judgment. It is the real person inside us; our very identity. We decide with our very person, our identity, that we will or will not do x according to our best judgment. This gets filed away in our consciousness as a part of who we are.
Then, when we act against our own best judgment and do the opposite of x, we don’t just do it without rationalizing and thinking. First, we recall that we’ve already decided that x is the right thing to do, but then we begin a reasoning process, a process of rationalization, that convinces us to act against our own best judgment. Notice, it is our identity, our person, the “me”, the “I” that sits passively and listens to this other voice, the voice that rationalizes and convinces and deceives, and then we are deceived by this other voice into acting against our own best judgment. The other voice never feels deceived itself or manipulated itself and, notice, that we don’t identify with this other voice.
We identify with ourselves and feel as though this other voice, this other narrative is like a different person or entity that is familiar to us and deceives us. This is an important point to remember. Our minds work in mysterious ways and we have different minds operating at once. We have the identity mind which is our sense of being and knowing who we are. It’s our self identity. Then we have a part of the mind that can perform calculations and reasoning. This seems separate from our identity-mind and the other-voice mind that rationalizes us away from our own best judgments. There also seems to be a mind that identifies itself with feelings and emotions while yet another mind identifies itself with logic and reason.
How is it that we are one person and yet we have these different minds working in us at all times?
We also have a thought-mind, which is the part of the mind that just passively receives thoughts. For instance, if I tell you right now to never, ever think about a striped elephant sitting in your kitchen, there is nothing you can do to *not* think about this. Right now you are imagining a striped elephant in your kitchen, but I put this thought in your mind, not you. No one knows how the phenomena of consciousness works and where thoughts really come from but it seems as though they don’t always come from us. Thoughts seem to pop up in our minds whether we like them or not. There are many ugly thoughts that many of us would rather not think about, yet there they are.
One thing I’ve learned is I am not my thoughts, and you are not your thoughts. Most people think they are their thoughts and they own their thoughts. This is not true. Let’s get back to acting against our own best judgment and how it relates to wisdom.
I want you to notice that without discipline we can’t put wisdom in motion. We can’t put our valuable wisdom to good use unless we have discipline. Discipline is the act of doing what needs to be done now. Mike Tyson once said that discipline is, “Doing what you hate like you love it” and he’s not far from the truth. Discipline is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done and not later. Discipline is the last thing that needs to be put in gear to put your wisdom to work for you.
When we act against our own best judgment, we fail to act as we should and therefore we lack discipline. What could cause this?
We operate on logic and feelings. Logic seems to tell us where our best judgment should be and feelings tend to cater to our egos. Whenever we act against our own best judgment and toss our discipline aside, it seems to be in service of our feelings and emotions and at the expense of our logic. We go back to that girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse that cheated on us or treats us wrong. We decide to get drunk again even though we’ve decided to never do that again. We decide that right now is a good time to smoke a cigarette even though we’ve decided it was never a good thing to do ever again. We decide to go to the fridge for one more piece of pie even though we are gaining weight and our best judgment tells us to diet.
When people commit suicide, it’s always because they are listening to their feelings. It’s never our logical minds that say, “kill yourself and end the misery”. It’s always the feelings side of the mind, the emotional side. We can see from this that the emotional/feelings side of the mind is not our friend at all. If you let it, it will kill you with suicide, diabetes and heart disease, cholesterol, alcoholism, lung cancer from smoking, depression, stress, high blood pressure and so on. All of the bad things we do in life come from ideas we get from feelings and emotions.
Our feelings and emotions give voice to our deceiving mind. These thoughts are not our own yet many people identify, wrongly, with these feelings and emotions and don’t realize that, although these feelings exist, they are not *who they are*. If you are a Christian you can think of these deceiving thoughts as the devil himself. We’ve seen this in old cartoons where we see someone with a little angel on their left shoulder and a little devil on their right. They two little beings talk to the person and represent the good and evil in their minds.
When we put ourselves above God, we put our cravings first and our wants and desires first, ahead of Him. Somewhere deep down inside, our pride tells us to feed ourselves, fulfill our greedy desires and satisfy our feelings instead of doing what God wants. We don’t come to this decision consciously (at least not most of us), but we come to it nonetheless. We identify with our pride, like Satan did, instead of identifying with God, and they we seek to serve ourselves; our pride, by being slaves to our feelings, emotions, appetites and passions. This all happens under the radar and we are not aware that this transformation is happening the way it actually happens until one day you wake up and realize that you are not who you thought you were.
When we identify with our pride, we identify with our father the devil; Satan. We make him our father instead of our Father God. We become separated from God when we make ourselves god in his place. Hardly anyone realizes that we make ourselves gods and worship ourselves, yet this is exactly what we do.
So how do we end up acting against our own best judgment? How do we render our wisdom useless like this? We do it by identifying with our pride and putting pride first. The deceiving voice that rationalizes against our own best judgment is pride talking. Pride is a spirit like anger and hate and it lives in us. Pride is not a part of our person. It is not of God and neither is anger, resentment and hate. Anger, resentment and hate are like members in Pride’s gang, if you will. Pride brings with it it’s own high ranking officers of hate, anger and resentment. The only reason these feelings exist is to serve and defend pride. All negative emotions are related to pride, because once pride becomes our god, it can never be offended without being defended.
It’s our pride, and our identifying with our pride, that motivates us to marinate in our feelings and passions, which causes us to rationalize and reason such that we act against our own best judgment. Therefore it is pride that is the enemy of wisdom. Pride is the language of foolishness, evil and death. Wisdom will bring peace while pride brings grief and misery.
Remember that pride is a spirit that makes a home in us, causing us to think that the pride is us, a part of who we are. Pride, anger, hate, resentment – all of these are not of God but are of the devil and if you serve pride then you hear only the voice of your father the devil. Those thoughts that you use to rationalize against your own best interest are not your own. It is the voice of Satan in your mind revealing itself to you but he causes you to think it’s just you. Remember, when acting against your own best judgment, the part of your mind that feels deceived is you and the other part (the deceiving part) does not feel like you. That part of your mind never feels deceived by the first part, the logical part, the part that decides in your best judgment.
How to become wise and enlightened.
You need to remove the pride from your mind, from your state of being and then you can receive wisdom from God. God is the truth and God is love. Pride acts like a shield from the truth and a shield from love. There is no love in pride except love of self and pride covers up your whole mind with itself preventing God from revealing His truth and love to you.
God doesn’t speak like a narrative in one’s mind. God reveals things with no words. If you have a chattering mind telling you things, even good things, it’s not God. God reveals.
God gives us wisdom and understanding as He is the truth. God is all truth. There is no knowledge without truth. We can’t know something that is false. We can know that a statement is false, but that is truth. Knowledge needs to be true. Remember that knowledge is facts, data and information and all of that “just is”. Facts represent reality. God reveals knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Wisdom is Satan’s enemy because he knows that if you have it, you will reject him. Satan is wise too, but he uses wisdom for his own needs, which is ultimately unwise in God’s world.
We need to learn where our pride resides in our minds. We need to learn to recognize and be aware of when our pride is talking to us in our minds. We need to renew our minds and become aware of who we really are what we really aren’t. For instance, we need to learn that we are not our thoughts or feelings. We need to learn that we are not our pride. Becoming aware is the first step.
The very fact that you are looking to become aware of such things may be a gift from God in itself. It may be that he put this desire in your heart to understand and receive wisdom. God may have put it in you to *seek* His truth, understanding and wisdom and receive enlightenment.
Once we become aware of the pride in us and how much of it we have in us, we need to avoid trying to fight it. Instead, we just need to be aware of it and realize that we are not our thoughts. Then, when pride starts putting thoughts in our minds, we just need to watch them like a movie and not identify with them. Don’t fight them. Don’t try to get rid of them. Don’t judge yourself for them. Just let them happen but be aware. This will help you separate the real you from your thought world. The thought world is not you even though it seems like a part of you after many years of living in your thoughts. Get to know the real you away from the thoughts. Get to “know thyself”.
The bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith,…”
“Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD” Lamentations 3:40
“Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways! “You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways!” Haggai 1:5-7
“Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” 1 Corinthians 11:27-28
God wants us to examine ourselves so that we can know thyself. This implies that if we don’t examine ourselves we can be infected with pride and sin and not even be aware of it. We need to be aware of the pride in us as it is the locus of our sinful nature. We sin when we turn away from God. It is only after that that we do things like get angry, get drunk, smoke marijuana, cigarettes, have sex out of wedlock, gossip, have resentment, have hate, covet and other things. These things aren’t really the sin. The sin already happened if you do these things. The sin is having the spirit of pride, anger, hate and resentment in your heart instead of God’s spirit. The sin is that you’ve turned away from God and live in your thoughts, which are not your but the devil’s. The sin is that you have put another god before the real God.
When you are in this fallen state of being you are apart from God and cannot be right. You can’t have the peace that God can give you. You can’t have the love and the wisdom of God. You can’t be enlightened and will wander in darkness, ignorance and evil. As soon as you separate from God, he gives you over to a reprobate mind. The reprobate mind is why you lie, cheat, steal, hate, get angry, fornicate, abuse drugs and alcohol. The solution is to be aware of the spirit of pride in your mind and realize that it’s not you.
The more you do this, the more you will get to *know thyself* and this is what God wants us to do. God doesn’t want you to think about all the things you desire and all the things you fear. God wants you to consider your ways and examine yourself all the time. When you do that, you will become aware of how Satan works in your life. You will be able to hear his voice and reject what he says, because he lies. You will be able to uncover the real you once again and return to the Father in heaven. When you start to do this, you will learn to separate yourself from the thoughts in your head and not identify with them. You will not identify with your feelings and emotions. You will not identify with the world.
Instead of puffing yourself up with bible verses and intellectual vanity, you will learn to *be still and know God*. Psalms tell us, “Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.
When you separate yourself from pride and your feelings and thoughts, and you separate yourself from your intellectual vanity, you will be like an empty slate ready to receive God’s wisdom and truth. But if your pride is still there, when God’s wisdom comes, the pride will wait until a better time and then it will begin talking to you, causing you to act against your own best judgment once again.
Acting against your own best judgment is like not having any wisdom at all in the first place. You may as well have the most uninformed, ignorant and evil person in the world. Just imagine if you realize that the flame is hot, yet every day you grab the flame and burn yourself severely. Does it matter that you know better? Not at all. You may as well be so stupid that you don’t learn that the flame is hot and will burn you. So it is with all wisdom that you fail to put into motion by using discipline.
The devil can become a reflexive habit. You may feel newly enlightened but still lack discipline. That is, you may not have the same evil, deceiving narrative, rationalizing acting against your best judgment, working in your mind anymore, but when it comes time to act right, you just let it go at the last moment. You have no discipline. What’s going on here is that you actually do still have the deceiving narrative in your mind, but it plays out in a flash and you can’t even follow it. Still, in a flash, you act against your own best judgment and toss your wisdom in the trash. This can be a habit. To get rid of this habit you need to be aware of it and never take your eye off of it.
Be aware of where the devil hides in your thinking and God will come and do the rest.
Look to be still in the mind and understand who you are and what you are not. Learn about pride. Pride exists in obvious spots in your mind, but it also exists in spots that you would never recognize as being of pride. It fools all of us, including the people that are smarter than we are and closer to God than we are. It fools us all, and it’s fooling you right now.
Once you’ve learned who you are and separated yourself from your pride (actually, God separates you from the pride), then you will be able to receive what God reveals to those who seek. You won’t be able to crunch your way to wisdom by virtue of how smart you are. You need to have this kind of truth revealed to you.
Enlightenment will follow after you’ve examined yourself and gotten to know yourself, as God wants. This takes time each day. You need to make some quiet time, almost like prayer, but you don’t pray. You just sit still and watch your thoughts like a movie, slowly separating yourself from them while learning how to be aware of yourself and the sin that is pride. As soon as you leave this quiet, reflective state of mind, Satan will catch right up with you and start talking again. It will sound like your regular thoughts going through your mind in your own voice. Be aware.
Make more time to reflect on how these thoughts attack your spirit. Then, when they come again, you’ll be expecting them and the whole experience starts to change. When you’ve come to a point where you are always aware of where your pride is, and you’ve realized that you are not your thoughts, God will start to reveal wisdom and truth to you. But be careful, if you let your guard down for a second, the Pride will come back and devour your wisdom, leaving you a fool.
If you think about it, you’ll realize that the only thing of value in life is life itself and life comes from God. If you want everlasting life and not death, you need to pay attention to what God is saying, what God wants. Wisdom, knowledge and truth are God’s and truth is life. God is truth and God is love, therefore the truth is love and love is the truth and all are God. When we discard the truth in favor of satisfying our pride and passions, we discard the only thing of real value in the universe and exchange for death and destruction.
Think about that.