Knowing and unknowing
That we can know and know that we know is the core of being human. Mostly we are lost in what we know, thereby losing sight of the our knowing nature. This capacity to know is usually referred to as consciousness. Being conscious that we are conscious is the doorway to the possibility of self-realisation – the coming to know what we really are in essence – the Knower.
There are four degrees of knowing.
1. Not knowing and not knowing that you don’t know. Personal versus universal consciousness.
2. Knowing but not knowing that you know. The child effect.
3. Not knowing but knowing that you don’t know. Seeker.
4. Knowing and knowing that you know.
Below I describe these stages in terms of spiritual seeking but they apply to any area of knowledge. With spiritual seeking we are seeking to know the knower. Knowing the knower is not an intellectual understanding but it is found through the intellectual investigation. So, having an understanding of our minds work and how consciousness develops helps. It’s a journey from the personal to the universal.
Not knowing and not knowing that you don’t know.
This could be termed ignorance in a general sense of any fact or idea. For instance, if you had never heard or heard of, let’s say, Irish Sean Nos singing, you would be totally ignorant of its existence. But it is a knowable fact. This is my interpretation of what Carl Jung meant by personal consciousness versus universal consciousness. Universal consciousness refers to anything that is knowable, in the universe. Personal consciousness refers to what an individual knows. or has a way of knowing within the universe. To know in this sense means that we have to have something to know it in relation to. It is relative knowing. Sean Nos singing would be known against a background of music in general, which is known against a background of sound. Having the capacity to hear is dependent on having a sense that can interpret the universe through sound. All the senses are capacities based in the relative, in the universe, for the purpose of the organism being able to interpret and survive in the universe. The senses belong to the relative but the capacity to know does not.
Knowing but not knowing that you know.
This could be seen as child syndrome in the sense that children know things but they do not know them in relation to the bigger picture or the universal. A child may know and be able to sing Sean Not but not know that there are other kinds of music. They don’t know that it’s relative. Their personal consciousness is all that they know, not yet having developed an understanding of it in relation to universal consciousness.
Any new knowledge at first looks like personal knowledge or experience and with time this becomes seen in terms of universal knowledge and experience.
The personal consciousness develops before it can be seen in relation to universal consciousness.
Not knowing but knowing that you don’t know.
At this stage an individual has learned that their personal experience or knowledge is a limited thing. Others have experienced the same experiences as them. They have become aware that their life is but one example of a human life. This is really the stage of the seeker, who has come to realise that the search for contentment or meaning is not just their personal quest, but a quest that has been sought over the course of human history. The individual comes to hear that others have set out on this quest and come to a resolution of their quest. They have heard about self-realisation and come to understand that this is possible for all humans.
Knowing and knowing that you know.
In terms of spiritual seeking this is self-realisation. The knower comes to know itself.
We come to know what we are in essence. We come to know that ultimately each one of us is The Awareness that generates the universe and the consciousness of it.
I cannot describe this knowing because it is not describable but it is knowable for all humans. It is an experiential knowing.