Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Different Types of Knowing

     Sometimes I like to look at sacred writings from other traditions, and I was struck by how some religions -- Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism in particular -- like to classify things.  Think of Buddhism's Eight-Fold Path, or Hinduism's three gunas.  Classifications can be great sometimes, as when they bring clarity to a thorny issue.

     Take knowing, for example.  While we may see the difference between the type of knowledge gained from books and the knowledge gained from experience, the Jainists describe eight (yes, eight) types of knowledge.  Here they are:
  • Mental knowledge, which is gained from sensory experience and then analyzed, remembered, or felt emotionally;
  • Verbal and non-verbal knowledge, which is usually acquired from hearing or study; it is dependent upon signs, symbols, and words;
  • Knowledge gained from higher faculties such as clairvoyance, clairsentience (that's us, fellow empaths!), and  mystical insight;
  • Knowledge gained from higher faculties such as telepathy and mind reading, in which one comes to know what another person is thinking;
  • Ultimate knowledge, which is omniscient, omnipresent, limitless and transcendent, and is only obtained when one reaches Nirvana.
  • The remaining three are considered wrong types of knowledge:  erroneous knowledge, invalid knowledge, and wrong knowledge.  We'll not dwell on these.
     The cool thing about this way of looking at things is that the Jainists recognize that there are other ways of gaining knowledge besides that gained from books or experience in the world.  They validate us empathic types and our way on knowing.  Way cool!

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