Knowledge & Experience

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Knowledge is the grasp of what is. Experience is direct perceptual participation in an event. Experience can lead to knowledge, but the impression of experience need not be knowledge. Experience has to be assimilated in terms of knowledge. This is so because one may experience something and still be ignorant of it.

Experience is one thing; knowledge of what I have experienced is quite another. When I have knowledge it includes perception—it includes experience. But experience does not have to include knowledge. For knowledge, what is experienced must be known for what it is. Experience may or may not coincide with knowledge. Knowledge is something that can both contradict experience and resolve the seeming contradictions in experience.

Experience can lead to knowledge. Experience need not include or be knowledge. Experiences can be contradictory. Knowledge includes experience. Knowledge can contradict experience. Knowledge can also resolve the contradictions in experience. Knowledge cannot be contradicted [if it can, it is not knowledge].

Any given set of perceptual impressions gained from experience may or may not conform to knowledge. To qualify as knowledge they must pass the test of inquiry.

Inquiry into the nature of oneself

With regard to oneself, there are two contradictory sets of experience. Most of the time, experientially, [due to the natural limitations of individuality] I find myself to be inadequate [not tall enough, not sure enough, not knowledgeable enough, etc]; and yet, there are moments when I find myself to be adequate, not wanting—full and complete.

The question thus arises: am I adequate or am I inadequate [are my apparent limitations intrinsic or not]? There is experience to support either conclusion. Or, perhaps, I must conclude that I am occasionally adequate and often inadequate; or that I am occasionally inadequate and largely adequate. If these are the conclusions, then I must reflect how I become inadequate if, in fact, I am adequate; or vice-versa. Such reflection requires inquiry.

‘Introduction to Vedanta’ pp32-34, Swami Dayananda
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