Key Thought for this session:
“Faith is the evidence I cannot observe for the truth that I must act on.”
The challenge in knowing what is true is in understanding the meaning of knowledge. By definition, "to know" is to bring to an awareness in the mind. However, our mind can be made aware in two different ways. Remember the conversation in a previous session about the two kinds of knowledge? Let’s take a look at this again because it’s really important.
One type of knowledge is information we receive through our physical senses. If I say "I know the President of my country," it likely means that I know his or her name, what he or she looks like, and maybe a few other facts.
If I know the wind is blowing, while I can't see it, I can feel it and see physical evidence, such as leaves moving around or flags waving in the wind, or even gauge it by using a scientific instrument that measures wind speed. I can know the mountains are beautiful because I can see them and evaluate their qualities. When we receive awareness and information that is observable using our physical senses and can interpret using forms of scientific inquiry, the ancient Greeks would call this type of knowledge eido. We often call this “head knowledge.”
On the other hand, if I say, "I know my wife or husband loves me" or "I know the mountains are peaceful," it is not because I can see or measure love and peacefulness, touch it or hear some facts about it, but because this information came to me through some way other than my physical senses. Some say that our soul is speaking to our mind. This type of knowledge comes from within us and is not measured through some physical instrument. The Greek word for knowing something this way, through our conscience, intuition, and revelation is called gnosis. You may have heard this called “heart knowledge.” Sometimes gnosis knowledge might be called “the sixth sense.” Some people say gnosis knowledge of an object comes to you when some invisible source bears witness or testifies to certain qualities of an object. We jokingly say, “a little bird told me” or “the devil made me do it.” More seriously, some people believe they commune with loved ones who have died and passed on to another life. Most religions believe in super natural visions or visitations. Like... some members of the new age movement believe in angelic visitations. Christians believe one role of the Holy Spirit is to provide gnosis knowledge of God and His love for us. Sometimes we talk about “seeing” something in our dreams that tells us something about someone or something. These all would be forms of gnosis knowledge.
Often gnosis knowledge is confused with emotion and feelings. Gnosis knowledge may generate emotion, but it is not emotion. Emotion occurs when either eido OR gnosis knowledge is compared to an expectation we have, ...or when there is some discrepancy in what we want and what we get. We feel happy when we know something exceeds expectation, like we got a better grade on a test than we thought, and we are sad or angry when our knowledge falls short of expectation, like we find out someone lied about us to a friend. It is very easy to confuse gnosis knowledge and emotion, but we shouldn’t. Remember, you can have an emotional response to eido knowledge, too. This will become more clear as we discuss this in more detail.
Remember, In session one we introduced this idea of two types of knowledge by referring to ways to know about the Atlantic Ocean. A map gives us eido knowledge, but when we physically wade or swim in the ocean, we receive gnosis knowledge because qualities of the ocean are revealed to us in more experiential ways than just head knowledge. As we said earlier, we can have emotion from each type of knowledge. Emotion is the outcome of the knowledge, but the FEELINGS are NOT the knowledge.
Let’s look at another example about how knowledge comes in two forms. It’s interesting the way each type of knowledge shapes our judgments about things.
For example, the common practice when hiring someone for a job is to collect knowledge about all applicants. The first form of knowledge is usually the person’s resume, containing all types of facts about education, relevant experience and skills. This would be eido knowledge. However, when I hire someone for a job, I want references. I want a more intimate knowledge that is different than facts. While I cannot always receive gnosis knowledge from personal experience of an applicant, I seek gnosis knowledge other people have with an applicant to have a better understanding of which applicant would be best for the job. References provide a perspective of the applicant that is not just “head knowledge” or facts. I am better informed when I have both eido and gnosis knowledge, even if I borrow some gnosis knowledge from other people.
Likewise, when I read, research, and study what others have found about nature, I am getting eido knowledge of the world. But, when I take a walk in the wilderness to commune with nature, then I gain gnosis knowledge of it by what is revealed to me in the experiences I have with nature. My soul sends me information about the creation around me in addition to my 5 physical senses. So, when I say, I have knowledge of nature, I may not make a distinction between eido and gnosis because the two together make up what I know.
When a teenage girl asks her mother, “How will I know I am in love?” The likely answer is, “You’ll just know deep down.” It’s hard to explain, difficult to understand, but this idea of knowing is what the Greeks long ago called, eido and gnosis knowledge.
Before we move on, lets practice this important idea about knowledge. Meet my friend John. I know John is smart. If I know this because I Googled him and read about his IQ, his college degrees, and awards he has received for his brilliance, then would I have “eido” or “gnosis” knowledge of John’s intelligence?