Knowing versus Experiencing

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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No_Mind
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Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by No_Mind »

A question came up in a debate with a friend about the above subject line - Knowing versus Experiencing.

It can be applied to Buddhism, but we shall all get bogged down in extraneous arguments if we were to debate with our Buddhist hats on.

So I will state it simply -

In 2040 a space tourist pays $5 million and visits the moon.

An astronomer has spent 30 years studying the moon (geography, soil, etc.) but never ventured out of his observatory except for attending seminars and conferences about astronomy.

Who knows more (about the moon)?

:namaste:

No_Mind
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus
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robertk
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by robertk »

A question came up in a debate with a friend about the above subject line - Knowing versus Experiencing.

It can be applied to Buddhism, but we shall all get bogged down in arguments (if we were to debate if say experiencing the lower jhanas by someone who has little theoretical knowledge is more than a Buddhist monk-scholar who has spent a lifetime studying Buddhism but does not like to meditate).

So I will state it simply -

In 2040 a space tourist pays $5 million and visits the moon.

An astronomer has spent 30 years studying the moon (geography, soil, etc.) but never ventured out of his observatory except for attending seminars and conferences about astronomy.

Who knows more?
A more apt comparison - if comparing with Buddhists these days who think they have jhana- is to add in the man who hops on a 'spaceship; that takes him to a little valley nearby that he mistakes for the moon.

Presumably both the astronomer and the bona fide space tourist know more than him.
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No_Mind
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by No_Mind »

Edit Add - I deleted this sentence (if we were to debate if say experiencing the lower jhanas by someone who has little theoretical knowledge is more than a Buddhist monk-scholar who has spent a lifetime studying Buddhism but does not like to meditate) because I do not want the discussion to get side tracked into jhana and what is the proof and who attained it.
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus
SteRo
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by SteRo »

No_Mind wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:57 am A question came up in a debate with a friend about the above subject line - Knowing versus Experiencing.

It can be applied to Buddhism, but we shall all get bogged down in extraneous arguments if we were to debate with our Buddhist hats on.

So I will state it simply -

In 2040 a space tourist pays $5 million and visits the moon.

An astronomer has spent 30 years studying the moon (geography, soil, etc.) but never ventured out of his observatory except for attending seminars and conferences about astronomy.

Who knows more (about the moon)?
Knowing is not different from experience because knowing is an experience. It is the jugglery of the aggregates.

Therefore the question "Who knows more (about the moon)?" does not apply because experience of knowing might be different in terms of quality but not in terms of quantity.
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ
SarathW
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by SarathW »

If you need a Theravada answer, please give me the Pali words for knowing and experience.
Is it Vinnana (knowing) and Vedana and Sanna (experience)?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
char101
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by char101 »

No_Mind wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:57 am Who knows more (about the moon)?
This is an (unintentionally) trap question, because knowledge itself is of two kind, theoretical and experiential, or in Buddhist terms, suttamaya-panna and bhavanamaya-panna. So the astronomer have more theoretical knowledge but the tourist has more experiential knowledge.

The question is not which has more knowledge but which knowledge is better? Obviously the experiential knowledge.
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by SarathW »

According to Ven. Vijithananda, knowing (the knowledge or the view) has the notion of self-view. (I know)
The experience (Panna or wisdom) does not have the self-view.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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No_Mind
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by No_Mind »

char101 wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:38 am
No_Mind wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:57 am Who knows more (about the moon)?
This is an (unintentionally) trap question, because knowledge itself is of two kind, theoretical and experiential, or in Buddhist terms, suttamaya-panna and bhavanamaya-panna. So the astronomer have more theoretical knowledge but the tourist has more experiential knowledge.

The question is not which has more knowledge but which knowledge is better? Obviously the experiential knowledge.
Correct to an extent; but experiential knowledge arises from theoretical knowledge.

If X visits Paris but X has no idea about French fashion, food, culture, art, museums etc then it makes little difference if he is in Paris or Timbuctu.

Hence, in my opinion, theoretical knowledge is more important since experiential knowledge can only arise from theoretical knowledge and has no independent existence.

:namaste:
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus
char101
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by char101 »

No_Mind wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:53 am Hence, in my opinion, theoretical knowledge is more important since experiential knowledge can only arise from theoretical knowledge and has no independent existence.
Just because experiential knowledge depends on theoretical knowledge does not make theoretical knowledge more important. If I am going to a place does the road I am passing more important than the destination? If it is more important then I should just stop at the road and ignore the destination. Theoretical knowledge is useful but experiential knowledge is the real deal.
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by SteRo »

SarathW wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:51 am According to Ven. Vijithananda, knowing (the knowledge or the view) has the notion of self-view. (I know)
The experience (Panna or wisdom) does not have the self-view.
Self-view as conceptual belief may be absent in experience but each and every experience is accompanied by delusive intuitive self-experience.
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ
SarathW
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by SarathW »

SteRo wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:19 am
SarathW wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:51 am According to Ven. Vijithananda, knowing (the knowledge or the view) has the notion of self-view. (I know)
The experience (Panna or wisdom) does not have the self-view.
Self-view as conceptual belief may be absent in experience but each and every experience is accompanied by delusive intuitive self-experience.
Agree.
You have to be at least Sotapanna to be at this level of understanding in wisdom (experience) level.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
chownah
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by chownah »

I'll paraphrase joni mitchel and use it to describe both positions:
I've looked at the moon from both sides now, from knowing and experiencing but still somehow its the moon illusion I recall; I really don't know the moon at all.
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WindDancer
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by WindDancer »

In terms of Theravada Buddhism. I need both.

I need the knowledge, wisdom and experience of teachers and good spiritual friends to help me to learn, see more clearly and point the way toward practices that will help me on the Path of liberation. I am not the Buddha. I could spend years directly experiencing life but not see things clearly, learn or grow.

In contrast, I have known people who spend their time reading spiritual books. They have quite a bit of book knowledge, but they put very little of it into practice. They have knowledge that is helpful, but they experience few benefits in their daily life because they don't practice and learn from experience.

I like learning; however, I want to learn that which I am going to put into practice. There is big difference of me reading about letting go of clinging to something that mattered to me and going through the experience of all the pain and difficulty required for my grip to be finally released. I couldn't have made this type of progress without learning the knowledge from others; however, it is the experience that makes it truly known. Once this deep clinging has been released in one area, it gives me faith and confidence that I can be freed from clinging in other areas in my life. In addition, this experience helps generate the resolve and determination to keep practicing. :console:

Offered with Metta,

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No_Mind
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by No_Mind »

char101 wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:17 am
No_Mind wrote: Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:53 am Hence, in my opinion, theoretical knowledge is more important since experiential knowledge can only arise from theoretical knowledge and has no independent existence.
Just because experiential knowledge depends on theoretical knowledge does not make theoretical knowledge more important. If I am going to a place does the road I am passing more important than the destination? If it is more important then I should just stop at the road and ignore the destination. Theoretical knowledge is useful but experiential knowledge is the real deal.
But then we have to accept that Armstrong knew more about the moon than the best lunar scientists. Which makes no sense whatsoever. Not arguing, just trying to understand.

:namaste:
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus
santa100
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Re: Knowing versus Experiencing

Post by santa100 »

No_Mind wrote:A question came up in a debate with a friend about the above subject line - Knowing versus Experiencing.
Both will be needed or the picture will remain half-complete. Experience without knowing can lead to wrong view (ex: the blind men touching the elephant analogy). Knowing without experience will be just unproven/un-verified hypothesis. So, similarly for the case of the Astronomer VS. the Astronaut, without the Astronomer, the Astronaut can set his foot on the moon without even knowing it is the moon; and without the Astronaut, all the Astronomer's theoretical hypothesis and assumptions about the moon will forever remains hypothetical and unproven.
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