Topical Compilations and Commentary: KNOW versus know
Excerpts from various sources interspersed with commentary by Dan Kral
One of the things I have learned is there are different types of knowledge. The two main types of knowledge are head knowledge and heart knowledge. I have read that Watchman Nee referred to head knowledge as information. I tend to agree that head knowledge is information and we are full of it. We know much information in our heads. But heart knowledge is something altogether different. Heart knowledge is something that is planted inside of you. Heart knowledge is a gift – I know of no way to attain it. Heart knowledge is planted as a seed and becomes a part of who you are – it becomes a part of the fiber of your very being. For ease of differentiation I have taken to referring to heart knowledge in upper case letters. That is KNOWLEDGE versus knowledge, KNOWING versus knowing, KNOW versus know. In John, chapter 8 verse 32 Jesus says “and they shall know the truth and the truth shall set them free.” I would write that verse as “and they shall KNOW the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall set them FREE. There are other words (e.g. truth and freedom) that I also put in upper case and lower case letters depending on the meaning.
When you KNOW in your heart – you know that you know that you know that you know that you know – and no one can take that TRUTH away from you because it is a part of who you are. It is a gift from God that was planted there.
In John 8:32 – it is not information in your head that sets you free – it is KNOWLEDGE in your heart that truly sets you free. This may not be the place (since this is about KNOW versus know) to talk about TRUTH and what KNOWLEDGE of TRUTH sets us free from – but very briefly it is the KNOWING of TRUTH in your heart that sets you FREE to be who God created you to be. We allow ourselves to be put and we put ourselves in bondage to lies that we have come to believe as truth – but they are not.
With regards to KNOWING – I KNOW two things – and even those two things in some ways I don’t know much about – I have only walked in the pool of knowledge up to my ankles and I look forward to going deeper – but even ankle high is life changing. On two different occasions in my life God has put something in my heart. The first is God is my provider (Jehovah Jirah). When He put that in my heart – it was settled once and for all. I haven’t been concerned with provision – and God has provided. The second thing that God put in my heart is that God is good. When I KNEW in my heart that God is good – it absolutely changed my life. The freedom that came with KNOWING in my heart that God is good – has been an incredible journey. (See the TCC document on God is good).
Both times that I have been touched by God and had something placed in my heart – was at the end of different trials in my life (or maybe the trials weren’t really over – but when you are touched by God – the trials fade away). The experience has given a different understanding to two verses in the Bible. The first is James 1:2 and the second is Job 13:15.
Jam 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials
I understand in my heart – in a different way than ever before – that I can experience joy in the midst of trials. Why? Because it is in trials that God has touched me. I am not hoping for trials in one sense – but in another sense it is in trials that I have been touched by God – and my life has been changed. How can I not “consider it joy?” It seems paradoxical and it is – but that is many times the way God is…paradoxical.
Job 13:15A Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:
I hadn’t really considered this verse in Job – but after God placed in my heart the TRUTH that he is good this verse came to mind. If God really is good (and He is) then it really doesn’t matter what the outcome is – He can be trusted and He is good. My life is in his hands. I can’t extend my life for one second – He holds my life – it is His to give and it is His to take. So, in a deep way, in the fabric of who I am I KNOW in my heart that I can trust God and “though He slay me, yet will I trust in him”
There is knowing in your head – that is information – we all have lots of it. There is KNOWING in your heart – that is life changing.
I KNOW two things – and in one very real sense I am satisfied and in another real sense I long to go deeper with what has been put in my heart and I long to KNOW more.
New Seeds of Contemplation
By Thomas Merton © 1961
Contemplation is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source. It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes both beyond reason and beyond simple faith.
“Knowing” is KNOWING; it is KNOWING not in your head, but in your heart. When there is no need for reason, no need for logic, no need to be right, no need to justify, no need to defend because you know that you know that you know that you know – because it is in your heart. There is no way to get it into your heart by your own efforts. It is God and only God that places awareness in your heart, and from the awareness you come to KNOW.
For contemplation is a kind of spiritual vision to which both reason and faith aspire, by their very nature, because without it they must always remain incomplete. Yet contemplation is not vision because it sees “without seeing” and knows “without knowing.”
We think of knowing as learning something. In the sense of KNOWING without knowing – it is not something we learn – it can only come from God. How can we see unless God gives us eyes to see? How can we KNOW unless God gives us the KNOWLeDGe? It is in that sense that we see without seeing and know without knowing.
It is a more profound depth of faith, a knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words or even in clear concepts.
How can you explain in mere words – that which is beyond mere words… When you know that you know that you know – how do you explain that? It cannot be defended – because it cannot be defended on one hand and on the other hand it needs no defense.
For in contemplation we know by “unknowing.” Or, better we know beyond all knowing or “unknowing.”
You cannot know (head knowledge) those things that God has placed in your heart; those things that you KNOW because you have been touched by God. When God opens the eyes of your heart to See (In a way that is inexplicable) and the result is something that is put in your heart that you now KNOW – it goes beyond knowing.
And so contemplation seems to supersede and to discard every other form of intuition and experience – whether in art, in philosophy, in theology, in liturgy or in ordinary levels of love and of belief. This rejection is of course only apparent.
When we are touched by God, everything else seems to fall by the wayside. How can life be resumed as it was – it cannot. Being touched by God is a life changing experience; life will never be the same.
Contemplation is and must be compatible with all these things, for it is their highest fulfillment. But in the actual experience of contemplation all other experiences are momentarily lost. They “die” to be born again on a higher level of life.
When you are touched by God everything falls by the wayside. You are detached from the life you have been living in a way that it is easy to embrace the “tell somebody who cares” philosophy of life. But the “not caring” is not really not caring – it is not caring about the daily struggles encountered that in the end, don’t really matter – but it is even greater caring about the things that really matter.
In other words, then, contemplation reaches out to the knowledge and even to the experience of the transcendent and inexpressible God. It knows God by seeming to touch Him. Or rather it knows Him as if it had been invisibly touched by Him… Touched by Him Who has no hands, but Who is pure Reality and the source of all that is real!
This is what Anthony De Mello in his book Awareness is talking about. The subtitle of De Mello’s book – “The Perils and Opportunities of Reality” is telling us that when we are touched by God – it is a dangerous thing – but it brings us to a new level of life. There are no free moves in life. There is a price to pay to be touched by God. But the price, whatever it is, is worth it. When you have been touched by God, there is no going back.
Mystics of the Christian Tradition
© 2001 By Stephen Fanning
The modern Anglican priest and mystic Robert Llewelyn, former chaplain of the shrine of Julian of Norwich, wrote that there were two ways of knowing Christ: one can either know all about him or one can know him. He added that knowing Christ “is the only KNOWLEDGE that ultimately matters. We Christians have a great start in being able to know about Christ from the Gospels, but if we do not KNOW him it is as nothing.” [capitalization added] This dichotomy represents the two different though intimately related Christianities that coexist uneasily within each other. One Christianity emphasizes human intellect and reason and is a theology, a set of beliefs to be accepted and rules to be followed, a creed that is proclaimed. The other Christianity is that of the mystics, who seek the experience of the God of the former and stress the inability of human reasoning to know the incomprehensible deity.
The Ragamuffin’s Path to God
By Brennan Manning © 2000
Faith, born of this indispensable experience, infuses the felt knowledge of “the only true God and Jesus Christ whom [God has] sent.” The quiet certitude of the believer translates simply as, “I know that I know that I know,” however dimly and through a glass darkly.
KNOWLEDGE is the knowledge (head knowledge) that has moved to our hearts. Once we have KNOWLEDGE in our hearts – we own it. We know that we know that we know that we know and no one can take that KNOWLEDGE away from us. It is the KNOWLEDGE in our hearts that sets us free (John 8:32).
The Perils and Opportunities of Reality
By Anthony De Mello © 1990
It’s only when you become love – in other words, when you have dropped your illusions and attachments – that you will “know.”
As you identify less and less with the “I.” you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything. Do you know why? Because you are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked, you no longer desire to impress anyone. Can you imagine the relief when you don’t have to impress anybody anymore?
When you can truly embrace the “I don’t care” attitude or the “tell somebody who cares” attitude you are making progress. If you don’t like me – tell somebody that cares. If you are not impressed by me – tell somebody that cares. When you start to KNOW who you are – the rest falls by the wayside.
There is a difference between knowledge and awareness, between information and awareness. I just said to you that one cannot do evil in knowledge or information, when you know something is bad.
Or if they had been aware that they were crucifying the Lord of Glory, they would have never done so.
They aren’t aware. They’re caught up in information and knowledge.
Oh, Lord, don’t let us get caught up in the letter of the law. Don’t let us get caught up in dissecting words and concepts and miss your heart. Oh, Lord, show us your heart. We have to be so aware of information – that stuff we have in our heads – that leads us in the wrong direction – because we are deceived into thinking that information is TRUTH and it is not. It is just information – nothing more, nothing less. Bagger Vance said it – Trust your hands – don’t listen to your head – your hands know better than your mind. Die to your thoughts and follow your heart.
The founder of my religious order, St. Ignatius, has a nice expression for that. He calls it tasting and feeling the truth – not knowing it, but tasting and feeling it, getting a feel for it. When you get a feel for it you change. When you know it in your head, you don’t.
That is the difference between KNOWING in your heart and knowing in your head. Tasting and feeling the TRUTH is knowing it in your heart, and when you KNOW it in your heart you will be set free.