Ignorance Vs. Denied Knowledge

Denied knowledge

We have covered in many earlier essays that each experience is truly an outcome of our connection with that event through three connectors: Ignorance, Bias and Knowledge. It is the cumulative effect of these three connectors and their relative proportions that we perceive as our experience.

It is said that when a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does the falling tree really make any noise? Through inference (Knowledge) we can suppose that there would have been noise. But until we physically hear it or a recording of such noise, how can one be sure? I could well argue legitimately there was no noise!

The above may appear as academic. Consider a pothole on the road. There is a reasonable chance that the ignorance of the existence of the pot hole can lead to serious accident. A warning sign alerts the driver (knowledge) that prevents and avoids accidents. But what happens when the warning sign is removed or missing. In this situation the knowledge of the pothole is denied by someone else who had that knowledge. Is this a case of denied knowledge?

Before we accuse some one of ignorance we may need to look into the knowledge that has been denied. Objectively speaking if someone had the necessary knowledge, their choices – and hence experience – will be totally different. So, if there is desire to help someone else out of ignorance would it be better to focus on the denied knowledge? Teaching, preaching, mentoring are all approaches for removing ignorance. Those who strive for this lofty goal – the teachers (Guru) – are held in high esteem. May be their primary role should be to explore the denied knowledge rather than focus on the ignorance of their student apriori?

Denied knowledge has many practical implications as well. You say something in a conversation. You hear a comment back. You are surprised at the response and the reaction. Ignorance would lead to instant counter response. But if you take a moment to reflect on the first response, you may become aware of some additional information unknown to you. Integrating this new knowledge before responding would be objective. Willful ignoring of the new knowledge would be biased or turbulence. Continue to remain unaware of this knowledge would be denied knowledge? It is like removing a warning sign or ignoring it?

Being “in the moment” truly implies a conscious awareness and search for the denied knowledge. It is like using a radar or sensor. It is like a motion detector in our security system to remain objective and less subjective. But it requires a personal effort to seek out new knowledge. It is also a matter of open mind, being available when opportunity presents with new knowledge.

Denied knowledge, as much as it can be a matter of self-awareness, it is also a matter of social responsibility. Denied knowledge forces the poor and underprivileged to remain that way. Bigotry and racism are part of life for many when they are not exposed to the realities of their practices and assumptions. Religion promotes rituals. But denied knowledge of the meaning behind the rituals fosters segregation and isolation into religious sects and subsets. Leadership is required to shine light on this ignorance. But it may also require removing the veil of secrecy to the knowledge that already exists.

Bird in open cageThere is a story in the life of Adi Sankara, 7th Century Indian Saint and Philosopher. When he opened the cage, the parrot living in it for years would not fly away. He says,

“While there is wide open space and you have the capacity to fly away, you can not avail of it conditioned by your mind”.

Denied knowledge we suffer from is the conditioning of mind on our own and through the influence of others.

Everyone is familiar with the “elephant in the room” syndrome. There is a partial knowledge of the “elephant” with everyone in the room. When this knowledge is integrated, objective outcome will evolve. Such outcome will be acceptable to all those who are also objective (with their enhanced knowledge). It will not be acceptable for those with a highly biased (turbulent) mindset. But isn’t it denied knowledge, when nobody wants to speak up and expose their share of knowledge?

Denied knowledge permeates almost every facet of our society: at work place, within the family, among friends, etc. Overcoming the fear of engagement is required to break this cycle. Let us remember not to accuse anyone of ignorance as a substitute. We need to merely engage in the service of eliminating denied knowledge!

As family and friends gather in the upcoming holiday season, let there be open communication and sharing with each other of what we know without fear or apprehension. Let there also be a personal effort to listen and absorb new knowledge. May these help to diminish our individual and collective “denied knowledge”!


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