Volume 9 Issue 4 News & Resources | April 2016
The importance of knowing
1. About knowledge
Knowledge is power, i.e. the power to convince and affect others to some preferred modes of thinking and action. The impact of knowledge has been recognized since the earliest of time known to human. Growth of civilizations came hand in hand with the progress of knowledge and the extent of its pervasiveness in societies. The fabrics of communal values have always been based on such body of knowledge accepted to the broader segment of human groupings. Of course the so-called “body of knowledge” may or may not pass today’s current rigorous empirical evaluations, but they were, nonetheless, useful in establishing functional societies for various communities throughout history. Some civilizations thrived for centuries while others were short-lived. The bottom line is that the strongest foundation for society is knowledge. The more successful civilizations have shown a consistent and sound emphasis on the body of knowledge and students of knowledge. The Greeks, Romans and Islamic civilizations immediately came into the picture. Their legacies of knowledge and how they have helped the postmodern civilizations are undeniable. Without the ideas of giants like Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Euler, Ibn Sina (Avicenne), Ibn Rusyd (Aviroes) and Al-Farabi, probably, we would be nowhere and are still wandering aimlessly in the myriad complexity of life. Knowledge is certainly powerful in changing for the better. In between being rich or knowledgeable, the latter will be a better option. There is no faster way to be poor than being an ignorant (read: jahil murakab)
2. About learning
Can one obtain worldly knowledge via dreams or unconscious state of mind? Can one be borne with knowledge? Can one know without learning? Can one claim a branch of knowledge which goes against logic and reason? Can we live without knowledge? I would say most likely not! One thing for sure is that the process of learning can come in multitude of forms according to the nature of knowledge being transmitted and the readiness of the students of knowledge to accept (and digest) them. Real knowledge is usually gained via intensive and conscious learning. Most of the time, new knowledge “appear” on the horizon due to the needs to solve life’s problems. When we have some needs, we will naturally look for solutions. In fact, “Need is the mother of invention” they say. We become more creative in such situations because we are forced to think and our brains are immediately triggered into action. We would scramble for possible solutions based on whatever tools and materials available around us. This is a typical initial reaction, followed by the more novel and innovative solutions. Normally, these considered solutions would be further improved until there are no more obvious drawbacks. Though in terms of actual implementation, even a not-so-perfect solution is sufficient for temporary measure. Fast action is preferred over non-action. The cycle of learning, re-learning and enhancing the available body of knowledge will never end. Learning is synonym to living. As we live, we will learn. And, the day we stop learning is the day we stop living. Period!
3. About a mentor
A mentor is very critical to the cognitive/spiritual well-being and proper progress for the seekers of knowledge. Practical realizations of written knowledge will be appropriately understood via reliable guides from a mentor. Logically, the chosen mentor has himself gone through the rigorous processes of knowledge acquisition and refinement. Holistic meaning, i.e. text and contextual, content of the intended body of knowledge will be fully appreciated and understood. Hence, the presence of a mentor is not an option, but a necessity. But, how does one find the right mentor? For this, one needs to be more patient and more calculative. Do ask around and seek clarifications. This particular step is very pertinent in ensuring a positive outcome in the search for wisdom. Often, the sincerity and naivety of a student was misled by unruly mentors. The dream of enlightenment via knowledge was shattered prematurely. Yes, choose your mentor correctly, i.e. to the best of your ability. The rest we will leave it to God. No matter how it turns out, all of us will learn something out from life events. Ultimately, we cannot change what’s fated, but we can certainly determine our attitude towards it. A mentor will be helpful in making sense of life occurrences. It has something to do with maturity and experience. Hence, a true mentor will have both elements, and his student will be one of the lucky ones. Go and find a mentor. You will thank me for that.
4. About our surrounding
We need to live in the right surrounding which encourages learning and development. Some surroundings are very detrimental to all aspects of human development. The negative elements which exist in such environment will make it harder to the already tough struggle to self-improvement. The bad vibes will affect all students and seekers of knowledge in so many wrong ways. Our external and internal elements may not be able to withstand all and we will end up not seeing the end of our struggle. We have to choose, or better, create the appropriate surroundings which are healthy for the eco-system of knowledge growth and dispersion. Both external and internal parameters are fundamental to us. As an analogy in the plant seeding process, the use of plant nursery with close supervision is widespread. In the nursery’s setting, the seeds are given the appropriate conditions for growth and also protected from external destructive elements. This law of nature is easily seen in the flora and fauna which exist around us. Some elements of protection and assistance are needed for early phase of growth. The universality of this rule is undeniable. So, choose correctly!
5. In a nutshell
We have to keep up the pace of learning and be persistent in our efforts. The search of knowledge and enlightenment will never end. Keep it up and don’t give up. I will leave you with an excerpt of a poem by Kahlil Gibran entitled “On Self-Knowledge”;
“Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart's knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.
And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless…”
Written by :
Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering