Knowledge Assumes Authority

September 21st ~ There is no movement of learning when there is the acquisition of knowledge; the two are incompatible, they are contradictory.  The movement of learning implies a state in which the mind has no previous experience stored up as knowledge.  Knowledge is acquired, whereas learning is a constant movement which is not an additive or acquisitive process; therefore, the movement of learning implies a state in which the mind has no authority.  All knowledge assumes authority, and a mind that is entrenched in the authority of knowledge cannot possibly learn.  The mind can learn only when the additive process has completely ceased.  

It is rather difficult for most of us to differentiate between learning and acquiring knowledge.  Through experience, through reading, through listening, the mind accumulates knowledge; it is an acquisitive process, a process of adding to what is already known, and from this background of knowledge we function.  Now, what we generally call learning is this very same process of acquiring new information and adding it to the store of knowledge we already have…But I am talking about something entirely different.  By learning I do not mean adding to what you already know.  You can learn only when there is no attachment to the past as knowledge, that is, when you see something new and do not translate it in terms of the known.  

The mind that is learning is an innocent mind, whereas the mind that is merely acquiring knowledge is old, stagnant, corrupted by the past.  An innocent mind perceives instantly; it is learning all the time without accumulating, and such a mind is mature.

This reminds me K’s talk in 1985, just under 1 year before he passed.  It is titled “What is Guilt.”  In it, we learn a process of watching the mind.  It is very similar to his version of meditating.  It is watching the mind, asking ourselves questions like: “Do you want to get rid of the feeling right now?”  Can we see the mind wanting to implement one of the tools we have learned to get rid of the experience, this way or that way?  Just sitting with our experience leads to healing.  Later on, there is less attachment to whatever it was bothering us.  Healing is taking place.  Often, we don’t even know it.  Is this what true learning is about?  If it is, the business world is far from this.  Normally, we ignore our experience or try to power through it.  But hear, we are sitting with what is.

The other reminder came from Les Kaye, the abbot of Kannondo Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View, CA.  One day, I came in late for morning  meditation.  Morning zazen starts at 5:30 am.  I arrived at 5:40 am.  I have a long-standing habit of arriving late to appointments, especially if it is not in my regular schedule.  K says this is one of the worst things you can do.  Anyway, I was scurrying to my cushion.  After we finished meditation, we all bowed in a circle just outside the Zendo.  Les said when we are late, don’t hurry.  Accept the consequences.  Otherwise, you will disturb the others.  Now, when I am driving to an appointment and find myself late, I always remember that.

I could go on about being late…


As in most posts on, italicization of words refers to the words of either Jiddu Krishnamurti or Albert Low.  The website writer’s words are in regular text.

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