Information is abundant in the universe. The human capability to access information has grown explosively in the recent past. We can detect the light rays that originated close to the birth of our universe over 13 billion years ago. We can map the genomes of living beings and piece together the evolutionary development of individual species. The advent of the World Wide Web and the various tools for disseminating information widely have empowered anyone with an Internet connection to quickly gain relevant information with minimum effort. Information is common for everyone. But it can mean different things to different people. As our minds have limited capability and selective focus, we filter incoming information randomly and infer as we like. As the available information is constantly changing due to new creations and losses, none of our conclusions based on information, even if it is a lot, can be accepted as final and absolute.
Knowledge is internalized information that is available when we need it. Knowledge can be our own or borrowed. For information to be converted to knowledge we need to understand it in some depth. We learn and memorize information and recall it when required to put it into use. Due to our severely limited mental bandwidth and memory capacity, the amount of information we can convert to knowledge is almost negligible when compared with what is available. Today, even an acknowledged expert can specialize only in a tiny part of her expertise and even that becomes outdated if she does not keep proactively seeking and adding to it. This fact puts the efficacy of our academic system that attempts to award degrees and produce assembly line experts in question.
When we put our knowledge to practical use and carefully learn from the outcomes, we gather our personal wisdom. Wisdom is completely unique to every human. My wisdom cannot teach you anything because when passed to you it reverts to the state of knowledge for you. You will then need to put it to practical use and diligently learn from the outcomes to gather your personal wisdom. As we grow old, we discover two paths open to us. When we are highly alert and observant and filled with love and empathy for others, we move in the path of wisdom. When we allow prejudice and certainty to cloud our vision and blame and judge others, we find ourselves becoming cynical. Whether we choose the way of the wise or of the cynic is entirely up to us.
Born in the rich culture of South India and educated in English, I have been exposed to two opposing world views enabling me to achieve synergy and realize true harmony. I belong to linguistic community “Saurashtra” who were silk weavers patronised by kings of yore. Our ancestors are said to have migrated from Western part of India to Tamil Nadu in the South several centuries ago. Growing up in the country as India underwent its pangs of Westernisation, I was able to synthesise the self oriented Western perspective with the community oriented native one to arrive at a wholesome concept of self after considerable efforts and experimentation. My forthcoming book “Searching for Self – In Pursuit of Inner Peace” is the culmination of this labour.