Is Knowledge Power?

It was a chilly winter morning; I was baking some cookies. While baking, a thought came into my mind that I should share some with my neighbour. So I picked up a plate, grabbed my coat and went to Mrs Khurshid’s house. When I arrived, she was shouting at her servant for not cleaning her library, as the guests were just arriving and she had to show everyone that how she has a marvellous collection of books on humanity and philosophical topics. The servant, who’s facial expressions told everything, but not showing a glimpse of how her self-respect has been torn, started cleaning the room. This incident created a question my mind:

Is Knowledge Power?

This is not just one occurrence, it’s the story of every shabby heart possessing ‘great knowledge’.

It’s a common scenario in the “Big” houses where ‘small’ people live. She was a well-educated woman, but why that knowledge didn’t affect her? Is the problem in the books that people read? There are rumours that people who possess too much knowledge/read books all the time, turn bitter by time or behave very rudely with others. What’s the reason? Why people don’t reflect the knowledge they possess?

I call it “stolen knowledge”. The knowledge which is collected merely to point fingers at others. It’s the obstacle of ego which doesn’t let human to change or recognize his own self. In Sufism, we call it “Nafs”; the inner self. It prides on itself and fears when something is pointed to it. It avoids and then successfully changes the direction of its revolver to others.

When a person becomes unable to apply knowledge on himself, transformation stops. Mrs Khursheed’s example can be taken as she may have read all the books of the world about humanity, but while reading, she collects bullets in her philosophical gun and then shoots others for their mistakes. That’s risky because it can throw all that knowledge in garbage, because the victim doesn’t apply that harsh-worded taunt to himself, and the shooter considers himself exempt from applying all that knowledge.

Maulana Rumi, A Great Sufi Mystic says:

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

So first, you have to change your own self then maybe in life, you’ll reach a point where you’ll change others by being an example. Bulleh Shah, a 16th century Sufi Saint, addresses this phenomenon as:

Parh Parh ilm Hazar Kataba’n Apna Aap Na ParheyaJa Ja Varda Mandar Masjid, Mann Apne che Na VareyaLarday Rae ho Naal Shaitan Nai Nafs Apne Nal LareyaPehle Apne Aap Nu Parh, Fer Mandar Masjid warJadu Nafs Jaway Tera Marr, Fer nal Shaitana’n Lar.

You’ve read thousands of books, but you never read your own self. You run to enter the mosques and temples but you never entered into your own heart. You fight Satan, but never fight your own ego(Nafs). First, read your own self, then enter mosques. When you win against your Nafs(ego) then fight against Satan.

The concern I am trying to address here is that ‘knowledgeable human’ is not the one who has read plenty of books, but the one who implements it on himself. Knowledge is not about stolen concepts, but change and transformation in one’s own self.  Books can give plenty of knowledge but don’t guarantee the change and implementation in a person. It’s the inner struggle which changes a person. It’s same as if a person has millions of dollars in his pocket but doesn’t know how to spend it. Mere knowledge is not power, but having the courage to apply knowledge on your own self is real power!

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