By Bruce Perry
There is a very profound difference between knowledge and mere belief.
Here is a simple example of the difference between the two:
• Belief: You and your friend are sitting in his house eating a meal. He gets up to go to the refrigerator to get some milk for each of you and, passing by a window, he sees a bear outside in the yard.
He says, “Hey, there’s a bear outside.” You say, “Oh yeah?” and continue eating.
You believe him, but you’ve seen lots of bears and would rather sit and finish your meal.
• Knowledge: After your friend says there’s a bear outside, you decide you want to see it, so you get up and go to the window and look outside.
Now you see the bear with your own eyes. Now you know there is a bear outside; you don’t have to merely believe there is a bear outside.
This is knowledge.
In the true meaning of the word, knowledge is that cognizance/awareness that results from direct experience.
Anything else is not knowledge in the strict sense of the word.
Often this word is misused by those who wish to mislead others by using it (falsely) to prop up that which is merely belief, that which does not result from direct experience by the individual.
Doing that is kind of like false advertising, of which there sure is a lot lately.
A practical example of the difference between the strength of the two can be seen every day in the law courts.
If person giving evidence states he knows of something by way of another person telling him the information, that will be categorized as hearsay, which is not admissible as evidence.
For example, Bob tells the judge his friend Bill told him that Jim broke into a house.
The judge will not count this as evidence because it is hearsay.
However, if Bob tells the judge he saw Jim break into the house, the judge may go ahead to consider that as evidence, since it is not hearsay, but knowledge obtained by direct experience.
During the acquisition of knowledge, there is no intermediary between the person and the thing/event to be known.
Bob saw Jim break into the house; he was not merely told by someone else that Jim broke into the house.
This is why knowledge is superior to mere belief.
If you wanted to know what your freshly made, still-warm blueberry pie tasted like, would you be satisfied with cutting a piece out, giving it to a total stranger, not tasting it yourself and then asking his opinion?
By his answer, you would only obtain his opinion; you would not have the knowledge of the actual taste of the pie.
You would possess merely his opinion, until you tasted the pie yourself.
Hence, there is inherent in mere belief a fundamental shortfall of certainty.
Down deep, those who have no direct knowledge are insecure — and the insecurity causes fear.
To address this fear, they try to get others to believe (instead of know) because, if they can get others to believe only, then, in some sort of weird way, that makes it more OK for them to merely believe.
Traditional knowledge, especially traditional spiritual knowledge, is based on, and is obtainable by, direct experience of the creator, who speaks to each one of us every moment of the day:
A deep blue sky, sunlight sparkling colours on new snow, the flash! and thunder! of summer lightning, the call of the soaring eagle, salmon jumping in the streams, a cool summer breeze on your face, a surprise shooting star in the night sky, the proud singing of Coyotes… Natural Facts like these are the True Alphabet with which the Real Words of The Creator are communicated to us directly every moment of every day since the beginning of time and so on to continue until the end of time . . .
No intermediaries (priests, preachers, books, churches, etc. ) are necessary in order to communicate directly with the creator.
You were born to be able to do this naturally.
It is your absolute birthright as a human being.
Faith-based religions are categorically inferior to traditional knowledge.
They amount to only hearsay and often have mixed in there some other underlying motives other than communication with the creator.
For example, collecting money to build churches and to pay for the livelihood of priests, preachers and the like, and to pay for the pamphlets they distribute in the hopes of converting others to their style of belief, which, as mentioned above, is done mainly because of a fundamental uncertainty that is psychologically inherent in mere belief versus the quiet strength of knowledge, which results from direct experience of the creator by the knower, be they a man, woman or child.
Bruce Perry is a guest in the Secwepemc traditional territorial lands.