Knowledge and Change

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Know Thyself: The Oracle at Delphi

Does knowledge change us? Perhaps a better question might be: what kind of knowledge serves us? We know that in the fear-filled world in which we live, some of our attitudes harden and we become more fixed in our thinking on certain issues. We also know that we do not know a lot of what goes on behind the scenes but daily, our TV screens are filled with devastating images of bomb blasts, people fleeing their place of origin in hopes for a better life, hi-jacked planes, a wracked earth and more besides. I as observer feel traumatised and wonder when it will end and in what way – and I can’t help wondering about outcome although I have no control –

There are many types of knowledge including those that lie on the underbelly of life.  Baba Yaga the witch resides at the edge of the forest. Her place there denotes that she can negotiate both conscious and unconscious realms. She is of the world but not bound by it. The young girl in the story has to consult her and get directions for her journey. It means following orders that seem obtuse and impossible. It means trusting in the unknown. This is key. Baba Yaga is the one who has knowledge, confidence and firmness in guiding the younger so she will accomplish what she must. She knows the way –

Knowledge is gained through living with its hard knocks interspersed with joy and pleasure, from achievements gained, success in our relationships, traversing insurmountable odds, taking time to seek and see the beauty not only in the world but within as well. Yes, we’ll make wrong turnings from time to time – and gain useful knowledge from that too.

And so with us too, in having trust in the unknown, that of ourselves, and seeking always for more wholeness within that is our birthright. Our dreams provide us with keys if we but take the time to listen.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality.

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu

(570-490 BC)

43 Comments on K: Knowledge and Change

  1. The young girl Vasilisa is also guided by the doll she carries in her pocket, a protective doll given to Vasilisa by her mother before her mother died. I think we all have one of those. So the Positive Mother guides the girl as well as Baba Yaga, the holder of Light within the darkness. I’ve felt both these energies in recent weeks as my brother nears death. My “doll” lets me know when it’s time to speak or time to be quiet. Baba Yaga assures me there is Light within the Darkness. Thank you, Susan, and thank you, Lao Tzu.

    • I remember Vasalisa now that you say about her Elaine, thank you. It’s so re-assuring to have guides or energies along the way especially when we face matters like death as you are, of your brother .. and for your brother, may he be comforted knowing that his loving sister is with him every step of the way, in amidst his family ..

  2. I love this post and the beautiful way you weaved Baba Yaga into it. I too feel traumatized by the terrible news that fills our eyes and ears. We must trudge forward to find the reality of our situation.

  3. Hi Susan – knowledge we need and we need to use it wisely when it’s relevant to our being and our world … sometimes we ‘imbibe’ too much unnecessary knowledge that’s as out of date as of now.

    Living and taking ourselves to our first ultimate destination is the important thing – we can’t deal with anything if we’re not following our own journeys and making those as successful as possible.

    Excellent post with a lot of food for thought – thank you – cheers Hilary

    • Thank you so much Hilary for coming by. You emphasise following our own journeys as being necessary for dealing with other issues, and paramount – I couldn’t agree more!

      All best to you, Susan

  4. Another excellent post Susan! I completely love the story of Baba Yaga, and how well you describe the importance of placing one foot in each world, that of the conscious and unconscious realm. All knowledge transforms, for it gives us that certain ‘knowing’ in situations where we require understanding. And even if that knowledge destroys us, many would rather know than not know.

    Me, I don’t watch the news programs, or read newspapers. Instead I read Jung, and the poets. I consciously place myself at the edge of the forest … where as I age, I delight in becoming ‘Hekate.’ For here, in the dark wood I can approach myself well, and learn to ‘know myself’ better. Loving your series! Blessings, Deborah.

    • Thank you Deborah! I love the analogy of one foot here another foot there – perhaps that’s why we have two feet.

      You’ve put it so well about knowledge transforming – and how to use it in situations that require understanding. The forest, dark and dense but that is where we will meet ourselves.

      So, Hekate, on your journey I send you blessings too, and thank you for yours 🙂

  5. I totally agree that our dreams hold valuable information for us. Like you said, we have to take time to, first, remember them and then listen/interpret what our dreams (subconscious) are telling us.

    Great Tao quote too.

    Michele at Angels Bark

  6. This is a well-balanced discussion about Catastrophie and about Baba Yaga who has wisdom, knowledge, and gives positive guidance to the youth.

    Here, we have the juxtapositioning of the opposites that we value.

    We also have the capacity to trust in hopes of the future, and we all have our dreams that we should be attentive to and, as a result, to attain more wholeness.

    Very Beautiful Post, Susan!

  7. I think the question that you suggested “Does knowledge bring change?” can also be reversed. Does Change bring Knowledge?

    Like you, I see so many frightening things happening in the world and I doubt people are using knowledge. However, knowledge is such a blessing to us if only we will reach out to grasp it.

    Thank you for your excellent and insightful post. I sure hope the worlds’ leaders read it!

    • Thank you dear Gwynn… yes of course it can be reversed – why not? Knowledge is a blessing – I’m advocating reaching within. While also reaching out!

      Ha ha re the world’s leaders reading this 🙂 🙂 🙂

  8. A very wise post, Susan. I feel like you’ve increased my knowledge, and as many of your posts do, it left me wanting to know more. So I looked up Baba Yaga. I knew she was a witch, but little more. I found that she is often associated with mortar and pestle and sometimes a mop. To me this indicates domestic skills, but possibly also someone who creates medicines or spells. Throughout history, accused witches are often midwives or healers–people who deal intimately with life or death, so that makes sense. I like that your interpretation sees a girl approaching a woman–perhaps an ancient woman–for advice. And of course, that can be interpreted in many ways, too. 🙂

    • I like that mortar and pestle image Merril, like the alchemists of old; and sweeping, such a strong image too – sweeping away, checking under the carpet too for what may have been missed. I used to enjoy sweeping my balcony in our old home and be fully engaged in that worthwhile task ..Oh yes, a medicine maker indeed. And the little girl, lost, looking for a way …

      Thank you for your lovely comment Merril, so appreciated, and it continues the unfolding…

  9. Knowledge can change us, but I think there is a step in between. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge as the writer of Proverbs confirms. Thoughtful post, Susan.

    • It’s good to have that ideal in mind Marian, of that there’s no doubt. Life teaches us much and wisdom is a wonderful promise. Thank you for coming by 🙂

  10. Knowledge is gained through living, indeed. Every day we learn something new, thought it takes time to realize. Living and reading and observing. Caring. There is no substitute for living life, with all its ups and downs. All we can hope for is to hang tight through the downs and make it back to the ups.
    Great post, Susan.

    • Thank you Silvia for coming by. .. I think it was OW who said ‘Only that which is realised is real.’ Or perhaps he said, ‘is true’ – I’m not 100% sure..He was referring to art but also to life. How true it is when we step wholeheartedly into life and all that it is, the ups and downs 🙂

  11. I’m with Lao Tzu on this one, Susan.

    The important thing is to stay interested and keep learning and to recognize the edges, the boundaries between the conscious and the unconscious, that there is existence within the latter, to try to stay aware of when you’re in the forest and when you’re not.

    • Ah, so beautifully put Samantha! Thank you! I think that’s what we’ve got two feet for, one for stepping into the outside, the other for stepping into the inside – and that the unconscious exists and that stepping into it opens to another unknown yet fascinating realm …

  12. I was brought up on Baba Yaga stories, Susan, although there was some negative connotation of this old evil woman who could harm that girl (well, cook and eat her, to be more precise). I am fascinated by your take on her.
    I truly believe knowledge transforms us. In fact, for years I’ve been addicted to learning more and knowing more. It gave me certain advantages. But in the last year or two, I’m consciously cultivating trusting myself. There’s vast reserves of inner knowing which can sometimes be more valuable than reading and learning more information. For that, we need to be willing to listen.
    Fabulous post, Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Gulara! I’m still very much addicted to learning and addictive means excessive – so I am guilty on that score. But I’m also well aware of the need to go within, be silent, be still and listen – and be more in touch my inner being. This is so important … would more of us do so. Peace begins within –

  13. I am a life-long learner, a consumer of knowledge, but that’s not what helps me sleep at night. It’s knowing I will live until I die and no longer. There’s a certain peace in that.

    • I too consume knowledge Jacqui … probably a part expression of my addictive personality (at least it’s healthier than e.g. food). I love your brevity in your certainty, the sign of an excellent writer. Can I quote you, perhaps in a further post? I can include it in my P post – your last two sentences – already prescheduled and on paradox …(you can pinch my quotes there if you like). Thank you for coming by…

  14. Great post Susan, very enlightening, thanks to adding to my knowledge. I was thinking of the quote” know thyself” in the context of married relationships, Very rightly said that knowledge empowers us and definitely helps us to change… knowledge is power, like the way you did this post.. thanks for sharing !!

    • They are definitely words to ponder Mary! We keep on learning from sages past and current about this question of reality and question it ourselves. What is my reality? What are other realities – an on it goes … what is self-realisation?

      Thank you for coming by in among the hectic-ness of the A-Z!

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