The Reconciliation of Love and Knowledge

The paths of love and knowledge are often seen as in opposition to one another in the search for and experience of meaning.

People often speaking of the importance of love assert how knowledge gets in the way and the importance of not thinking, Those on the path of knowledge often assert how the emotions associated with the path of love deny the path to truth.

But it may be that what are normally taken for the paths of love and knowledge may not really be representative of love and knowledge in the ancient sense that makes them actually complimentary.

I found the following short article which gives some insights into what I believe to be love and knowledge in the esoteric sense in relation to the development of man’s potential.

Understanding this article I believe requires first the assumption that we need to be opened for the experience of reality. We are incapable of it as we are. The love described is not easy since our egotism struggles against it. Knowledge isn’t of facts but self knowledge of experience.

Something like this is almost inconceivable. Who can defy their ego like this? But, if we truly are not what we think we are, then it makes perfect sense regardless of how insulting it appears.

Nick, I like the topic, but I’m surprised you just tried to explain saintliness without once referring to God!

Hi M R N

What good is explaining God if the premise is that as we are, we are blocked from being able to receive God? We are attached to the earth and it is through both love and self knowledge (consciousness) that freedom becomes possible.

Under such circumstances, speaking of God other then as expressed by the author becomes misleading, a preconception, an “idol.” Conceptualizing God just escapes from the real concern which is us and the necessity of changing in order to become open.

I just can’t believe it that you say worshipping God is idolatrous and worshipping man is the end. Total flip-flop on the universe and religion.

It sounds to me your reading of the text is agnostic, while the author of it and those he quotes actually address God as actual. I think your reading leaves the person stuck in himself, contemplating and loving in a mere natural way. Not bad, but how can you actually know of God without God reaching out and giving you this knowledge, I do not know. As Christ says in Scripture upon the occasion of a similar question: “For man it is not possible, but for God all things are possible.”

Does this make freedom possible? Freedom is action in correspondence with the truth. So it does.

I should probably put aside the Scholastic conundrum of whether happiness is found in knowing or in loving God, as your author would probably say they come together in one act, and for you it is idolatry.

Hi M R N

First let’s make sure we understand worship the same. Do you agree with these definitions from

Is the attempt to experience the “kingdom” spoken of by Jesus that is the result of re-birth necessarily worshipping man? I would say that it is only so if one mistakenly believes they are something they are not.

But I’m taking the position of man’s nothingness. There is nothing being worshipped because such worship can only come from our egotism. So instead of worshiping, I believe the real importance is in being open. Worshiping must be limited to the acknowledgement that God is above us and just be open to receive so as to get out of our own way and our interpretations.

Yes, hopefully we become “stuck in ourselves”. How else can one begin to “know thyself?” It is so much more tempting to fly off in our imagination and to deny being stuck in ourselves. But if we are stuck in ourselves, conscious self knowledge comes from being open to the experience, to be open to ourselves as the sinner and to admit it. It is a natural way to become free of being stuck in ourselves but we’ve become so caught up in self defense that it now appears as unnatural.

Allowing ourselves to be open to receive help from above is not yet having the power to"do" or express God’s will as in “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This “inner housecleaning” is the function of self knowledge which reveals what must be cleaned, separating the wheat from the tares within. Otherwise, we cannot see that all our loving and worshiping is from our defenses, our egotism and denying the purpose of religion which is to touch the essence of our being.

Very true IMO. True freedom for man is the expression of God’s will. But to do this requires us becoming different than what we are. In Christianity it is called re-birth.

Transient happiness on earth is possible but not assured. Many are not so fortunate as to have even transient happiness while others in an affluent society are happy at one time and unhappy at another.

Our ego thinks of God when it is advantageous for it to do so. At these times it makes it happy. In this manner I would have to say it is idolatry.

However real joy is found when knowing and loving do come together and it is different than happiness. From Simone Weil:

It is not so easy for the kernel of life within the acorn to free itself or the chick to become free of the egg shell. It must grow to the point where it becomes ready. It is the samefor us to be consciously free of ourmechanized conditioning. This is not so pleasant nor does it offer immediate pleasures. It is rough. The objective impartial experience of self knowledge and the opening it brings can be quite a shock .

If we wish to become a concert pianist we must practice technique and scales. Often this is not all that pleasant. But if we desire the joys of a pianist it is a necessary stage to pass through. It won’t do any good to worship a performer. They just show what is possible and their performance is motivating We must do the practice.

I think we agree on the meaning of worship, but we do not agree on our concept of happiness. Re-read, if you will, the offending passage in which I mentioned happiness, with in mind that for Aristotle eudaimonion (“happiness”) equals the purpose of life – fullness of our form. So, is that found in knowing or loving was the question. I really recommend A’s Ethics; it gives a new clear view of man’s aims in life.

Okay, you mention God in the next paragraph, so I don’t see a problem with that. And contra your final paragraph, I think we all have heroes we admire and want to emulate. The paragraph I quoted, however, I’m not sure of.

It seems to me you do not find yourself by getting wrapped-up in yourself, but possibly through contemplation of your actions. (I read Hegel-Marx as saying this.) You might mean, however, that the journey starts with a bit of self-inspection, which seems right.

However if the means are knowledge and love, is not love always a free giving to another? How long can you self-love before you must extend your love to others? (What the Scholastics called being “superfluminous”, i.e. “overflowing”.) And isn’t the ultimate love you can extend to the Creator and Sustainer Himself? But this is problematic, I meant to point out, how you can reach for God without His prior reaching for you?

As for the general gist of your post, however, you are preaching to the choir.

Hi M R N

Unfortunately it is more than just a little introspection and it is more than contemplation: it is the willingness for the conscious experience of our reactions to life’s influences. The natural inclination is to try and cover up change but the goal is to witness what IS.

The value of giving is a big question. The Pharisees could never understand Jesus in this regard. What good is it realistically if we give a person a shirt one day and steal his pants on the next day? What good is it to give alcohol to an alcoholic? The real question is not giving as much as it is motivation. Are we really giving for appearance, from conditioning, or for any number of reasons that pertain to ourselves, or truly for another without regard to ourselves?

Even though they sound familiar I draw a huge distinction between self love and love of self. Love of self is love of potential and the possibilities of this potential. It is the attraction to the development in ourselves of what can be a conscious part of God’s will as opposed to a creature of reaction in isolation that moves from dust to dust. Love of self means to acknowledge our nothingness in relation to it.

Self love is the love of what we believe we are. It is love of image This love extends itself for that which supports it and fights against that which denies it. It is natural then for self love to profess love for others. The kicker is of course this love must be glorified. Its amazing to me that so many people believe God’s love is like this. Tell Mr. God how wonderful he is and he’ll grant you a favor or two.

Love of self doesn’t condemn. It recognizes the human condition for what it is. At its depth it is true compassion. In this way this love truly gives without the need for flattery. Once a person genuinely requires love of self, helping others is natural. It is self love that denies it. Self love is our image and what reveals our image is a threat. This love is selective. Wars are fought over conflicts of self love. Yet true peace and meaningful relationships between people of all types prosper under love of self and its relation to the calling of a higher quality of existence. Self love is no longer dominant to cause divisions arising from self love. Self knowledge clarifies this distinction

Love your neighbor as yourself is an expression that can be taken on several levels. The highest I’ve come to regard as pertaining to love of self while acknowldeging our nothingness. Taken as the “kingdom” we strive to attain it. Loving our neighbor is assisting in this striving at the expense of our imagined self importance.

As far as reaching God without help from above, a person has to try. If successful, all is well. If not, then we need help and if we are open to it, help is available. But whether or not one can progress on their own in spite of the protests of our egotism the life of which these efforts threaten, is something we must verify through experience.

I wonder if we could say more about what type of knowledge we’re talking about. A gnostic knowledge would be a different kind of thing, right? This seems more like a moral knowledge of ourselves rather than an esoteric knowledge…

Hi M R N

I believe moral knowledge, as normally appreciated, is related to a conception of right and wrong. But how is it determined? Self knowledge is deeper IMO since its emphasis isn’t on right or wrong, good or bad, but simply what IS. Only this revelation can allow us to open ourselves to real conscience which unconscious social morality is just a degradation of.

From the text:

This means to me that all my analysis is meaningless in respect to the greater knowledge of the Kingdom. This is why gnosis in Christianity and satori in Zen for example is considered so important. What has come to be our normal means of thought is really dual associative thought and the lowest form of thought we are capable of. Associative thought keeps everything on one level. One thing is always compared to another and the value of the comparison is in proportion to our desires at the moment. However, the Spirit brings a higher quality of thought,objective thought, which is not based on such comparisons but instead in their reconciliation where they are experienced as two sides of the same coin. It is through this thought that we are able to see ourselves and come to realize that this is not “I”. This opens the search for “Who am I?”

I’ve come to appreciate that we are in a strange position. The soul, if we had one, would connect consciousness, if we had it, to the physical world on earth. Where consciousness is the highest, the mechanical physical world is the lowest. Reconciling them is the emotions since emotions recognize quality. However,our emotions have degraded to the point where conceptions of quality has become restricted to egotism. There is little intellectual consideration for objective quality much less the untainted feelings it provides. The realm of the soul is horizontal in that it both receives from above it and acts in accordance with what it has received for the purpose of spiritualizing the earth below it. the soul receives in order to give. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” However, the place of soul is filled with all sorts of imagination denying the spirit.

The spirit is vertical and qualitiative in relation to the horizontal realm of the soul. It introduces the third element of reconciliation from a higher perspective. Associative though becomes expanded into a type of Trinitarian thought that includes this third element of higher reconciliation which allows for true self knowledge. Our lower self is witnessed by the higher from the inclusion of the spirit. From this reconciliation the lion lays with the lamb below. They are part of a continuing higher process then just the lion feeding on the lamb. It is through this reconciliation that enters our psych that we are able to become aware that our normal lives are not “I”, but instead something that takes the place of and denies “I”.

Knowledge of ones real nature cannot become confused with the normal interpretations of our degraded nature. This is putting new wine into old bottles. Our fallen nature is incapable of housing it without destroying it. New bottles are built on humility.

This is really extremely difficult but the essence of self knowledge necessary for those who sincerely need the truth. It is natural for us to want to possess the truth but real self knowledge reveals to us that what we normally are could never appreciate it. At some point we must acquire the courage and freedom to sacrifice all these ideas of self importance, our imagined creative abilities, and everything related to the opinions of ourselves in order to outgrow reliance on these opinions and allow the truth to possess us. This is real humility.

This is beyond me. But I’m convinced that all genuine small steps in that direction that don’t become twisted into our egotism help in what I can only describe now as karma. Real mastery IMO leads to re-birth and the Kingdom.

The void here is our emptiness from the loss of our imagination. Imagination doesn’t want to die. It is the spirit that fills the void. It is through direct knowledge that the ability for such a transition becomes possible. Normally our essential cries for freedom are swallowed up by our programmed life and the belief that we are what we are not and the “pride of the knower” that it produces.

When she puts it like that, there’s not much room for platitudes.

I challenged you to define knowledge, and I don’t get your answer. How about if I ask about the love that must be superadded on top of it?

Here are my thoughts on this; maybe we will connect somewhere. We know what IS. (I think you said that too.) But what we cannot mean by “being” cannot be things as we find them in the world, simply speaking, because in the world there are manifest defects of being. I think this is where Campbell went wrong in the Moyers interviews: we cannot love the evil, the defect and non-existence in the world. It is Being itself we must love and everything in It. We must love the true, the good and the beautiful.

my real name

Hi m r n

I meant to define knowledge in the esoteric (inner) sense as self knowledge which discriminates between the real and unreal within our common presence. Self knowledge includes the inner experience of the effects of the laws of “being” that govern our universe This is in contrast to regular life the normal concern of which is to make life as agreeable as possible for our self esteem and fantasy or the unreal is even valued in making it so.

If the external world is simply the continual manifestations of lawful effects of universal law, where is the defect in being? The horrors that you refer to are the results of being attached to the earth and its effect on our being. We may not like some of the effects but is that enough to warrant the label of “defects of being?” Must there be a defect? Suppose there is only the natural flow of effects interacting with other effects producing still other effects. This would then be the basic interaction of universal laws.

I believe that both individually and collectively that man’s life reflects his being. since we are as we are, life is as it is.

Being is relative and a person’s being can change. All the great traditions stress inner change in one form or anothere. Take the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism for example:

The emphasis here is on our inner nature without reference to a defect in being of the external world. Man has the possibility of a change of being that frees him from attachment to the earth that produces what appears to be defects in being but are actually, I believe, normal expressions for the level of being that defines our lives.

This could be a really meaningful discussion but before getting into universal love or unconditional love as it pertains to life on earth taken as a whole, first tell me if you would agree that the “defect” of being really refers to US with the implication that our “being” can be greater than it is?

"Understanding"as I’ve grown to accept it, can be described symbolically as the intersection of the horizontal line of knowledge with the vertical line of being. It is one meaning of the Cross. The invitation of the cross is the invitation for a change of being. This change produces “understanding” of a quality that is truly human and not the usual blind reactive life as suggested in Plato’s allegory of the cave natural for the scattered nature of our being filled with imagination.

I’ve been thinking about knowledge and I’d like to ask you your opinions about the following excerpt from the text in respect to valuing knowledge as the love of truth:

Do I really want this? It means I have to come to the position of being able to die to myself, my conditioned concept of myself because, as Simone Weil suggests, “Truth is on the side of death.” I take this to mean objective existence that is not my illusion.

The same idea is in the Bible:

It seems that the importance is placed on the ability to come to die to ourselves, the imaginations that create the dominating opinions of ourselves, the hold of our attachments, so as to invite higher life and not just a slave to imagination.

Do we see this as the same or do you have a different view? It is a profound question IMO to come to grips with. It is IMO the reason why many can only search to a point and must back off. I know it is this way with me and a gradual process trying to come closer to this point. We don’t want to die to ourselves emotionally and can accept it only theoretically. It is no wonder then that escapism becomes such an attractive compromise. Love of truth sounds romantic at the beginning but speaking from my experience; oh how that changes once sincerity enters into the picture. Rough stuff!

Perhaps it is love of and living of the Truth that is the Cross. Even the truth about ourselves that we are not fully actual to our essence as people, but still have potency to actualise as virtue. The earth is not evil, it is what we grow from. Like potency. But once we accept in humility and see with inspiration, we can become more fully what we are.

I think this is a very standard understanding of the psychology, but there it is. As for the roughness of following the path, maybe that’s why many are charged to go to a pep-talk once a week.

I’d like to point to a reference. In Plato’s Symposium there is a monologue of the priestess Diotima I’ve always found interesting and uplifting. It is about how we begin by loving bodily things (like human bodies), and our loves climb up (through love of laws or tunes) to immaterial things. I thought mention of it would cast more light and confirmation (agreement with another source) on the discussion.

Also, have we mentioned yet how love follows upon knowledge, and how knowledge follows upon love? I learned that in college, but (shucks) I don’t remember who to quote for it.


Hi m r n

I see what you are describing as carrying ones cross leading to personal crucifixion. I see the experience of the cross as the willingness and openness to die to oneself. The wood of the cross is dead and a dead corpse is left upon it. Life is now beyond its limitations The transition into higher life normal for"Man" is the hopeful result. Conceptions of the Cross is a topic in itself.

I agree, but would you also agree that this is quite rare. This is a classic example IMO of the old adage: “much easier said than done.”

Thanks for mentioning it. It fits right in and worth discussing. It is a very deep conception and opens the door to another related discussion on the difference between love and sex as is natural for bodily love.

I’ll post a link to both a summary and an attached link to the Symposium itself for those interested and may at some point want to add some thoughts. … posium.htm

Procreation, from how I understand Diotima, includes sexual reproduction at one level and also re-birth to another. Sexual reproduction expands into the horizontal line of existence in time while re-birth ascends along the vertical line of being outside of time.

I don’t know offhand the quote you refer to. Initially I would think that we live with animal love with inclinations towards a higher love which isn’t by nature bad but just limited in that it is selective. The harm is that it becomes perverted A higher truth inviting the conscious experience of it allows for the experience of a more profound experience of life which we are drawn to which in turn invites higher knowledge. Both love and knowledge taken in this way I believe are beyond the confines of our egotism so for want of a better expression, they must be considered in the context of selflessness. From the text:

As an idealist I’ve been attracted to this idea of knowledge and love being complimentary and also as natural for a profound man/woman union. The woman more naturally reflects the path of the heart while the man is drawn more naturally to knowledge. There are so many fables where the prince is turned into a toad and is kissed by the princess capable of profound love and he turns back into the prince and now takes her up to his castle. This means to me knowledge lost and regained. This is just the old idea that the man’s initial idea of knowledge is earth based. The woman opens him up to becoming aware of something calling from above the earth. He searches and when he finds it, introduces the woman into what he has discovered. At this point they are both the union of knowledge and love.

Society has become so influential on the individual that acceptance of such differences has become absolutely politically incorrect asserting instead that somehow we’ve already discovered this and are now the same. This total lack of humility and willingness to admit our lack of either higher love or higher knowledge leading to acquiring a meaningful spiritual perspective now appears to me as mainstream acceptance. The Great Beast not only growls but howls his approval to this, what I believe to be, disregard for the fruits of humility.

There is a lot on the table. Is there anything that stands out that you’d like to lead to? It really is all related.

How about this paragraph:

I take a realist stance, which explains our differences.

I’ve thought that for a while, that the man is the head and the woman the heart of a union. Let’s go with that.

One might also turn to (now who’s getting esoteric) the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest stories recovered. In it, Gilgamesh, king of sumer, makes friends with Enkidu, who runs with the animals. He tames or civilizes Enkidu by sending him a woman to lie down with him. Gilgamesh and Enkidu then go on to fight a huge monster in the woods in which battle Enkidu is killed and Gilgamesh goes on to travel to the underworld to try to bring him back to life. I took it as a story of reincarnation, with Enkidu as the body and Gilgamesh the soul – with Gilgamesh mourning over the loss of his past life.

But anyway, the text came to mind because I didn’t quite understand when I read it how woman civilizes man. Maybe you can divine the answer. Does she start the knowledge-love dialectic? Or maybe she’s just a first human to accept and relate to.

Is the dialectic of love similar to Hegel’s dialectic?
(Thinking of “Lordship and Bondage” in Phenomenology of Spirit here.
I think I wrote about this in another topic…)


Hi mrn

Gilgamesh can be taken in several ways. I’m far from sure if my take on has merit but since the whole epic is incomplete and I am reading translations, it is hard to tell for sure.

I take the harlot as introducing Endicu into egotism. As the harlot, she was already fully corrupted with vanity and the sense of self that the harlot introduced must also be unreal. This is why the animals no longer took to him after his encounter with her. He was no longer natural but corrupt and satisfied to allow civilization to take the place of his nature,

Yet in the esoteric traditions, it is this corruption that gives man his possibilities. It is through the struggle to free oneself of this corrupt egotism that man evolves towards consciousness and “I”. This is the meaning I draw from the seventh tablet as described here:

Revelation it seems is a mixed blessing.

However, what the woman provides when not corrupt or at least with the full awareness of our tendency towards emotional corruption is extremely valuable for a man. This is related more to sex than with love. She, in their union, exposes him to the emotional experience of a higher quality of life that we normally allow to degenerate into the goals of unconscious society

Sex in addition, as I’ve come to understand it, serves primarily the purpose of regulating the flow of the creative energies through us allowing also the elimination of substances built up in us from various psychic activities. This regulation is valuable for providing the balance of our psych opening ius to begin to experience beyond ourselves. Great harm has been done IMO by associating the sexual function with behavioral patterns without any understanding of human “being” further closing us off and into imagination.

The second function of sex is procreative but from the conscious perspective, raises the question of responsibility towards the quality of conception, an idea virtually unknown where consciousness is not valued.

The third has to do with the sacred aspect of marriage which is the intentional blending of the male and female principles for the creation of inner unity. This, of course, requires real consciousness on both parts and the valuing and understanding of their complimentary relationship.

I know this is superficial but I’m just indicating that the civilizing effect is one thing but then comes what the ancient traditions refer to as “awakening”, which outgrows dependency on civilization allowing a person to participate within civilization not as a slave to the “great beast”, but as an actualized human being understanding the human condition in relation to its potential with the freedom of action within all the surrounding reaction sustaining the status quo.

I’d be curious tolearn your take on the meaning of Christ being Annointed at Bethany that occurs in Matthew Mark and John. IMO it was Mary’s emotional purity and its resultant higher access to qualitative understanding that allowed her to apprecdiate Jesus in a way the disciples could not yet do. The emotions were ahead of higher knowledge. The disciples still associated Jesus with an earthly mission with the results to come. Mary though emotionally realized it existed “now.” Do you see it similarly?

Man and woman were initially"one". They were divided into two for the purposes of sexual reproduction necessary for cosmic needs at the time. Conscious appreciation of both sides of the same coin is part of the path that with help from above, leads to the way. Conscious appreciation requires a certain purity of emotion. Our inability to cope with this, I believe, is one of the chief stumbling blocks. Yet men and women, when they realize it, can relate in ways that normally appear inconceivable for us from defining worth by behavioral patterns.

It really strikes me as ironic that so much of what is called “sex education,” is really just the accepted perpetuation of abnormality sustaining mechanical civilization at the expense of conscious awareness. But, we call it “knowledge.” :slight_smile:

The man/woman union IMO can either be the most productive or destructive relationship between people depending upon what we call “personal values.” The highest bond is conscious love where the needs of the other are paramount. The creative energies are then the natural extension of love as the initial unifying energy. It includes the humble recognition of something higher than ourselves. The lowest is emotional love where the bond is determined by how the other makes us feel and being transient and motivated from self importance, must change.

This “civilizing” is truly a double edged coin

I’ve never looked at it that way before, but in any case, she did have a lot of faith, which I suppose is knowledge – and love.

Perhaps marriage should always be engaged in by lovers of the truth.
But then, I wonder if a Philosopher can accomplish this challenge on his own with only a love of truth.

I think we are ready to write the rough draft of the primary text on this subject. You handle the general Idealist arguments, and I will include a chapter here and there on how the Realist perspective differs – and, if correct, exceeds.


I liked the Shakespeare Sonnet and was struck by:

The ever fixed mark means for me not only the love for truth but the highest truth and the highest good which is God. This leads to something I have a great difficulty with and though intellectually I can see it is my egotism, still its influence is very strong. it is the idea that good times and bad times have to be considered the same in relation to love of God since relative good/evil is the domain of the earth which the love of God leads one out from. Yet it is knowledge of the human condition that opens one to the calling of higher love. The article describes it here:

Now, as the article suggests, the ego doesn’t want to accept this from being caught up in good and bad. The story of Job seems to me to describe this. Job still has a love for God despite affliction because intuitively he knows they are unrelated. Even though he had all those “experts” around him explaining the various things he must have done wrong, he stuck by his intuition that he had nothing to do with it. Yet with all the blaming of God that is spoken, obviously only a few are willing to be open to this division of levels where the attraction of love pulls one beyond the limitations of conceptualized good and evil.

Simone Weil is describing for me the psychological depth of the Crucifixion. A psychological skeleton is presented for which we are invited to fill in with living experience. And people wonder why I am in awe of the psychological depth of esoteric Christianity. It opens me to the experience of “being” in a way that I could not find on my own.

But again,this is just me and I may be totally off base. Its verification through becoming open is the search. Do you see this quality of love explained in the article in a similar fashion?