“A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.
“If your knowledge teaches you not the value of things, and frees you not from the bondage to matter, you will never come near the throne of truth.
“If your knowledge teaches you not to rise above human weakness and misery and lead your fellow man on the right path, you are indeed a man of little worth and will remain such till judgment day.
“Learn the words of wisdom uttered by the wise and apply them in your own life. Live them—but do not make a show of reciting them, for he who repeats what he does not understand is no better than an ass that is loaded with books.” ~Kahlil Gibran
It should be clear to anyone that active knowledge is better than inactive knowledge. It should also be clear that knowledge is better than ignorance. Yet knowledge that is not put to use is pointless. It’s like freezing to death in the cold while clutching a heavy coat in your hands.
Every few years, we hear of some homeless person who dies and then it is fond that the person has many thousands of dollars in the bank. He could easily have afforded a comfortable apartment instead of sleeping in the streets. But he thought money was something to hoard rather than a tool to be used. Having knowledge and not putting it to use is much like that guy.
Of course, how you use knowledge depends on the kind of knowledge. Knowledge of medicine won’t help you build a bridge. Knowledge of manufacturing cloth won’t feed the hungry, but it can help cloth the naked. Spiritual knowledge may not help much with problems in the physical world, but it can help if put into action for spiritual growth. It is even more important that spiritual knowledge be active knowledge than with basic knowledge of matter.
Above Human Weakness
Not all knowledge is equal and Gibran, being a spiritual teacher as well as a poet, is interested primarily in that knowledge which aids in spiritual growth. I don’t think I would go so far as to say a person whose knowledge is limited to the mundane world is a “man of little worth,” but such knowledge certainly isn’t as good as spiritual knowledge. The materialists will, of course, argue otherwise. The materialist is making those decisions based on partial and distorted knowledge that cannot really be considered truth. And if it isn’t truth, it isn’t knowledge. Active knowledge should be spiritual knowledge.
Ass with Books
What a great image that is! An ass loaded with books carries much knowledge, but understands none of it and can’t put it to any practical use. This knowledge is a burden to the poor beast rather than an aid.
Many people like that can be heard regularly commenting in spiritual groups on social media. That comment that religion is useless and the opposite of spirituality. Their proof of this: someone told them. They have done no studies of religion at all before forming that conclusion. Hey post about meditation be the only thing one need for spiritual enlightenment. Their roof: they read it somewhere. Here’s a clue: many millions are practicing meditation daily, yet we don’t have world peace or great spiritual people popping up like mushrooms. But let’s believe anyway because we read it.
Another part of active knowledge is you believe what works, not imply what you were told. You do the techniques and get results. If you are not getting any results after years of practice, then maybe those techniques are not the know-all and be-all of spiritual development and you need to look at something more advanced.