What is the difference between knowledge and experience?

He was not fulfilled, it was not enough, someone was missing, something was missing, this feeling was overwhelming, he had everything, he had nothing, what is life if he cannot find happiness or peace or satisfaction? What is life but an empty gust of wind? Throughout his journey, Siddhartha found the difference between knowledge and experience can be substantial. As “wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it”(54). Although both may be similar, there is one detrimental factor that differentiates the two tremendously; empathy. 

Religion has always been an important factor that plays into how I live my everyday life. Since my whole family and most of my friends were catholic, I was always surrounded by my faith. I knew there were other religions and different rules that other people live by, but I never really understood until I did a whole project focusing solely on another religion. 

The ancient wisdom project; a project that forces one out of their comfort zone in order to fully comprehend the ideas of another. Researching stage; we started researching and organizing all we could find on the islamic religion. I thought that I already understood some aspects of the religion since it was fairly similar to catholicism and my own experience. Some key differences include sawm, where they fast from sunrise to sunset, and salah, where they pray 5 times a day; sunrise, noon, afternoon, sunset, and night. Eventually, I had a basic understanding of the basis of the religion. Experimenting stage; a week living as muslims. I knew muslims had to fast and abstain from water throughout the day from the research we did before starting, and I definitely thought it was a harsh rule, but I didn’t realize how difficult it was until I FELT it first hand. It was most definitely different from my usual eating routines. I didn’t understand how muslims had the strength and perseverance to go through the whole day without eating or drinking, specifically with the temptations of modern day society. Experiencing it first hand made me empathize with the muslims because I realized just how much energy that food provided was necessary to do everyday tasks. Another hard task during this week was praying at the mandatory times, specifically sunrise and night. Since I don’t normally wake up that early and stay up that late, combined with the fasting, I had less energy during the day, which made it fairly difficult to go through school or run errands. Reflection stage; we documented the entire process and condensed it into one video. By living out a week as a muslim, I was able to percieve insights on the religion because I had the same perspective. 

Similar to Siddhartha, humans aren’t able to fully comprehend the full ideology without experiencing it themselves. Another factor that contributes to enlightenment is empathy. Feeling empathy means understanding and accepting. Siddhartha felt that he was missing something in his life, even though he was taught spiritual enlightenment his whole life. He felt that he couldn’t fully understand until he experienced it himself on his own journey (36). Connecting this to my ancient wisdom project, I was only able to understand the full dedication of muslims to their gods when I attempted to follow their harsh rules. Experience allows one to apprehend a situation or idea through feelings of empathy. 

“The Decline of Play”; a ted talk given by Peter Gray that focuses on the importance and lack of children playing. After listening to the talk, I definitely agreed with some of the points such as the action of play allowing children to learn the fundamentals basics of society and its rules and play allowing children to learn to socialize with other children. Hearing stories from Gray made me realize the importance of play and all of its benefits. However, I really saw how play could help when I experienced it myself on global school day. Exhibit A; each game has a unique set of rules that need to be followed in order for the game to carry out correctly. For instance, the game, monopoly, stimulates some of the aspects of real life economy and marketing with its set currency. Playing the game on global school day made me realize just how much I could actually learn from a board game and enjoy myself at the same time. Personally, I noticed that I was giving myself an allowance to spend on properties, so that I didn’t run out of money. Exhibit B; social skills start to develop at a young age even when people are just playing with each other. During these games, it dawned on me how necessary it was for perfect communication in order for the games to function properly. When playing the games it taught me to empathize with other people. When someone was struggling to learn all the new rules of the game, it would make me want to help them even more. Individually, I observed that every person’s experiences are different and many life lessons can be learned from them. Although knowledge through words and stories can help someone learn, it’s experience that allows a person to take away even MORE lessons through the process of mistakes and personal experiences. 

Wisdom; the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise. Knowledge is what lets us learn through books and information through words. Experience is what allows us to learn through actions and empathy. From both knowledge through words and experience from his journey, Siddhartha eventually achieved what he was looking for, a spirit of fulfillment, love, acceptance, and wisdom.

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