Does knowledge make us smart or foolish? Our common sense tells us that the more we possess knowledge, the more we become intelligent.
There is, however, an inevitable trade-off.
Knowledge is one of the powerful tools to give us how to see the differences in the world. With this, we can consciously pursue the Big Three fundamentals like Beauty, Goodness, and Truth.
That means, we can also see the world through various binaries such as beauty and ugliness, good and evil, truth and false, love and hate, pleasure and pain, light and darkness, life and death, heaven and earth, and more.
Life has suddenly transformed into the constant shuttles between positivity and negativity, or the path from darkness to light, from earth to heaven. Life is suffering; at the same time, the ordeal to get out of it.
The story of the tree of knowledge tells us such transformation.
After eating a fruit from the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve have suddenly “realized” their destiny. They have to leave the Garden of Eden and face the life of suffering.
God warned them not to eat this fruit, or they would surely die. Nevertheless, they ate it. And they died. They can no longer live in the Garden of Eden.
The story goes this way:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.Genesis 2:16-17
After eating the fruit, God told Adam and Eve as follows:
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art , and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.Genesis 3:16-20
Their life in the Garden of Eden has ended. They are no longer spontaneous. Knowledge has entered into their consciousness. What they see is not pure chaos anymore, but the grid of knowledge.
One of the ancient Chinese sages, Zhuang Zhou (369 BC to 286 BC), commonly known as Zhuangzi, wrote many enigmatic allegories. One of them is entitled “The Death of Wonton” (or Hundun).
Wonton or Hundun means “chaos” in Chinese. What does it mean when we say the death of chaos?
The story goes as follows:
The emperor of the South Sea was called Shu [Brief]; the emperor of the North Sea was called Hu [Sudden]; and the emperor of the central region was called Hundun [Chaos]. From time to time, Shu and Hu came together for a meeting in the territory of Hundun, and Hundun treated them very generously. Shu and Hu discussed how they could repay his kindness. “All men,” they said, “have seven openings so they can see, hear, eat, and breathe. But Hundun alone doesn’t have any. Let’s trying boring him some!” Every day they bored another hole, and on the seventh day Hundun died.The Zhuangzi
The emperor Chaos was so pure and compassionate. He was able to see the world as is. But other emperors, Brief and Sudden, thought they should give Chaos a so-called fruit of knowledge.
Chaos did not have any sensors (openings) to see the world through the grid of knowledge. Taking seven days, therefore, Brief and Sudden made holes one by one for Chaos to correctly see the world. After seven days, however, when all senses were ready, at this moment, Chaos died.
He died in the Garden of Eden and will have to live in the world.
Chaos died, and yet this emperor perhaps with his different new name would continuously have to live in this world as one of the worldly emperors, just like Brief and Sudden, seeing and experiencing the life of suffering.
Image by Bessi