TED Conversations

Victoria Raney

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Could we hit a maximum capacity of information sharing via written media? Or is this an infinitely moving target?

I suppose I have Buddhism on my mind. But if we were capable of gleaning all of the knowledge and perspectives available in books (even at this instant in time), would we experience enlightenment?

And to carry that a step further, what would be the impact of our own writing if that were the case?

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  • Feb 19 2014: Enlightenment is not a what. Enlightenment is a how. Information does not produce enlightenment. It is a particular way of putting that information together. Some very "uneducated" people are remarkably enlightened. Some very erudite people might as well be a data retrieval system.

    On my best day, I hope I am somewhere somewhat above data retrieval system--at least I am aware of enlightenment.
  • Feb 15 2014: Don't you hit your maximum capacity when you turn off! Human nature has been abandoning maximums by destroying ourselves or just walking away or starting something new. Remember the VHS, CD'S, Magnetic tapes on Big computer machines, punch cards all have information you will never know. The Spanish burned the entire written civilization of the Maya. Knowledge is constantly being destroyed and reinvented.

    I thought enlightenment wasn't someone elses' experience but your own. Reading about others experiences is not your enlightenment and you really do possess all of the worlds intellectual knowledge. You can read instantly on any topic your mind takes you.Welcome to your enlightenment.
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    Feb 15 2014: I definitely think it is and will always be a moving target. If it was possible to possess all the knowledge from writing it would certainly provide an incredible theoretical background for enlightenment, but you would still need a vast amount of first hand experience. Spiritual experience, interactions with the natural world, and considerable relationships with other people would be necessary for you to even begin to understand the meaning of all that knowledge, much less translate it to enlightenment.

    In terms of how it would impact writing, that is an excellent question. Would it even be possible for someone to create and form new concepts if they knew everything in written media?
  • Feb 14 2014: Not a chance. Knowledge is not wisdom. Consider for example that an idea once fully formed is a static form whereas the creation of the idea is not, this is when the mind is alive. In addition, knowledge of say facts, which would appear to be the case if you somehow had access to every book, is not an understanding or the meaning if what is read. Enlightenment has to do with an internal experience of the true nature of the world both inside and out. It has little to do with knowledge.
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    Feb 14 2014: books are good, but there are many sources of enlightenment, for example your interactions with other people, or the time you spend just thinking?
    • Feb 19 2014: Or even going through miserable experiences with an ex and being immediately confronted with a smiling toddler who, more than anything, just wants to sit on your lap.
  • Feb 17 2014: you in essence you seem to ask : what would be the impact of an enlightened own writings?

    The enlightened know enlightenment happen when enlightenment happen...
    One could gleaning at all of the knowledge and perspectives without getting to understand nor attaining enlightenment;
    Similarly one could gleaning at just a particular momentary speck and get to understand and attaining enlightenment.

    to carry that a step further... "Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water." I would include the notion: during Enlightenment chop wood carry water! or to use someone else's words "Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success." Of court 'chop wood carry water' stands for some activity (which may even be doing nothing) There exists a singular difference of doing ordinary activities with different attitudes!

    Yes we could hit a maximum capacity of information sharing via written media AND we could infinitely move this target. Did you consider that it could be both and a bit more?
  • Feb 17 2014: 1. The brain is a limited storage device. Hence, there is a limit to the amount of data we can store in it. There is also the retrieval process which usually gets in the way.
    2. With all the data, you will have the answer to the "what" question, but not knowledge nor wisdom. The "what" question is do we know what to do in a given situation.
    3. After a lot of practice for some or very little practice for others, you can answer the "how" question. You know how to do the action and this is knowledge. Some people never reach this even though they think they do.
    4. After a lot of experience or for some very little, you can answer the "why/why not" question. You know why you should do the action and understand when you should not. This in my mind is wisdom and many never reach this, including me.
  • Feb 17 2014: Q1: if we were capable of gleaning all of the knowledge and perspectives available in books (even at this instant in time), would we experience enlightenment?

    Q2:And to carry that a step further, what would be the impact of our own writing if that were the case?

    1. No our psyches would be overloaded with far too vast an amount of information, of which a vast amount would be in conflict; due to being written by, and based upon a vast number of experiences, experienced by a vast number of individuals, living during a time span of many thousands of years. Therefore either we would go insane, or it would take many lifetimes to absorb and analyze such a vast amount of information, by cross relating and referencing all aspects of the information; in order to reach some form of overall consensus of conclusions, in relation to the overall content.

    2. The impact would be, that we would be incapable of writing anything, and if hypothetically we were able to do so; on cross referencing all that we had previously gleaned; we would discover some one else had already written it.

    Cheers Carl
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    Feb 14 2014: "Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought"- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi