The Theosophical Forum – July 1936


The air is replete with radio broadcast programs. In like manner and even in greater diversity within a different scope of vibrations are idea broadcasts. If your radio receiver is hooked up and turned on, you may get a selection from the radio broadcast multitude, or a jumble, or you can "cut out." Ideas are analogous to thought broadcasts. They are not the thoughts themselves any more than the radio broadcast is the music or speech, etc. which energized it and set it on the air. The mind "tuned on a certain wave-length" is stimulated by an idea "on that wave-length," and if it meets with a receptive control condition, it instigates thought. Such thought is not identical with the thought which "broadcast the idea" because it is modified by the many individual and personal qualities of the receiving mind. Also the resultant thought processes energize new ideas or modified ideas in this causal sphere.

Now how about thought, information, and knowledge? The act of thinking involves several factors; the stimulating idea, the mental processes and acumen of the thinker, with admixtures of what the thinker believes to be fact as retained in his own memory. Having arrived at this stage it may lead to action. Knowledge is the quality developed in a thinker by acting or living in accordance with the thoughts.

Information has somewhat the relation to knowledge that an idea has to thought. Knowledge is the quality developed in an individual by thought and experience, using it, in other words. In spite of the fact that it is a commonly used phrase, there is not available to the many the knowledge of an individual. The best that an individual can do in an attempt to "pass on his knowledge" is to set the substance of that knowledge into an available form truly designated information. Thus it would be proper to say, for instance, "Here we have tabulated the information from the Knowledge of the Ancient Ones." Information is tabulated thought, or thoughts.

Wisdom and knowledge are often confused. Knowledge may be on any of the several planes of consciousness, physical, mental, spiritual, or combinations of them. Wisdom can be considered as bearing the same general relation to knowledge as knowledge bears to thought, but it further implies a helpful and constructive aspect rather than the merely general aspect of development.

To some individuals study of a subject seems merely to imply a memorizing of information (the tabulated knowledge and teachings of and by others) and not the full student-ideal, to make knowledge for themselves by putting the absorbed information to use in living. The writer once knew a man who had gained a marvelous fund of memorized information as to "Common Law." He had made of himself almost a cross-indexed reference library of legal information so that a carefully worded question as to a legal decision or court finding would be answered accurately and usually with references. However, he had so concentrated on the memorizing function that he had apparently atrophied his judicial and legal reasoning powers and would be almost helpless as a legal practitioner. He could not reason out the merits of a case for himself. Scope of legal information marvelous, legal knowledge nil, legal wisdom not even started. Students of Theosophy make a constant effort to enrich the mind by thought and information, but also to actively use that enrichment to gain knowledge by action in living, and thus develop the Wisdom which illuminates the living.

One of the reasons why thought, information, and knowledge are confused in use so much is explained by the Theosophical teachings about reincarnation. Each one of us has lived many lives and presumably has gained considerable knowledge in each of those imbodied lives. We are taught that in the period between incarnations on this planet the experience and knowledge gained becomes assimilated by the consciousness centers of our human composite organism affected. Thus on a new reimbodiment the ego seldom has memory of the knowledge in the mental organism, but when information bearing on that knowledge, or similar knowledge comes to the attention of such an individual, the perception is reawakened and one feels immediately the correctness of it. In other words the thought is awakened into knowledge without much actual experience (in the currently manifested life) because there is a memory to a considerable degree of the former conscious knowledge. Truth really begins to be realized when it becomes knowledge, tending to greater and greater perfection of realization as the knowledge approaches Wisdom.

The Theosophical Forum