In general usage:
- The state or fact of knowing.
- Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study.
- The sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned.
- Learning; erudition: teachers of great knowledge.
- Specific information about something.
- Carnal knowledge.
In an esoteric context, knowledge as opposed to information means that what is known is known in context and in an applicable form. Knowledge implies having assimilated the information and having made it a part of oneself.
Knowledge does not automatically imply that the knowledge in question correspond to reality. One may believe and act on false information which one has mistaken for knowledge.
Knowledge is tied to being. A certain level of being, or cohesion of parts of self will be required before information on a particular subject becomes knowledge.
knowledge strongly suggests an element of skill or know-how, of capacity of application. Information may turn to knowledge by being applied.
Knowledge often suggests a meaning of first hand knowledge, acquired by experience. Not all knowledge requires direct experience of the object of knowledge, for example one does not have to be persecuted in order to know about the possibility of being persecuted. There the criterion of knowledge is applying the knowledge of the danger for avoiding directly experiencing this same danger.
Gurdjieff tells us that esoteric knowledge is like a material substance. There is only a certain amount of this substance allotted to the world at each time. If this stuff of knowledge is spread too thin, it does nobody any good. In great condensations, when a large amount is shared between relatively few, knowledge can produce great change and benefit.
While this may sound unfair, this is not so: The majority of people have no interest in claiming even their due amount of knowledge, hence much stuff of knowledge goes unclaimed. This is specially so in times of turmoil. Thus an aspect of esoteric work is gathering this knowledge.
When in possession of such knowledge, groups become, as it were, more intelligent, they can do at a level that surpasses their individual or collective 'regular' intelligence. The concept may relate to the 4th Way notion of higher 'hydrogens' and to the ideas of 'intelligent energy' as explained by Ra. At any rate, substances (hydrogens) are seen to be endowed with a certain 'intelligence' or 'vivifyingness' proper to each level of hydrogen.
The Cassiopaea material speaks extensively of knowledge. The key idea is that assimilation of knowledge, then understood in an applied esoteric sense, is an intrinsically limitless concept capable of providing one with all understanding as well as protection one may need. Knowledge and love are related, in the sense of facets of a whole: One may only love that which one knows and will naturally seek to know that which one loves. Otherwise the 'love' is an internal attachment to imagination.
The New Testament parable of the talents probably refers to esoteric knowledge. See Matthew :25:14:
- 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
- 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
- 25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
- 25:17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
- 25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
- 25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. :25:20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
- 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
- 25:22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
- 25:23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
- 25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: :25::25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
- 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: :25:27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
- 25:28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
- 25:29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 1111
Knowledge has 'negative entropy.' This means that an accumulation of knowledge, when this knowledge is put to use, as suggested by the investing of money above, causes more knowledge to accrete around it. This is in a sense true of learning in general but considering Gurdjieff's idea of knowledge as a substance which when concentrated opens qualitatively new possibilities, we suspect there is more to the matter.
The presence of knowledge in a system decreases its entropy and adds order to the system. In this sense knowledge, when it is objective, i.e. corresponds to the system which it concerns, is creative.