In our life we take decisions both in our personal and professional life. We undertake many work some time on the spurt of the moment, and sometimes after deep deliberations. Yet we are not certain of success of our decisions and actions all the times. We are hit by random events, unexpected happenings that are against our expectation. This is the case even we think that we are taking an informed, knowledgeable decisions. The reason is difference between knowledge and ignorance. Information, partial information, misinformation, lack of information, misconception, dynamics of information all play its part. The oft heard parlance in management corridor, when postmortem of negative events are being dissected is, well, we took decision with the available information at that time and with the understanding of the same.
Is it possible for one to be correct always? Can we know all information upfront by research? Can ignorance be warded off by knowledge? If so what needs to be done and how. This is playing out at the background of our mind for no one is spared of issue that there have been things that could have been avoided had the information that is known currently had been known then. That is what we call us hindsight bias.
There is this beautiful passage from the book “The philosophy of Sanskrit Grammar” by Prabhat Chandra Chakravarthi attributed to “Barthruhari” that explains the limitation of our understanding and resultant ignorance.
“What should we then do under these anomalous circumstances? Human knowledge is limited by nature. It is not possible for a man to know anything in its entirety. To realise the ultimate essence of a thing lies practically beyond the range of human intelligence and what is almost incontestable is that our knowledge and experience, as Bhartruhari rightly observes are in most cases liable to be inaccurate and imperfect.
Human knowledge is must be remembered, is bound to be of difference types, the same object being variously perceived by difference men. Truth does not reveal itself to all persons. A man’s intelligence, however sharp and far-reaching, does not help him in getting into the real nature of things. If we closely examine our experience, drawn from personal observations, we do not fail to see how often we are deceived by it. knowledge as its comes from experience is subject to error.
As our experience are likely to be false and defective in most of the cases we should not treat them as the basis of our experience, without examining their validity by means of reasoning. Thus what is perceived directly by sense organs required to be fully determined by reasoning. Observations unaided by reasoning are not to be relied on as evidence at all. “
Bharadwaja was a venerable sage in Hindu lineage. Many of the ancient treatise, vedic scriptures are attributed to him. The story is that his thirst for knowledge was insatiable that he could not complete his learning even after repeated birth and he asked for extension of life by hundred years to Lord Siva, ( some say Lord Indra) multiple times so that he can continue his pursuance of knowledge unhindered. Twice it happened. Third time the reply he gets is interesting. The God tells him that, do you see the Mountain Himalaya far off. That is the vastness of knowledge available in Vedas. For our understanding let us say knowledge needed to lead a righteous life. And what you gain in life time is equivalent to the dirt you can hold in your hand.
So when and how did ignorance get attached to us. Do we become knowledgeable all of a sudden the answer is no. Ignorance is a state of illusion. The knowledge that is inside us has been veiled for reasons unknown to us. Like a brightness in a vessel that shines after cleaning, ignorance has to be removed and knowledge has to be obtained by cleaning out senses, mind and intellect of the dirt and darkness hiding the real beauty, so that knowledge can come out and shine.
So, let us not feel bad for our past mistakes and ignorance that has been the cause for it. We did our best. And no guarantee that we will not make mistakes in the future. Yet, let us go ahead and understand our true nature and try to eradicate our misconceptions, lack of knowledge slowly, be it in our daily life or aspirational life by association with wise people, role models, learning from scripture, by our experience, Intellect and intuition. One day we may reach there.