The desire for knowledge can be traced in all living beings, in the lower creation as well as in mankind. If one notices the movements of the birds and animals in the forest, one sees that besides their seeking for their food, their playing with their mates, their protecting themselves from their enemy, they are also interested in every sensation that comes to them through their five senses. Sound, color, touch, scent, every sensation has an effect upon them. One can trace in the animals the natural desire to know something, and it is this tendency which in human evolution can be recognized as curiosity. From childhood this tendency seems predominant, and the more a child shows this tendency the more promising the child is, because that shows that so much more the soul part of the child is to the fore. Among grown-up persons what strikes us most in their personality is that brilliance of intelligence, apart from all their goodness and virtue. If this is such an important thing in life, it must have as a result a most important achievement. And what is that achievement ? This achievement is the knowledge of the ultimate truth, which fulfills the purpose of life.
A curious soul begins by trying to know everything that it sees, that it comes in contact with. What it wants to know first is the name of an object, what it is called, what it is for, what it is, what it is used for, how it is made, how to make the best of a thing, how to profit by it to the utmost. This knowledge is what we call learning. The different divisions of learning, called by different names, are the classification of this knowledge which one gains by study of the outside world. But life is so short and the field of this knowledge is so vast that a person may go on and on studying. He may perhaps study one branch of knowledge, and he may find that one life is not sufficient even to be fully acquainted with that one particular branch of knowledge. And there is another person; he is not satisfied with only touching one branch of knowledge, he wants to touch many branches of knowledge. He may become acquainted to a certain degree with different aspects of knowledge. It may perhaps make him, if he reaches somewhere, what may be called an all-round man. Yet that is not the thing which will suffice the purpose of his life. Al-Farabi, the great Arabian scientist in ancient times, claimed that he knew many sides of knowledge, but when it came to showing his equipment in the knowledge of music, he proved to be lacking in that essential part, which was not the theory of music but the practice of music itself.
Knowledge can be divided into two aspects: one aspect is the knowledge which we call learning, the other aspect is knowing. Learning comes from the reason “it is so, because it is so”. That is knowledge. But there is a knowing which cannot be explained as “because”. It can only be said, “It is so, it cannot be anything else”. The knowledge with its “because” attached is contradicted a thousand times over. One scientist, one inventor, one learned person has one argument; another comes and he says, “This is not what I think. I have found out the truth about it, which the one who saw it before did not perceive rightly”. It has always been and will always be so with the outer knowledge. But with that knowing which is the essential knowledge there has never been a difference and there will never be. The prophets of all ages, in whatever part of the world they were born, when they have touched this realm of knowing, have all agreed on this same thing. That the God is one, and that one day we shall all return to him for a judgement. It is therefore that they called it truth (‘Haq’). It was not because this was the conception of one person or the speculation of another person or the doctrine of a certain professor or the teaching of a certain religion. No, it was the knowledge of every knowing soul. And every soul, whether in the past, present or future, whenever it arrives at that stage where it knows, will realize the same thing. Therefore, it is in that knowledge that there is to be found the satisfaction of the purpose of one’s coming on the earth. Knowledge gives sight. It shows us that which we could not see before. Knowledge is power, and a knowledgeable person is powerful.