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Ten Concepts, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

68- Harmful knowledge


Some knowledge is very harmful like that in which our father Adam and our mother Eve fell. It led them to lose their innocence and simplicity and live in the dualism of good and evil, truth and falsity, the lawful and the unlawful. Their children lived and still live in this dualism up to the present day.

True then are the words of the Wise Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, "For in much wisdom is much grief" (Eccl. 1:18).

These words relate to the knowledge of harmful things that are of no benefit to a person, but may actually cause him harm. At times he may claim that such knowledge is merely general knowledge, not realizing its danger!

Therefore one of the spiritual fathers said the following beneficial words : 'Sometimes we make an effort to know things for which we shall not be condemned on the Day of Judgment for ignorance thereof . If we are not to be condemned for not knowing these matters, how much rather shall we be condemned for knowing things that are harmful for us and that have a bad impact on us?'

Keep in mind the consequences of such harmful knowledge.

Whatever knowledge comes to your mind will affect your senses and feelings, and will affect your relationship with others. Moreover, such knowledge will be stored in your subconscious.

This knowledge will affect and influence your subconscious in the form of suspicions, thoughts or dreams. It will extend within you and outside to a great extent and you may not be able to stop it or its harmful effects.

Therefore we should use our intellect in accepting only matters which are of benefit to us and to others.         Image: Vincent van Gogh - Portrait of Dr Gachet Seated at a Table - Auvers sur Oise, June 1890 صورة: لوحة من عمل الفنان فينسينت فان جوخ، د. جاشيت جالس على منضدة، أوفريه سور أويس، يونيو 1890 Image: Vincent van Gogh - Portrait of Dr Gachet Seated at a Table - Auvers sur Oise, June 1890

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: لوحة من عمل الفنان فينسينت فان جوخ، د. جاشيت جالس على منضدة، أوفريه سور أويس، يونيو 1890

Many people wept and regretted knowledge which have been stored in their minds.

They wished they would have not known such things whether by reading about it or experiencing through the senses. They feel at a loss as to how to remove such knowledge from their minds after it being implanted in them.

An example is those who fall into drug addiction, and are unable to get out of it.

Some kind of knowledge changes one's look to various matters and even to certain people.

Our mother Eve, after taking the harmful, deceitful knowledge from the serpent, changed her perception towards the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was in the midst of the garden and which she perhaps was everyday.

After such knowledge, Eve "saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise" (Gen. 3:6).

After her perception towards the tree changed, lust entered into her heart to eat of it, as we have discussed this issue before here on in other sections. So, "she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate."

Another kind of harmful knowledge is doubt. A scientist once said, 'It is easy for doubt to enter one's mind. But it is difficult to cast it out.'

So, if you give an ear to someone who throws doubt in your heart regarding a certain person, by making false accusations, or if you indulge in reading harmful material which might make you suspicious concerning your faith or the Scriptures, you will have to exert much effort to rid yourself of such suspicions. This doubtfulness might last a long time, until God's grace visits you and relieves you of your suspicions.

A person should, therefore, be careful in choosing the source of his knowledge.

Keep your mind pure and do not blot it with harmful knowledge. Be very careful regarding what you read, hear or see; and be careful in choosing the friends who impart knowledge or bring you harmful experiences, harmful information or inappropriate thoughts. Do not let such knowledge abide in your mind except after being completely assured of it and after ascertaining what is true and what is false.

Do not think that thoughts are of no concern, for thoughts often bring forth many other thoughts.

One word which comes to your mind may, for example, produce a story or more. Know then that protecting oneself from a thought is much better than accepting it and later having to rid yourself of it.

Be very careful regarding the transfer of knowledge and thoughts.

Some harmful knowledge may come to you, and you by turn transfer it to another and cause him harm. After suffering from this knowledge, you try to rid yourself of it, and by God's grace you do, however, what about the other person you have relayed this harmful information to? You will be condemned for the harm you caused to the other person. In this case, your sin did not harmed you but has harmed the person you transferred that harmful knowledge to.

It is your past which follows you; the harmful knowledge you have spread, whether by speech, writing or other means.

Those who commit the sin of judging and belittling others by conveying wrong things about them, or speaking about their mistakes, will be tortured by their conscience which may awaken them and reprove them for what they had done.

This applies also to those who invent or spread rumours for the intention of either harming others, or simply for sinful amusement. They speak about the secrets of other people, and may even add their imagination to the story.

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