There is a curious dynamic in being human. Once we know, we know.
For example, a DNA test. They can reveal some fascinating detail about your makeup and origins. But what about the genetic markers you have for diseases such as Alzheimers? What about unknown relatives appearing that your ancestors may have hidden? There can be surprises. These are things that once you know, you cannot stop knowing. Good to know but it’s not always easy.
With knowledge comes responsibility. Even in simple things like crossing the street. Children may dart out into traffic. But once they understand the rules of the street, they gain a responsibility to follow them. By the time we’re adults, breaking the laws of the road lead to consequences.
This is both a benefit and a hazard of the spiritual path. Once we know who we are, we can’t fall all the way back into our old way of ignorance. We now have a responsibility to see it through.
Every choice we make has unintended consequences (to us). But if we favour the good and what we know to be right, the path will come out well.
The parable of the Garden of Eden points to a related example. Adam and Eve get cast out of paradise for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They lose their innocence and must now live with the responsibility of right action. (of course, there are several ways the parable can be taken)
We may see this as a growing up. In maturing into our greater potential as beings with the capacity for choice and enlightenment.
“After incarnating through 8,400,000 life-forms, you have obtained this rare human body. Don’t waste it. Each moment of life is very valuable. If you don’t understand the value of this life, you will have nothing in hand, and in the end you will weep.
You are a human being. Therefore you have the power to discriminate between good and bad, and you can accomplish the greatest human goals. Don’t think of yourself as weak or fallen. Whatever has happened in the past, understand that it was done unknowingly. But now be careful. Try to understand the responsibility of human birth and act accordingly. Discern for yourself what is right and what is wrong. Adopt the good and reject the bad.
If, as a human being, you fail to reach God, then you have sold a diamond for the price of spinach.”
— Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath
Now you know. 🙂