Freedom from the illusion of knowledge

Fri, 4 February 1970 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
The Inner Journey
Chapter #:
om in Ajol Meditation Camp
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[Note: This is the final edit of the Hindi translation of Antar Yatra, later published as part of Sadhana Path. This is for reference use only, pending publication.]

My Beloved Ones,

The state of man's mind is like a disturbed hive of honey bees. Thoughts and thoughts and thoughts buzz round and round. Surrounded by these thoughts man lives in anxiety, tension and worry. To recognize and to know life, mind needs to be silent like a lake in which there are no ripples. To be acquainted with life, mind needs to be clear like a mirror on which there is no dust.

We have a mind like a hive of honey bees; it is neither a mirror nor a silent lake. If we think that we will be able to know something with such a mind, that we will be able to attain something, or we will be able to become something, we are making a great mistake.

It is very necessary to become free from this intense flow of thoughts. To have thoughts and thoughts and thoughts buzzing around is not a sign of health, it is a sign of a sick mind. When one's mind is totally pure and clean, when it is healthy, then thoughts disappear. Consciousness remains but thoughts disappear. When mind is sick and unhealthy then consciousness disappears and only the crowd of thoughts remain. We live in that crowd of thoughts. From morning till evening, from evening till morning, from birth till death, we live in a crowd of thoughts.

How can we get free of this crowd of thoughts? We said a few things about this in the morning and some questions have been asked in connection with what I said. I will now answer those questions.

The first thing is that to get free of thoughts is the second step. The first step is not to create a collection of thoughts in the first place. If you go on collecting thoughts on the one hand and try to become free of thoughts on the other hand, how will you manage? If we want to be free from the leaves of a tree and go on giving water to the roots of the tree, then how will we be able to get free from the leaves of the tree? While watering the roots we don't seem to realize that there is some relation between the roots and the leaves - some deep relation. The roots and leaves seem to be separate. But the leaves are not separate from the roots, and the water which is given to the roots goes right up to the leaves.

So we collect many thoughts and water their roots and then, when thoughts make the mind very uneasy and disturbed, we want to find a way to silence them. To stop the tree from growing leaves, we have to stop giving water to its roots. We should understand how we water the roots of our thoughts - if we come to understand this, we can stop it. Then it will not be long before the leaves wither away.

How do we water our thoughts?

For thousands of years man has had the illusion that one can attain knowledge by accumulating other people's thoughts. This is absolutely false and wrong. No man can ever attain to knowledge by accumulating other people's thoughts. Knowledge comes from the inside and thoughts come from the outside. Knowledge is ours, and thoughts are always of the other, always borrowed. Knowledge is the throbbing of your own being, it is an exposure of that which is hidden within yourself. Thoughts are a collection of what others have said - you can collect them from the Gita or from the Koran or from the Bible or from teachers or religious leaders.

Whatever we get from other people does not become our knowledge, it becomes a ways and a means to hide our ignorance. And when a man's ignorance is hidden, he can never attain knowledge.

Because we have the idea that this is our knowledge, we cling to it with our whole being. We cling to our thoughts, we are not courageous enough to drop them. We support them because we think that they are our knowledge and if we lose them we will become ignorant. But remember, howsoever much one may cling to thoughts one does not become knowledgeable through them.

When a man digs a well he first takes out the soil and stones and then water seeps in from the sides of the well and fills it. The water was already there, it did not need to be brought from anywhere else. Only some stones and some layers of soil had to be removed. There were some hindrances, some obstacles; once they were removed the water appeared. It was not necessary to bring water to the well, it was already there - just some hindrances had to be removed.

Knowledge is present inside, it does not have to be got from somewhere else. Its springs are hidden inside; only the obstacles in-between, the stones and the soil, have to be removed by digging - then the springs of knowledge will start appearing.

But one can make a well, and one can make a pond. Making a pond is different. You do not need to look for springs of water to make a pond. The way of making a pond is completely opposite to that of making a well. To make a pond you do not need to dig out stones and soil, you have to bring them from somewhere else and make a wall of them. And when the wall has been built the water does not come by itself, you have to take water from other people's wells and put it in the pond. On the surface a pond gives the illusion of a well. It appears to be a well. You can see water in a pond and you can see water in a well also, but the difference between a pond and a well is the same as the difference between the earth and sky.

The first difference is that a pond has no water of its own. No thirst in this world is quenched by something that is not one's own. Whatever is in a pond is borrowed and soon becomes stale and rotten because - that which is borrowed is not alive, it is dead. The water standing in the pond becomes stagnant, rotten and will soon start stinking.

But a well has its own water source; the water never becomes stagnant. A well has its own flowing water.

Two different processes are happening with a pond and a well. A pond is afraid that somebody will take its water away - because if its water goes, it will become empty. And a well wants someone to take its water so that more fresh water can fill it - fresh and more alive. A well calls out, "Take my water, I want to share it!" And a pond calls out, "Keep away! Don't touch my water, don't take my water!" A pond wants somebody who has water to bring it and pour it into it, so its wealth grows.

But if somebody has a container, the well wants that person to take some of its water so that it can get rid of the water which has become old and get new water. A well wants to share, a pond wants to collect. A well has streams which are connected to the ocean. A well seems to be small, but deep inside it is connected with the infinite. And howsoever big a pond may look, it has no relation to anyone, it ends in itself and is closed. It has no streams. It has no way of connecting with the infinite.

If somebody goes to the pond and talks about the ocean, the pond will laugh and say, "There is no such thing as an ocean. Everything is a pond. There is no ocean anywhere!" A pond has no idea of the ocean.

But if somebody praises the beauty of the well, then the well will think, "What is mine? Everything comes from the ocean. What am I? Whatever comes to me is connected far away with something else." A well cannot have any 'I' of its own - 'I am', but a pond has an ego - 'I am'. And the interesting thing is that a well is very big and a pond is very small. A well has its own wealth but a pond has no wealth of its own.

Man's mind can become a well or a pond - these are the only two possibilities of how man's mind can be. And a person whose mind becomes a pond, slowly, slowly becomes mad.

The minds of all of us have become a pond. We have not created a well, we have created a pond.

We collect things from all over the world - from books, from scriptures, from teachings - we collect all of them and think that we have become learned. We have made the same mistake as the pond.

The pond thought that it was a well - the illusion can be created because water is seen in both of them.

You can find knowledge in a pundit, a teacher, and in a conscious person, but a pundit is a pond and a conscious person is a well. There is a difference between the two. You cannot imagine how basic and how deep this difference is. The knowledge of a pundit is borrowed and stale and rotten.

Whatever troubles have arisen in the world are because of the pundits' knowledge. Whose fight is the fight between Hindus and Mohammedans? It is the fight of scholars. The opposition between a Jaina and a Hindu is the opposition between scholars. It is an opposition of pundits, it is an opposition of minds which are rotten, borrowed and stale.

All the troubles that have happened all over the world are because of minds which have become ponds. Otherwise there are just people in the world - nobody is a Christian, a Hindu, a Mohammedan, a Jaina. These are just the labels of the ponds. The pond puts a label on itself - a label of the well from which it has drawn its water. Someone has drawn water from the Gita so he is a Hindu; someone has drawn water from the Koran so he is a Mohammedan. A conscious person does not take water from others, the water comes from within him, it comes from existence - so he can be neither a Hindu nor a Mohammedan nor a Christian. A conscious person cannot belong to any sect but a pundit cannot be without a sect. Whenever there is a pundit, he will belong to a sect.

We have made our mind a stale, borrowed thing and then we cling to it. As I said - a pond shouts, "Do not take away my water! If the water is gone then I will become empty, there will be nothing left inside me. My wealth is borrowed, so nobody should take it away!"

Remember, the wealth which becomes less by being taken away is always borrowed and false. The wealth which grows by being taken away is true. The wealth which is depleted by sharing is not a wealth at all, it is only an accumulation. Only a wealth which grows more by sharing is really wealth.

The quality of wealth is that it should grow by sharing; if it becomes less by sharing then it is not wealth. And someone who is afraid that their wealth will disappear through sharing must take great care of their wealth.

So all borrowed wealth is a trouble. Because it is never real, fear arises that it will disappear so we cling to it more tightly. We cling tightly to our thoughts. We care for them more than for our lives.

All this garbage which has accumulated in our minds did not get there just by chance - we have arranged it, we have collected it and we are taking care of it.

So if we think that knowledge arises with the accumulation of thoughts then we will never be able to become free from them. How will we be able to become free? It will be like giving water to the roots and then cutting the leaves - it cannot happen. So the first basic thing that has to be understood is that knowledge and a collection of thoughts are two different things. Thoughts acquired or borrowed from others is not knowledge. Thoughts taken from other sources do not lead a man to truth or to himself. This knowledge is false, it is pseudo-knowledge. It creates an illusion that we have attained knowledge but in reality nothing is known. We remain ignorant.

This situation is the same as somebody reading many books about swimming and learning so much about it that if he has to give a discourse on swimming or write a book about it, he can - but if somebody pushes him into a river it becomes obvious that he can't swim! He had read and studied all about it, he knew all the theory - but in practice he could not swim.

There was a Mohammedan fakir called Nasruddin. Once he was crossing a river, sitting in a boat. He and the boatman talked on the way. Nasruddin was considered to be a very knowledgeable person.

If knowledgeable people get a chance to prove somebody ignorant they don't miss it. Nasruddin asked the boatman, "Do you know how to read?"

The boatman said, "No, I know how to speak. I don't know anything about reading and writing."

Nasruddin said, "One fourth of your life has been lost in futility, because if you don't know how to read, how can you attain any knowledge in your life? Idiot! Can anybody attain knowledge without being able to read?" But the boatman started laughing silently.

Then they went a little further and Nasruddin asked, "Do you know anything about mathematics?"

The boatman said, "No, I don't know anything about mathematics at all; I just count on my fingers."

Nasruddin said, "Another fourth of your life has been lost in futility, because one who does not know about mathematics, one who cannot calculate, cannot earn anything in his life. How can he earn?

One should know how to count, then one can earn something. What will you earn? Half of your life has been futile."

Then a storm, a hurricane arose, and the boat turned over and sank. The boatman asked, "Can you swim?"

Nasruddin cried, "No, I can't swim!"

The boatman shouted, "Your whole life is wasted. I am going. I don't know how to do mathematics, nor how to read a language, but I do know how to swim! So I am leaving you! Your whole life has gone to waste!"

In life there are some truths which can be known only by the self, they cannot be known through books or through scriptures. The truth of the soul or the truth of the universe can only be known by the self - there is no other way.

These things are written in the scriptures - we can read them, we can understand them, we can memorize them, we can learn them. We can tell others about them, but no knowledge has been attained.

The accumulation of facts and other people's opinions is not a sign of knowledge, it is only a sign of ignorance. A person who is conscious and awake is free of all this 'knowledge'. There is no question of him collecting any more facts - he knows himself. With that self-knowledge the mind is not a disturbed hive of honey bees, it is a mirror, a lake.

Our mind is a buzzing hive of thoughts which we have been breeding because we think they are knowledge. We have given them space in our house; we have made them residents. We have made our mind a caravanserai: whoever comes can stay there as long as he is wearing the clothes of knowledge - then he has the right to stay. And the crowd in the caravanserai has increased and grown so much that it has become difficult to decide who is the master in this crowd. Those who are the guests make such a noise that the one who shouts the most becomes the master. And we don't know who the real master is.

Each thought shouts loudly that it is the master, so in this crowded caravanserai it has become impossible to know the real master.

No thought wants to leave. How can someone whom we have invited to stay, get out? It is easy to invite a guest but it is not so easy to get rid of him. For thousands of years the guests have been gathering in man's mind and if I ask you to say goodbye to them today, you cannot get rid of them immediately. But if we understand the nature of our illusions then it is possible to get rid of them. We cherish these thoughts because of our illusion that they are knowledge, so the first thing to understand is that all the thoughts learned from others are futile. If this becomes clear to us then we have cut the very root of our collection of thoughts and ideas, we have stopped giving water to the roots.

An old sage was passing through a jungle with one of his young monks. The night descended and it started becoming dark. The old sage asked the young monk, "Son, do you think there is any danger along this path? This is a path through a dense forest and it is becoming dark. Is there anything to be afraid of?"

The young monk was very surprised because the question of being afraid should not arise in a sannyasin. Whether the night is dark or bright, whether it is a forest or a market, for a sannyasin to feel fear is very surprising. And this old man had never been afraid. What had happened today?

Why was he afraid? Something or other was wrong!

Then they went a little further and the night became darker. The old man asked again, "Is there anything to worry about? Will we reach the other town soon? How far is it?" Then they stopped near a well to wash their hands and faces. The old man gave the bag on his shoulder to the young monk and said, "Take care of it."

The young man thought, "Certainly there must be something in the bag, otherwise there would be no question of fear nor of taking care of it."

If a sannyasin even takes care of something it is strange. Then there is no meaning in becoming a sannyasin because one who takes care of things is a family man. What does a sannyasin need to take care of?

The old man started washing his face. The young man put his hand inside the bag and saw a golden brick in the bag. Then he understood the cause of the fear. He threw the brick away in the forest and placed a stone of the same weight inside the bag. The old man came quickly after washing his face, quickly took the bag, touched it, felt the weight, placed his bag on his shoulder and started walking again.

Then after walking for a little while, he said, "It is becoming very dark, have we forgotten the way? Is there any danger?"

The young man said, "Don't be afraid! I have thrown away the fear."

The old sage was shocked. He immediately looked into the bag and saw that, instead of the gold, there was a stone inside. For a moment he stood there stunned, then he started laughing and said, "I was an idiot. I have been carrying a stone yet I was afraid because I thought it was a golden brick."

When he realized that he had been carrying a stone, he threw it away and said to the young monk, "Tonight we will sleep here, because it is difficult to find the way in the dark." That night they slept in the forest peacefully.

If you think your thoughts and ideas are bricks of gold you will take good care of them and remain very attached to them. But I want to say to you that they are not golden bricks, they are just heavy stones. What you think to be knowledge is not knowledge at all, it is not gold, it is absolutely a stone.

The knowledge obtained from others is just a stone. Only the knowledge that comes from within you is gold. The day you see that you are carrying a stone in your bag is the day the matter is over.

Then there will be no difficulty in throwing away the stone.

There is no difficulty in throwing away garbage, but there is difficulty in throwing away gold. As long as you feel that your thoughts are knowledge, you cannot throw them away - and your mind will remain troubled. You may try thousands of ways to calm it but nothing will work because deep down you want the thoughts to remain because you think they are knowledge. The greatest difficulties in life arise from the misunderstanding that we think something is which it is not. Then all kinds of troubles arise. If somebody thinks that a stone is a brick of gold then problems start. If somebody realizes that a stone is a stone, then the matter is over.

So the treasure of our thoughts is not a real treasure - this fact has to be understood. How to understand this? Will you understand by my saying it is so? If you understand by me saying it then this understanding will be a borrowed one, it will be futile. There is no question of your understanding something because I say it - you have to see, search and recognize for yourself.

If the young monk had said to the old man, "Keep walking! There is no need to worry. There is a stone in your bag, not gold!" Still it would not have made any difference to the old man until he saw with his own eyes that this was the case. If the young man had simply told him, he would not have believed it. He would have just laughed at the young man and thought that he was just a boy, he was ignorant, he did not know anything. Or he could have believed him and accepted his words, but his acceptance would have been false - deep inside he would have still held on to the idea of keeping the gold brick safe. But seeing it for himself made the difference.

So it is necessary to look into the bag of your mind and see if what we think is knowledge, is really knowledge, or have we just collected garbage. We have collected the sutras of the Gita, the statements of the Vedas, the words of Mahavir and Buddha and we are continuously remembering them, thinking about them and finding meanings in them. We keep on reading and writing commentaries on them and discussing them with each other.

Absolute madness has been created. Knowledge has no relation to this madness. No flame, no light will arise in your lives from this. And by collecting this garbage, you will create the illusion that you have attained a great wealth of knowledge, that you are a great master, that you have so much, your vault is full - and you will live your life like this and destroy it.

A young monk was staying in a monastery. He had come to sit in the presence of an old sage but within a few days he felt that the old man did not know anything at all. Listening to the same things every day he got fed up. He thought that he should leave this monastery and search somewhere else for another master. This was not the place for him.

But on the day he was to leave, another monk visited the monastery. That night the inmates of the monastery gathered and they talked about many things. The new monk was very knowledgeable about so many things, very subtle and perceptive, very deep and very intense, and the young monk thought that this was how a master should be. Within two hours the new monk had mesmerized everyone. The young monk thought that the old master must be feeling a lot of pain and very depressed that he was so old and yet had not learnt anything, while this newcomer knew so much.

After two hours, when the talks were over, the guest monk looked at the old master and asked, "How did you like my talks?"

The old man said, "My talks? You were talking, but none of it was your own. I was listening very intently for you to say something but you did not say anything at all!"

The guest monk replied, "If it was not me talking then who has been talking for the past two hours?"

The old man said, "If you ask for my truthful and authentic opinion, then books and scriptures were talking from inside you, but you were not talking at all. You did not even say a single word. You were throwing out, vomiting out, whatever you have gathered. And because of your vomiting I became afraid that you are a very sick person. For two hours you went on vomiting whatever was collected in your stomach and you filled the whole room with dirt and stink. I did not smell even a little fragrance of knowledge because anything which is taken in from the outside and again thrown out is certain to have the stink of vomiting. You did not say anything yourself; not a single word was your own."

After listening to the old sage, the young monk who had wanted to leave the monastery decided to stay. That day, for the first time, he came to know that there are different kinds of knowing. One kind of knowing is that which we collect from outside and another kind of knowing is that which arises from within. Whatever we collect from the outside becomes a bondage, it does not liberate us - we are liberated by that which comes from the inside.

So the first thing to look at inside is - do you really know whatever you know? It is necessary to question each thought and each word which you know - do you really know it? And if the answer is, "I do not know it", then all the golden bricks in your life will slowly turn into stones. It is possible to deceive everybody in the world but it is not possible to deceive yourself.

No man can deceive himself. Whatever you do not know, you do not know. If I ask you, "Do you know truth?" and if you nod your head and say, "Yes I do," then you are unauthentic. Ask yourself inside, "Do I know truth or have I just accepted the things which I have heard? And if I do not know then this truth is not worth a single penny. How can something I do not know change my life? Only the truth I know can become a revolution in my life. The truth that I do not know is not worth a penny.

This truth is false, this is not a truth at all; it is all borrowed and it is not going to change anything in my life."

It is like asking you, "Do you know about your soul?" and you answering, "Yes I do, because I have read about it in books, and the priest who teaches in our temple teaches that the soul exists." Man memorizes like a parrot whatever is taught to him, but this memorization has nothing to do with knowing. If you are born in a Hindu family then you become one kind of parrot, if you are born in a Jaina family then you become another kind of parrot, and if you are born in a Mohammedan family then you become a third kind of parrot - but in each situation you become a parrot. Whatever is taught to you, you go on repeating your whole life. And because there are similar parrots around you, nobody objects, nobody argues. These other parrots nod their heads - you are absolutely right - because they have learned the same thing that you have learned. In religious meetings, the religious leaders are teaching and everybody is nodding their heads and agreeing that they are absolutely right - because whatever the religious leaders have learnt, the people have also learnt.

And both groups are sitting there thinking that they have learnt this too and all are nodding their heads agreeing that "Yes! What is being said is absolutely right! The same thing is written in our books also; we have also read the same thing."

The whole of humanity has been deceived about knowledge. This deception is a conspiracy against man. All this knowledge has to be cleaned out and thrown away, only then can you acquire the kind of knowledge in the light of which existence is experienced and the flame of the soul is seen. This is not possible with pseudo-knowledge. Pseudo-knowledge is not light at all - the house is dark, the lamp is unlit, but people are convincing each other and explaining to each other that the lamp is lit.

And after hearing it said again and again we have also started saying that the lamp is lit, because somewhere inside there is fear. Others say that if you do not see the lit lamp then you will go to hell.

They can see the lit lamp, and so slowly, slowly you start seeing it too.

There was once a great king. One morning, a mysterious stranger came and said to him, "You have now conquered the whole earth, so the clothes of human beings do not suit you. I will bring you clothes of the gods." The king's mind got greedy. His intellect was saying, "How can there be clothes of gods?" - the intellect is doubtful even about the existence of gods - but he was greedy because he thought that perhaps there were gods somewhere and if their clothes were brought to him then he would be the first man on the earth in the history of mankind who has worn the clothes of god.

And in what way can this man deceive him? He was a great emperor. He had billions and trillions of rupees just lying around. Even if the man asked for ten or fifty thousand rupees, it wouldn't matter!

He asked the man, "Okay, what will be the cost?"

The man said, "It will cost at least one hundred thousand rupees, because to reach the gods one has to pay a big bribe. Not only men take bribes, the gods are also very clever, they also ask for bribes! And a man will agree to a small amount of money - he is poor - but gods will not agree to a small amount. Only if it is a big pile of money will they look at it, otherwise they cannot even see it.

So it is very difficult, but at least one crore rupees will need to be spent."

The king said, "Alright, there is no problem. But remember, if you deceive me then you will lose your life - and from today onwards there will be armed guards around your house.

One hundred thousand rupees were given to the man and his house was put under guard. All the people of the neighborhood were surprised, amazed! They couldn't believe this. They thought, "Where are the gods and where is their heaven? This man does not seem to be going or coming anywhere." He stayed inside his house and told everybody, "After six months I will show you the clothes of god." Everybody was doubtful but the king was unconcerned because the man was under a guard of naked swords. He could not have escaped, could not have deceived. But the man was much more intelligent than the king. After six months he came out of his house with a very beautiful box and said to the soldiers, "Let us go to the palace. Today is the day! The clothes have arrived!"

The whole capital gathered. Kings and emperors from far away gathered to see. A great celebration was organized. The man had come into the court with the box, so there was no reason for any doubt.

He brought the box and put it down. He opened the lid of the box, put his hand inside, brought out an empty hand and said to the king, "Take this turban!" The king looked and said, "I cannot see any turban, your hand is empty."

Immediately the man said, "Let me remind you of one thing: the gods have said that only a person who is born of his own father will be able to see the turban and the clothes. Now do you see the turban?"

The king said, "Of course I can see it!" There was no turban there, the man's hand was empty - but all the courtiers started clapping. They too could not see the turban, but they all started saying, "We have never seen such a beautiful turban. The turban is very beautiful, unique, wonderful! No man has ever seen such a turban."

When all the courtiers started saying that the turban was very beautiful, the king was in a difficult situation. And then the man said, "So now take off your turban and put this one on!"

The king removed his own turban and put on the turban which did not exist. If it had been only a turban that was involved, it would have been alright, but soon the king was really in trouble. First his coat was removed, then his shirt, and finally the time came when he had to remove his last garment.

The king was now naked but all the courtiers were shouting, "Such beautiful clothes! Wonderful! We have never seen such clothes!" Every courtier had to say it very loudly in case other people might wonder if he was born of his own father or not.

And when the whole crowd was shouting about the clothes, each person thought that either something is wrong with his eyes or until now he has been mistaken about his father. If all the other people are shouting about the clothes they must be right. So many people cannot be wrong; there is such a majority. When everyone says the same thing it must be right. This is democracy - everybody is in agreement. When so many people agree they cannot all be wrong. So each person thought that he alone was wrong and if he remained silent then people will think that he cannot see.

The king became afraid - should he take off the last article of clothing or not? On the one hand he was afraid that the whole court would see him naked and on the other hand he was afraid that if the world came to know that he was not born of his father then there would be many great difficulties - perhaps it is better to be naked. It was a great problem - if he fell on one side there was a well, if he fell on the other side there was a ditch. In the end it seemed better to accept nudity. At least his father was saved, his dynasty was saved. He thought, "The people will see me naked, what else! If everybody is seeing the clothes, then maybe they really can see them and only I am in the wrong - and this will create unnecessary complications." So he dropped the last garment and stood there naked.

Then the man said, "O King! The clothes of gods have descended for the first time on earth. You should have a procession and travel around the city on a chariot." The king became very afraid but now there was no way out.

When man commits a mistake at the first stage, then it becomes very difficult to stop at any later stage - and it becomes very difficult to return. If one is not honest at the first stage then one keeps on getting more and more hypocritical at the next stages; it becomes difficult for him to know where to return from because each stage has become connected with many other stages.

So the king was in difficulty. He could not refuse. He was taken in a procession on a chariot.... Maybe you were also there, because there were many people in that city. Everyone saw the procession so you might also have been there and you might have praised the clothes; nobody would want to miss the chance. All the people were praising the clothes loudly saying they were very beautiful.

Only a child who was in the crowd sitting on his father's shoulders, said, "Father, the king seems to be naked!"

His father said, "Idiot, be silent! You are small, you have no experience. When you become experienced, you will also start seeing the clothes. I can see the clothes."

Children sometimes say the truth, but old people don't give credit to them, because old people have more experience. And experience is a very dangerous thing! Because of his experience the father said, "Be silent! When you become experienced, you will see the clothes. We all can see them - do you think we are mad?"

Sometimes children say, "We cannot see god in a statue."

Then old people say, "Be silent! We can see god. Rama is standing there. When you become experienced, you will also see him."

Man is caught in a universal deception. And when everybody is caught in the same deception, it becomes difficult to see. You have to find out if the clothes of knowledge - which you have thought of as clothes - are really clothes, or are you standing naked in invisible clothes? You have to test each of your thoughts according to this criterion - "Do I know it?" If you do not know, then be ready to go to hell rather than go on holding on to this pseudo-knowledge.

The first condition of authenticity is that whatever one does not know, one should say that he does not know - otherwise it will be the beginning of hypocrisy. Usually we cannot see the big deceptions, we can only see small deceptions. If a man cheats you for a few rupees, you notice it, but if a man stands with folded hands in front of a stone statue and says, "O God! O Lord!" knowing very well that the statue is of stone and there is no god, no lord there, then although this man might seem to be authentic and religious, it is difficult to find a greater deceiver or hypocrite on this earth. He is being absolutely deceptive, he is saying something absolutely false - he is not feeling anything inside him.

But he cannot gather enough courage to understand what he is saying, what he is doing.

A religious person is one who recognizes what he knows and does not know; this recognition is the first step towards becoming a religious person. A religious person is not one who says that he knows god and the soul, that he has seen heaven and hell. A religious person is one who says that he doesn't know anything, that he is absolutely ignorant - "I have no knowledge. I don't even know myself so how can I say that I know existence! I don't even know the stone that is lying in front of my house. How can I say that I know the divine? Life is very mysterious, very unknown. I don't know anything. I am absolutely ignorant."

If you have the courage to be ignorant, and have the courage to accept that you are ignorant, then you can start on the path towards becoming free from the entanglement of your thoughts - otherwise you cannot even begin. So one thing needs to be understood: we are very ignorant, we don't know anything. And whatever we seem to know is absolutely false, borrowed and stale. It is like a pond, it is not like a well. If one wants to create a well in one's life then it is very necessary to be free from the illusion of the pond.

And now a question: Your teachings are very similar to those of J. Krishnamurti. What is your opinion of him?

I have no opinion. The first thing is that I don't know Krishnamurti.

The second point is that if, when I am saying something, you compare it with someone else - who I am like, who I am not like - then you will not be able to listen to me. You will waste time in that comparison. It is absolutely impossible that there would be any similarity between the words of two persons, because two persons are not similar. Two leaves are not similar; two stones are not similar.

There can be a similarity in some words, there may be a superficial similarity in something, but each and every person in the world is so different and so separate that nothing can be exactly similar.

If you start comparing what I am saying with the Gita, or with Krishnamurti, or with Ramakrishna, or with Mahavira, then you will not be able to listen to me because these Ramakrishnas, these Krishnamurtis, these Mahaviras, will create so much trouble in-between that my words will not be able to reach you. There will not be any direct relation between you and me.

So I don't know - but it is my suggestion that there is no need to compare and to find similarities. It is futile, it has no meaning; and nobody is helped by it.

But some common habits have been formed in our lives one of which is the habit of comparison.

We cannot evaluate something without comparing it. If we want to evaluate something we cannot conceive how to do it without comparing. And whenever we compare, the mistake begins.

If we compare a lily flower with a rose flower, then the mistake begins. A lily is a lily, and a rose is a rose, and a grass flower is a grass flower. The rose is neither higher than the grass flower nor lower.

The grass flower lives in its uniqueness; a rose flower lives in its uniqueness. Neither one is lower, or higher; neither one is equal or unequal; everyone is like himself and not like anybody else.

If this individuality of things, their personality, their uniqueness, starts appearing to us then we will stop comparing.

But we have the habit of comparing - we even compare small children with each other. We say, "Look, the other child has gone farther than you. You are left behind." We are being unjust to the child because the other child is the other child and this child is this child! There is no possibility of comparing the two. Their beings are totally different. They are completely different in their uniqueness, in their authenticity; they have no relation to each other.

We have habits of comparing - our educational systems teach comparison, our systems of thought involve comparison. Without comparing we cannot evaluate. And the result is that we do not understand anybody or any thought directly. Many things stand in-between.

So I will say only this much: that I don't know how much similarity or dissimilarity there is between me and J. Krishnamurti, I have not compared. And I request you also not to compare - neither me with somebody else nor anybody with anybody else.

This comparison goes on - how much similarity is there between Mahavira and Buddha, how much similarity is there between Christ and Mohammed, and how much similarity is there between Krishna and Rama. This is all stupid! There is no question of similarity or dissimilarity because everyone is simply himself, he has nothing to do with the other, he has no relation with the other. It is absurd even to say dissimilarity because if there is no similarity then there is no question of dissimilarity.

Everyone is unique, himself. In this world, no two people are alike, no two events are repeated, no two experiences are repeated. There is nothing like repetition in life. Life goes on creating uniqueness continuously. So there is no need to compare or to evaluate. If you are listening to Krishnamurti then you need to understand him directly. If you are listening to me then you need to listen to me directly. If you are listening to your neighbor then you need to listen to him directly. if you are listening to your wife then you need to listen to her directly. If a third person comes in-between, problems and quarrels begin. There is no need of a third person to come in-between, our contact and communication should be direct and immediate.

If I am standing in front of a rose flower and if I remember the flowers that I saw yesterday, and if I start thinking of how much similarity there is between this flower and those flowers, then the observation of this flower will stop. One thing is certain - the shadow of those flowers which come in-between will not let you see this flower. And if I want to see this flower which is in front of me, then I need to forget all those flowers which I have ever seen. To bring them in between will be unjust to this flower. And there is no need to carry the memory of this flower otherwise tomorrow, looking at some other flower, this one may come in-between. So don't bring Krishnamurti here. And don't think that because of listening to me, you can bring me in-between while listening to someone else, because it will be unjust to that person.

See life directly. There is no need to bring anybody in-between. Nobody is equal or unequal.

Everybody is simply like himself, and I would like everybody to become just like himself.

Everybody should be like himself; this is what I see as the fundamental rule of life. But until now we have not been able to accept it. Until now mankind has not been ready to accept each individual as he is. We try to make him become like somebody else. He should become like Mahavira, like Buddha, like Gandhi. This is a direct insult to the individuality of each person. When we say to a person, "Become like Gandhi," we have insulted him greatly because he was born to become a Gandhi. One Gandhi has already been born, what is the use of another one!

To tell this man to become like Gandhi is to say that he has no right to be himself. He only has the right to be a copy of someone else, to imitate someone else. He can only be a carbon copy, he cannot become an original copy. This is an insult to this man.

So I do not say that everybody should become like everybody else. I only say that everybody should become like himself. Then this world can become a wonderful and beautiful world. Until now we have only tried to organize things so that everyone should become like everybody else. That is why we compare, we think, we search. There is no necessity to do this. It is absolutely unnecessary to think in such a way.

If there are any more questions in this context, we will talk about them tonight. Let me repeat again - I have told you only one thing, one very fundamental thing: look at your knowledge and decide if it is your own or someone else's. If you see that it belongs to somebody else then it is futile. But the day you see that you do not have any knowledge of your own, from that very moment the light of your own knowledge begins to arise from within. From that very moment the revolution begins.

If there are any more questions we will talk about them tonight. The afternoon meeting is over.

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"[The world] forgets, in its ignorance and narrowness of heart,
that when we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat,
the subordinate officers of the revolutionary party; when we rise,
there rises also the terrible power of the purse."

(The Jewish State, New York, 1917)