Empty (theoretical) knowledge leads to desire
CHAPTER 3: SUTRA 3
HE CONSTANTLY TRIES TO KEEP THEM WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE AND WITHOUT DESIRE; AND WHERE THERE ARE THOSE WHO HAVE KNOWLEDGE TO KEEP THEM FROM PRESUMING TO ACT (ON IT).
WHEN THERE IS THIS ABSTINENCE FROM ACTION GOOD ORDER IS UNIVERSAL.
Those who know, always endeavour to rid people of empty knowledge.
Ordinarily we think that ignorance of knowledge is bad and know edge in itself is good, propitious.
Lao Tzu however does not think this way, nor do the Rishis of the Upanishads or any person on this earth, who has attained the supreme knowledge.
There is a sutra in the Upanishads which says: "The ignorant are led astray in the darkness but the wise ones ramble in deeper darkness." Just to know, is more dangerous than not knowing at all.
The ignorant man is humble for he knows nothing. He who does not know has no basis to create his Ego on. He is also not under the delusion that he knows. So he does not have the vantage of strengthening his ego. It is necessary to understand that nothing strengthens the ego as much as knowledge - neither wealth nor status. The very thought that "I know", fills a man with ego as nothing else does. Therefore it is difficult to find a more egoistic person than a pundit.
Therefore, it has happened many times that he who is filled with the arrogance of learning is willing to beg, he is willing to go hungry or naked, he aspires to no palaces or thrones; if he is revered he is willing to give up everything else. It is easy to renounce wealth, it is easy to renounce status but it is very difficult to renounce knowledge. We can even renounce our family, our dear ones but that which we have known, we cannot part with for that is our very life-breath. If our knowledge is taken away from us, we become empty, bare. It is all our treasure. That is our mind - an accumulation of all that we know. If we do not know anything or if what we know is wiped out, we become empty, blank, void!
I was just going through a Sufi book. It has been published for the first time, though the book is a thousand years old. Many a time it was decided that this book should be published but no publisher was ready to do so; and the reason was, that there was nothing written in that book! It is a book of generation to generation of the Sufis. The history of all those who possessed the book together with their comments after reading it, has also been written. When one guru passed the book on to his successor, his comments were noted down. These have been compiled and now this book has been published.
The publisher refused to publish mere blank 200 pages! He insisted that at least the comments on tb book by various people should be printed in the front pages, So nine pages of printed matter precede the rest of the 200 pages, and these pages have nothing to do with the main book!
The person who brought this book into being, said to his disciple as he handed him the book, "Read this book well for I have written all that is worth knowing, in it." The disciple opened the book and found the pages blank. "But there is nothing in it!" He exclaimed to the Guru. The guru replied, "That means, there is nothing worth knowing. I have included in it, all that is worth knowing and the day you are capable of reading this book, you shall be freed from all books.
Therefore this book is called, "THE BOOK OF BOOKS." When the second disciple was handed the book, he did not even open it! The Guru urged him to open it and read but he replied, "Nothing is ever attained by mere reading, that I know. This book also will reveal nothing." The Guru said, "That is why I handed this book over to you, for this book is of no use to those who read."
The story goes on that this second receiver of the book, did not open the book ever in his whole life!
This is a very difficult thing to do. When he was on his death-bed, he called the disciple he thought fit and handing him the book said, "Remember, I never read this book. My Guru gave it to me for he knew I was not interested in reading but in knowing. Therefore, I too hand this book over to you hoping that you too will endeavour to know and not to read."
The knowledge obtained by reading merely appears as knowledge. It is a deception. It is pseudo- knowledge.
Now this is interesting: People like Lao Tzu who know prevent others from knowing, for they know the easiest path of going astray is gathering information.
It is only in our country that this happening has taken place. Nowhere else in the world is so much known about Truth (Reality) as in our country and nowhere else do people live more in Un-reality as in our country. Nowhere is the information about religion available in such a vast measure. It can be said that all the knowledge of the world put together, is nothing compared to ours. Yet the ease with which we live in ir-religion, is not seen anywhere else. What is the reason? Where have we erred? We should be the most religious people in the world! Rays of Truth should emanate from our very existence and we should be seeing God everywhere. This is not so. We talk a great deal about - God but we are not even remotely acquainted with Him. This is the mistake that Lao Tzu has described: "Knowledge prevents from knowing."
Lao Tzu's disciple Chuang-Tse has said, "If you want to know, beware of knowledge." This statement seems contradictory. Why should one beware of knowing if one wants to know? It should be so if one did not want to know. The reason is, that one who has gained knowledge is deprived of it. Why?
It is because, all information is borrowed. Some Ramakrishna or Ramana says "God is". We hear and believe and we repeat the same. This is information. We have not known. Someone else has known, not we and so it is borrowed. Remember, knowledge cannot be borrowed.
In this world, everything can be borrowed except one, and that is knowledge. All else in this world can be attained from the other except knowledge. This is the difference between knowledge and information. To know comes from one's own self whereas information comes from others. We hear Kabira, Nanak and whatever we hear, becomes information and this gives the illusion of knowledge.
If we keep on repeating what we have heard we in course of this time, forget that this is what we have not known. We then come to feel that we know.
I have heard that there was a court-case against Nasruddin. It was a case of theft. The judge was very strict and with great difficulty Nasruddin's lawyer was able to save him. As they were coming out of the court, his lawyer asked him: "Tell me truly Nasruddin, did you steal or no?" Nasruddin said, "Hearing you over months, I was beginning to be convinced myself that I had committed the theft. So now I also doubt very much whether I did steal or no."
A thing heard repeatedly over a period of time causes difficulty - more so when you repeat it yourself.
From childhood you begin repeating "God is, God is". It penetrates your very bones, mixes with your blood and echoes through every pore of the body. Long before your intelligence developed, you have known that God is. This repetition becomes so pronounced that you cannot remember a single moment when you could have questioned whether God is! It seems I always knew that God is. Now this information is suicidal.
When we already know that God is, why should we set out in search of Him? Why should I endeavour for that which I already know? This is why our whole country has turned non-spiritual while talking about spiritual knowledge all the time. If this country is to be made spiritual again, we shall have to rid ourselves of all the religious scriptures. Once we are freed from our knowledge, we can start afresh on our search.
Lao Tzu says, "Those who know, save others from knowledge." One reason for this is because knowledge is always borrowed. Lao Tzu is not referring here to the knowledge that springs from within.
If you understand this clearly, you will find there is a great difference between the two. That which is born within, that which is one's own, that is less of knowledge and more of knowing. In fact, the knowledge that manifests within, does not get collected like knowledge but develops as the ability to know. That which is attained from without accumulation and forms a collection within. You are apart and your pile of knowledge is apart. Now this heap of knowledge is entirely outside of you. It does not even touch you. You stand apart.
For example: Supposing you are standing in your room. Now if we were to fill this room completely with coins, so much so that you are lost within it, yet you will not become a part of this wealth. You are still apart from it and with one stroke you can step out of it. Even when you are not out of it, you are outside of it. One type of knowledge gathers round us just in this way - it comes from without and accumulates round and round us but never goes within.
Whatever comes from without gathers like dust around us or like clothes; and what is born within us never accumulates but develops as our consciousness. It is more knowing and less knowledge.
It becomes your consciousness. It is not that you know more but that you have the ability to know more. Nanak and Buddha, Kabir and Lao Tzu were not people who knew more. Any one of you could beat them in examinations, for their information is less. But their ability to know is so great that if you and he set out to know about a particular thing, you will never know as much as he comes to know. If even a stone is placed before him, he will know God through the stone whereas you will not be able to know even the stone in its entirety. It is possible you know more about the stone but you will have no deeper knowledge of it. Information is superficial whereas knowledge is deep-rooted.
Remember, if there is knowledge all a round you, you will remain acquainted with things. Bertrand Russell has differentiated knowledge into two parts in much the same way. One he calls acquaintance and the other he calls knowledge.
That which is mere acquaintance gathers around us and that which is knowledge does not gather around us but it transforms us. There is no difference between knowledge and the knower, whereas there is a definite distance between acquaintance and the acquainted.
Lao Tzu says, "One who knows will save others from knowing." They will save them from knowledge so that some day they too may enter the world where the happening of 'knowing' takes place. It is therefore, that all sages have laid more stress on meditation and not on knowledge. Meditation increases the ability to know whereas acquaintance increases information. Please understand this difference between acquaintance and knowledge.
Mahavira has said "The day the Supreme Knowledge dawns, there is neither the knower, nor the known, nor the information of both." There is pure knowledge alone that remains - the 'knowing'.
Neither the knower remains behind nor is there anything further to know - only pure reason remains.
It is just like a mirror without any reflection for there is nothing in front of it. The mirror is there but then it is just a mirror. It would be better to say there is only 'mirroring' for no reflection is there but still the mirror is.
Mahavira says, "When actually the manifestation of intrinsic knowledge takes place in its fullness, the person becomes just a power capable of knowing." The acquaintance does not remain; and remember where information finishes, the one who was informed finishes also. So it is well to take the rest of Lao Tzu's sutra into consideration: that the acquaintance strengthens the knower whereas knowledge destroys the knower. This is the difference between the two. The more you gather knowledge, the more will your Ego be crystallized. Then the way you walk, the way you talk will betray the fact that there is a certain point within you where the Ego who says 'I know', is forever present.
Now just the opposite happens when knowledge dawns on a person. When the manifestation takes place within and the power to know is born, a very interesting thing happens. The Ego (1) begins to get dimmer and dimmer till it ultimately fades. When it fades completely, that happening takes place which Mahavira calls 'Pure knowledge'.
This is the only difference between a sage and a learned man.
Confucius went to Lao Tzu and asked him for a message by which he could settle his life. Lao Tzu said, "He who tries to settle his life with the knowledge of others, goes astray. I shall not be the one to lead you off the right path." Now Confucius was a genius among geniuses and he was one of those who knew a great deal. He said, "I have come a long way. Please give me some knowledge."
Lao Tzu replied, "We over here indulge in snatching away all knowledge, we do not commit the crime of giving it. This seems difficult to us."
Verily, in spiritual life, the Guru does the work of snatching all knowledge. He sweeps away all your information. He first makes you ignorant so that you can be lead towards knowledge. He first relieves you of all your information and places you exactly where your sheer ignorance stands. Do we really know? Let us ask ourselves honestly - do we really know God? But we keep repeating we do! Not only that, we fight over it, argue over it, wage wars to prove whether He is or He is not. Do we really know whether the soul exists? Yet we discuss the atman all day.
Not only the ordinary man, even the politician, says it is his atman that speaks! He says he hears the inner-voice. There are meaningless words. Have you ever felt the atman within your chest?
Have you felt it or come in contact with it? Not a ray of the atman has ever reached you, yet you talk continuously about it. So the Guru will wipe away, hack away all this acquired knowledge from each and every place and make you stand exactly where you are. The journey only can begin from where you are and not from where you think you are.
If I have to set out for a place and I am sitting in this room. I shall have to start from this very room.
But if I keep thinking I am sitting in the skies, I may keep thinking but the journey will never start from there. The first step of the journey is to be taken from where I actually am and not from where I think I am. If I insist on starting from where I think I am, I shall make no beginning at all!
Therefore it is said that first the Guru snatches away the knowledge and makes the disciple ignorant.
This is a very great happening - where a man reaches a place from where he can say in all honesty that he is ignorant, that he does not know, that he knows nothing whatsoever! If a person in all truthfulness, exposes this truth before himself, he stands on the first step of the Temple of Knowledge.
Therefore Lao Tzu says that the sage who knows gives no knowledge to people; rather, he snatches away all that they know. Therefore, the real Guru does not appear likeable. You approach a Guru also with a view to get something; whereas the real Guru snatches whatsoever you possess! You go to hear him so that you can go back with material for discussion. You will bring back some information only to derive the pleasure of being a Guru to others. You can stand with pride before others and flout your knowledge before those who do not know. That is why a real Guru seems unpalatable for he is out to cut you from every side. He shakes the very roots of what you know.
Therefore, we are very much afraid to go before a real Guru for you know he will strip you naked.
He will remove your garments one by one and throw it away and make you stand where you are.
It is very painful to stand where you are. The Guru knows this and also that it is distasteful and disgusting to know that you know nothing. But he also knows that without experiencing and knowing this, no steps can be taken in the direction of the world of knowledge. Hence what Lao Tzu says is correct. Lao Tzu's book did not circulate well enough and his words did not spread wide. Why?
Because who is willing to be ignorant? We are all prepared to be learned. Our schools and universities, our priests and purohits, our mahatmas and sadhus are all distributing knowledge.
And the fun of the thing is, the more this knowledge spreads, the more ignorance increases. There is definitely something wrong behind this knowledge. And because of this knowledge, Lao Tzu is very difficult to follow.
Together with this, the sage endeavours to free him from empty knowledge and desires. We hear our Sadhus and Saints talking of freedom from desires. So this does not seem anything new. But even in these words of Lao Tzu, there is something new. Lao Tzu says, "desires not of the mundane world alone"; the desire for beatitude is also a desire.
Therefore the sage tries to make people desireless. The common-place Sadhu would say, "The wise strive to free men of worldly desires." They make it a point to add the adjective worldly. This means there are unworldly desires also. Verily if beatitude is to be attained, God is to be realised and freedom from birth and death is desired, then these are non-worldly desires.
If you are to understand Lao Tzu, you will have to understand this that Lao Tzu says, "All desires are worldly." There are no worldly desires as such. To be desiring is to be in the mundane world. There are no desires through which a man can be liberated. Therefore Lao Tzu says, "Desire is bondage."
The quality of the desire makes no difference.
When you desire wealth, what happens within you? Let us investigate the mechanism of this happening. The desire is here and now but the wealth is not here and now. It will be sometime in future. It can be tomorrow, the day after in a future date. I am here and now and the wealth is in distant future. Now this my being here and now, will be stretched and pulled because of my desire for that which can be in the future. The farther the cherished goal. the greater will be the tension.
If the wealth is attained after one year, the tension will remain for one year. My mind will have to spread out in this period of one year and keep touching and grasping this wealth in dreams.
This is the meaning of desire.
Beatitude is yet further away. So is God. If I want to attain God, one birth does not seem to be enough. I shall have to wait for many births and then I shall have to spread mv hand of desire right into these births if I wish to attain God. I shall stretch and strain myself for the purpose. Desire means the process of tension.
Lao Tzu says in this invaluable sutra. "The sage frees people of desires." It means, the sage relieves them from their tensions. The wise man says, "Live in the present, here and now." Forget tomorrow.
Forget the wealth of tomorrow, the religion of tomorrow, the Paramatman of tomorrow for if you have anything in the morrow, desire remains. Then you will be tense and if you are tense and the desire remains, you will be in bondage - restless troubled, distressed. Lao Tzu says, "Forget the very desire to desire." He does not qualify the desires. If you read the ordinary scriptures you will find desires qualified into good and bad. You are exhorted to leave the bad and fill yourself with the good.
You are told to leave worldly desires and invite the desires for the other world; leave all desires to attain in this world - nothing can be attained here. If anything is worth desiring, it is in the other world.
All these people dole out such talks and give very interesting arguments in their favour. They say, "whatever you get here in this world is momentary, and what we are offering you is eternal." This is an interesting temptation. This is to excite greed. They say that you are fools to run after wealth, we are wise for we run after religion. And if you attain wealth you will lose it also, whereas, no one can snatch our religion from us.
The difference between these two types of Sadhus, is the difference of cunning, the difference of desire of the lesser Sadhu. This man who talks of the desires of the other world, is more cunning, more calculating. He says, "What will you do with the women of this world? Their beauty is today but it will not be tomorrow. Attain the APSARAS (celestial women) whose beauty is everlasting. The happiness of this world is very momentary - like a bubble on water. The moment you touch it, it is no more. We show you a way to eternal happiness."
This man who speaks is ridden with desire, and he who follows him will also follows him for desire.
Lao Tzu says, "Unconditional freedom from desire." It is not a question of which desire but freedom from desire itself. No demands for tomorrow but life for today. Tomorrow is unreliable, Life is today.
No dreams spread out in the future but one should be present in this very moment. To be desireless, is to be present in the present. To be desireless, this moment is enough. I shall not step out of this moment. I shall live with what is. If there is happiness, I shall live with happiness, if there is pain, I shall live with pain. If there is darkness or light, day or night, I shall stay with whatever is - this moment. I shall not lose myself in dreams beyond this moment. This means, to live with Reality, to live with the Truth, to live in the Fact that is.
Lao Tzu says: "They free us from desires, those who know." They do not offer temptations of new desires. They do not say - "Leave this desire and catch hold of that", for how will this make a difference? But this is difficult for us to do. When someone says, "Leave wealth and catch hold of religion," we find this also difficult; but at least this person offers something in return! The goods are changed but the fist remains clenched. We have caught hold of wealth and he says leave wealth.
This is not difficult to understand. Even the most foolish person comes to realise one day, the futility of wealth. If we fail to understand this fact, it is purely because we do not have enough yet. If we do not have wealth, it is all the more difficult to understand its uselessness. Only when its excess reveals its futility, does one realise it was useless striving for; then we realize that we should set out again in some other direction.
Then if a person comes along who incites fresh cravings within you and says, "Leave wealth, aspire for religion", you promptly leave wealth and run after religion - the fist remains intact! Remember, not much intelligence is required to understand the futility of wealth but a great deal of intelligence is required to understand the worthlessness of religion. I have said that the stupidest man can realise the uselessness of wealth one day but the most intelligent of people cannot understand that religion also is useless. Actually, that which we hold in our grasp, is useless for whatever we hold on to, we b come slaves thereof. Then the clinging, the hanging on to it. is the clenching of the fist and from there the slavery starts.
When you have a hold on something, you feel you are the owner. You feel it is in your grasp and so in your sole possession. But you do not know how gradually it begins to have a hold on you. Now this thing can exist without your hand but you cannot exist without it. If you let go of wealth, it is not affected at all but if someone snatches it away from you, you will find it impossible to live without it.
Then who is the slave? Whatever we grasp within our fist, we accept the bondage thereof.
And that which we hope to attain tomorrow, destroys our today. And the irony is, that when we attain it tomorrow, we shall not be present to enjoy it. Our continuous habit of living in the morrow deprives us of the enjoyment of today. When the morrow arrives, it turns into today and you have never had the experience of knowing today. You have never lived in the present day. You live continuously in the future. As soon as the future becomes the present, it becomes useless for you. Your mind pushes forward to the next day.
Now this is interesting: Whenever tomorrow comes. it becomes today and you will become oblivious of it. So it is possible that you have waited for a thing for years, longed for it, prayed for it and when it ultimately comes, you are not there! For the influence of the mind that has prayed for years will, out of sheer habit keep you desiring in the future only. It will promptly begin a new demand for the morrow.
We do this everyday.
It is just as if a man has defective eyes that can see things only in the distance and not close by. He sees a diamond and runs for it but alas, as he approaches the diamond, it begins to fade away from his sight so that when he stands near it, he cannot see it!
Little does this man realise that this has happened whenever he has sighted a diamond. He will run again at the sight of a shining object and he will thus run all his life and it will never occur to him that his eye-sight is fixed - they see at a distance of - say 50 feet. Within 50 feet he is blind. These 50 feet are his blind-spot.
We all live within our blind-spot. Our todays are all in darkness and the morrows are lighted up.
Tomorrow, that is yet not, looks bright and shining. You can do nothing about it except think of its brightness. You can only dream about it. Nothing can be done in tomorrow for tomorrow does not exist. Whatever is to be done can be done today but you are not present in today. Nothing can be done in tomorrow but you are always present there. So life becomes empty. It is therefore that each one of us feels life to be emptiness, there is no fulfillment anywhere. Whatever is attained turns out to be useless, whatever is discovered loses its worthiness.
Lao Tzu says, "The sage relieves you of all desires." He does not say, "Be free from desires," for if a sage tells you so, you will at once ask, "Why? for what?" Then the sage will have to tell you, "For liberation, for eternal bliss, for God, for heaven" - and a new web of desires starts. Whoever tells you to be free from desires, gives rise to fresh desires within you. Lao Tzu says no such thing. He only explains what a desire is. He says unto you, "This is the wall. If you try to pass through it, you will break your head." He points out the fact. He does not say, "Do not break your head," for you will ask "Why should I not?" He does not say, "Do not try to go through it," for you will again question, "Why not? Is there any other way?"
Remember, he gives you no positive desire. He does not say, "... therefore do not do this." He merely says, "If you do this, this happens."
Buddha had an excellent method of reasoning. He always said, "Do this and this follows." If anyone asked him, "What should we do?" He would reply, "Do not ask me that. You tell me what vou want to do. Then I shall tell you what will follow. More than this, I will not say." He says he does not advise what is to be done. All he can say is, "If you try to pass through the wall, you will break your head.
If you pass through the door, you will pass easily. It is up to you - go through the wall or go through the door, it is entirely your wish." You understand the difference?
One way is to tell you clearly - do this. But whenever you are told positively thus, you will at once ask "Why?" Therefore the thinking of Lao Tzu, Buddha or Mahavira, in a profound sense, is negative.
They say, "Do this and this follows. If you fall into desires, pain follows." They do not say, "Do not fall into desires and you will be happy;" for if they do, you will say, "Alright we want happiness, show us how to attain it." Now a new desire starts. This is rather subtle and should be properly understood.
It is therefore, that Buddha never raised the topic of Paramatman or Liberation. Lao Tzu too never talked of God. Therefore when his book first reached the West, people questioned whether it was a religious book, for it contained no topic on heaven and hell or God or of good and bad actions. What is this man talking about? When people asked Buddha, "Does God exist?" He remained quiet. He would say, "Ask only if the world is." When he was asked, "What happens in liberation?" He simply kept quiet. Buddha had thirteen questions prepared, which he forbade anyone from asking. When he entered a village, a drummer announced his arrival and also that no one was to ask these 13 questions for they would not be answered.
Buddha's opponents spread the rumour that he could not answer these questions. They challenged him to answer these questions if he could or to declare his inability to do so. You can imagine Buddha's predicament.
This has been the predicament of the sage always in this world.
Buddha knows but he does not want to answer. He does not even say he knows for if he says he knows, people would press him for an answer. Buddha says, "I remain silent, I do not answer for if I tell you that I know, that even will arouse desires within you. Then you will want to know what I know." Buddha never spoke about the open skies. He only spoke about the various chains that bind a person and the reason for their doing so. "You are tied in chains," says Buddha, "Land I give you expositions on the open skies! Then you will remain content in your bondage and dream of the free skies above. These dreams will then become a hindrance rather than a help to break your chains."
Then there is also the fear of the person becoming so engrossed in the dream that he fails to see the prison that holds him. Yet another possibility is that he might become so excited and restless to break the chains that he will not have the calm and serenity required to shake off the bondage!
Buddha says, "Ask me not about the skies, I know your hands are tied with a thousand chains. I know why they are and also how they can be broken. I do not even tell you why you should break them. If you want to break them. this is the path, this is the method."
Lao Tzu says, "The sage frees you of your desires." They do not tell you to be rid of your desires; rather they endeavour to free you of your desires. This doing is of two kinds: One is, they lay open the very structure of desires. The other is, they themselves lead a desire-free life. I told you about Confucius returning disappointed from Lao Tzu. Lao Tzu accompanied him up to his door. He saw him looking sad and said he was not happy to see him sad. Confucius replied, "That I was bound to be for I had come to hear your wise counsel." Lao Tzu said, "Turn round and have a good look at me once again. If that becomes a counsel, you will not have returned empty-handed."
People like Buddha and Lao Tzu are living lessons in life.
Confucius looked back but it seems he did not get any message for he told his disciples later on, "His talks went right over my head. The man is unique - he is a veritable lion. One is afraid to stand before him! Yet I could not understand anything. When I pressed him too much, he simply said, "Look at me!" It does not seem that Confucius understood him for one must have eyes to see.
Confucius had come filled with the desire of attaining knowledge whereas Lao Tzu was present, here and now. Confucius' eyes were in the future. He was looking forward to attain something that would open the door to salvation and bliss - some treasures of experience; whereas the man who stood before him, was present there in his sheer Presence. Confucius failed to notice him for his eyes were elsewhere. He had come with the desire to gain something from him which would be useful in the future. Therefore it is not possible that he saw Lao Tzu for what he was.
We also miss. It is not that Confucius alone missed. We fail to see many times.
If you were to pass by Buddha, or Lao-Tu or Mahavira, there is one in a million chance that you become aware of their presence.
Bahauddin was a Sufi fakir. The richest man of the town visited him every day and addressed him thus: "You are the sun on earth. Darkness flees at the sight of you!" or "You are as cool as the moon. You are nectar itself." Bahauddin would laugh every time he said such things. One day when that man left, one of his disciples told him, "Master, this is strange behaviour on your part! This man reveres you so much and you answer him with a scoffing laugh as if he had said something wrong!"
Bahauddin caught hold of the disciple's hand and said, "Come with me." They went to the shop of the man in question. Bahauddin had only changed his cap. Otherwise he was in the same attire.
They bought something from his shop and returned. On the way Bahauddin told his disciple, "Did you see? It never occurred to him that I am the sun!" They had talked to the man for fifteen minutes, he himself had attended on them and even cheated them! The disciple said, "He may have been too busy. He must have forgotten." The next day they went again and thus they went for a full year!
Now Bahauddin was what he was but the shopkeeper did not recognise him and this went on for dragged his disciple along with him and all these 365 days the man would visit Bahauddin in the evenings and pay his respects. After 365 days, one day when he came thus, Bahauddin said, "Stop this nonsensical talk! For 365 days I came to you and you could not see even a small lamp in me what to say of the sun? You are a downright liar! All you are concerned with, is to be known as a devotee of a great saint."
If you meet Mahavira with a label on him, you will bow with respect for you met a Tirthankar! If he has no label you will inform the police that a man was going about naked in the streets of Bombay!
Some time ago some sannyasins had gathered here. There is one sannyasin of mine who likes to go about naked. I warned him not to go about naked in Bombay so he poor man began to go about in a loin cloth! He came to Woodlands and I received complaints! One person came and said that this was not in keeping with the dignity of this place that a man should go about in a loin cloth - and he was a Digambar Jain himself who complained thus!
I asked him, if Mahavira were to come to Woodlands what would we do? This poor man has at least a loin cloth on. He said the case of Mahavira was different. "How will you recognise him?" I asked, "Will he have a label on him? And how many people recognised Mahavira in his own times?"
Many a time we pass by him but alas. our eyes are fixed elsewhere! We cannot see what is near us and it often happens, we do not see a thing just because it is too close to us. Lao Tzu says, "The sage frees you from desire so that you can see that which is closer than the closest, that which is Paramatman." Lao Tzu does not say there is no liberation. He says you cannot desire liberation.
Lao Tzu does not say there is no God. He says you cannot desire God. When there is no desire, when all desires are extinct, then what remains, is God.
Buddha too, does not say there is no salvation. He says only this - do not desire. Desire nothing, not even salvation - then you are in beatitude! Understand this difference.
You cannot make beatitude an object of your desire, it cannot be the fulcrum of your ambition, it cannot be the target of your aspirations. No, only when you let go all bows and arrows you find that you are standing within beatitude. In fact, you are always in beatitude but because of your desires you have been wandering afar. Desires drive you astray whereas beatitude is here. God is here very close to us, desires are far away. Therefore God and desire never meet. Desire is away, God is close by; desire is in the future, God is in the present; desires are for the morrow God is for today.
Therefore Lao Tzu says, "They liberate you from knowledge and desires."
And where there are people who are filled with sheer blank knowledge, they try to prevent them as much as possible from putting such knowledge into use. Generally, people are filled with such knowledge so they try their best to dissuade them from using this knowledge. This seems strange.
The common sadhu and saint always exhorts people to practise what they preach. After his discourse, the Sadhu invariably says, "Do not leave behind here what I have told you. Keep it carefully with you and act accordingly." He presses them to take a vow that they would. And here is Lao Tzu who says, "The sage takes care that the Sadhaka does not stray into knowledge. He tries to save him from acting according to his information." For all information is borrowed. It is like a bird trying to fly with borrowed wings.
It is very interesting to note that information has to be inculcated in one's conduct whereas knowledge becomes ones natural behaviour. Understand the difference.
Knowledge has not to be inculcated in one's demeanour. The moment knowledge is attained it pervades into all our actions It has not to be practised. If knowledge has to be practised, it is not worth a penny. Now I know if I put my hand in fire, it will burn. If this is only information, I shall have to make an effort lest my hand goes into the fire. Now, if this is my knowledge that the hand burns if put into fire. will I have to make an effort to stop the hand from going into the fire? No I shall have to make no effort. The hand will not go into the fire; I will not have even to think about it. The matter ends here. There shall be no meeting between fire and me.
I know that poison kills a man. Do I then have to go to a temple and take a vow that I shall never drink poison? If you hear a man making such a vow, what will you think of him? You will say this man is afraid, he might drink poison sometime or the other. He does not know anything for if he did, his vows were useless.
All those who make vows of austerity that they will not do this and they will not do that are people who are acting on information. Someone tells them, anger is bad so they try to curb anger. Someone says desires are bad so they curb their desires.
Lao Tzu says, "The sage tries as much as is in his power to refrain people from acting on information." They can only tell them as much as is in their power. There is no way to force anyone.
They can only point at the pit and warn you that you will fall. But he who vows to act on information gradually becomes a false person and a moment comes when his actions so engulf him that he completely forgets they are false.
If a man has decided that anger is bad after reading and hearing others and not by knowing himself, his personality will be a false one.
One has not to decide that anger is bad by learning about it. He who knows anger is bad, steps out of it. That which you know as poisonous, you remain away from. So what would a sage say? He will say, "Be angry and know that anger is bad." Make no inferences from the Scriptures. The sage does not say the Shastras are wrong. Those who have known, have written the shastras but when those who have not, read them and get acquainted with that knowledge and begin to act on them, things go wrong.
The sage will always say, "Know the facts, live through them and recognise them." Then whatever is bad, will fall off and whatever is good will persist. The ignorant Sadhu urges people to shun the evil and embrace the good. The sage says, "Know what is good and what is evil." Then what remains, after knowing, know that as good and what drops off, know that as evil. That is evil which remains in acquired knowledge and which falls on knowing. Good is that which has to be brought in by effort in acquired knowledge and which comes on its own when the knowing occurs. It follows knowledge like a shadow.
If you have ever known, you will understand me. The trouble is we have never known anything, we have simply heard.
Is it not wonderful that a man in fifty years of his life-time loses his temper thousands of times, yet he does not know what anger is? He reads a book which says anger is evil, and vows not to be angry. After being angry thousands of times, this man knows not what anger is. Then will he know it simply by reading a few words? Then it would be a miracle!
A thousand times I visit a house of ill-fame and know not it was bad to do so. Then by reading a book will I come to know it is wrong to go into this house and vow that I shall not? The vow betrays that as yet I have a mind to go there. Against whom do we take an oath? Who tells us to be angry?
No one. So it is against our own selves that we take vows. No one tells us to be angry. On the other hand, all the world preaches - 'Leave anger!' Nor are we taught in our schools and colleges, the art of losing temper. Yet we go on being angry in spite of the fact that all are temples and churches and Gurudwaras preach against anger.
I have heard that as a priest was once giving a discourse in the church on kindness and amiability, a fly came and sat on his nose. "For example" he said, "This fly that is sitting on my nose, is no enemy of mine. I have no ill will towards it so I do not even show it away. It too, was created by God! It is one of His beautiful creations." Then suddenly he realised it was a bee and not a fly and he shook it off in horror! He forgot that even the bee is God's creation!
Everywhere we are counselled - do not be angry, do not do this, do not do that, and we keep on doing exactly those very things. Then whom shall we vow against? No vow can stand against you.
Remember it is the weaker part of you that takes the oath. As soon as you take a vow, you split yourself into two, and the vowing part of you is the minor part, which is weak.
The stronger part requires no vows to work. Do you have to vow to keep on being angry? Do you have to vow that you shall not get up early in the morning? The major part of you works without your vows and this part of you is 90 It is said that a Christian fakir followed the ten commandments very regularly. A man slapped him on one cheek, he gave him the other, for that is what Jesus has said you should do. Now the other fellow was also very persistent. He slapped him on the other cheek also. Now Jesus has only said, "Offer your other cheek" meaning thereby that the assailant would feel humbled and fall on his feet.
He has made no provision for this kind of a situation! Now the poor fakir did not know what to do?
Since there was no saying of Jesus he could go by, the fakir lifted his hand and dealt a blow on the other person. His adversary reminded him, "Have you forgotten all about Jesus?" "No I have not,"
said the fakir, "but Jesus has spoken about one cheek only. There are no instructions about the third for there is no third cheek. So I used my own commonsense which said I should strike back in return."
This commonsense was present when the first two slaps were given and that is the authentic sense of the man. It is this sense that will stand by his stead in his time of need. But words that we hear, stick within the mind. Then we make these words form the pivot of all our actions so much so, that we even swear by them.
Lao Tzu says. "It is therefore that the saint restrains them from acting on their information." They say, "Do not go by your acquired information. Attain knowledge, actions will then follow."
When this state of Non-Action is attained, then the good order that comes into being, is universal.
Knowledge is Non-active. It is not an act but a condition - a splendid lustrous, condition. All is filled with light and everything becomes perfectly clear. The darkness has disappeared and there is no smoke in the eyes. The vision now is pure. This is a condition that involves no action. Now no action is required by the saint to conduct himself for his conduct requires no calculated action. Now the illumined state he is in, will decide all his actions. Henceforth his feet will walk only towards the temple - now the feet have not to be brought back from the house of ill-fame.
I have heard that once Nasruddin took a vow never to step into a tavern. He was a strong-willed man. In the evening he went out. The tavern was before him. He shut his eyes and walked away as fast as h could. He must have gone about fifty steps when he stopped and opened his eyes. He was surprised at himself! "Well-done Nasruddin" He said to himself. "What a man of iron resolve you are! You left the pub, fifty steps behind! Come now, I shall stand you a drink," and he turned his steps back to the tavern and celebrated his victory.
Now the difference is, he is now giving a drink to Nasruddin. This is all rationalisation. Now he does not say, "I am drinking" or that "I have broken my vow". The vow is fulfilled when he walked away fifty steps. Now then he who has performed this feat, should he not be felicitated?
Knowledge is non-active, it is absolutely serene - not a wave of action - like a river that is still.
Absolutely void - such is the state of a man of knowledge.
Says Lao Tzu, "When such a state of non-action is attained then the order that forms is universal."
Then it is beyond censure and beyond contradiction.
There are three things to be known: One is that knowledge is a state of no-action where the question is not so much of doing as of knowing. It is not a question of doing but of being. The question is not of doing something to attain knowledge. The question is: How should I be so that knowledge reveals itself? In what state should I be so that the vision becomes straight and clear, pure and unaffected?
The question is not of doing something - like giving up theft or deceit. No, it is not a question of leaving something and catching something. Rather, How should I look at life? Vision is all important.
I should not worry about acquired knowledge rather, I should keep away from it. I should accept my ignorance, I should experience life, today now. I should live in total awareness here and now.
Then that non-active state begins to form where a person becomes like a silent pool. And in this moment of serenity all disorder falls of its own. All that was wrong, drops by itself. No effort is required to be rid of it. All that was impure in life, we suddenly find it is non-existent, as if a lamp is lighted and the darkness has flown away. Darkness has not to be pushed out. Light a lamp and darkness is no more. This order is something quite different.
There is one order of things that is cultivated. We can teach a monkey to sit still by the use of a stick.
He can sit still like Buddha in padmasans and if the stick is kept before him, he will sit thus for hours.
This will not make a Buddha out of him. Many people sit thus in padmasana and nothing happens within them. The fear of the stick - some bell, some sin or death, some illness some anxiety - surrounds them from everywhere.
Someone asked Nasruddin, "Do you pray before you sleep at night?" Nasruddin said, "I pray regularly, I never miss my prayers at night." "Do you pray in the morning also?" He was asked, "No" he replied, "Where is the need? I am scared of darkness, so I pray. Where is the necessity to pray in the morning?"
You are afraid and prayer is born. The stick is before you - you sit in padmasana, the eyes close automatically and the beads of the mala (rosary) begin to slip one after the other! Thus are born our prayers and worships - all out of fear.
Tamer the Lame once sent for Nasruddin. Tamer was a very dangerous man. He had heard of Nasruddin's fame - that he was a wise man and only one of his kind. Wise men are always a little strange for each is moulded in his own set pattern. "I have heard you are a very wise man," Said Tamer to Nasruddin. The Mulla looked at him - there he sat with a naked sword in his hand. "If I say 'Yes', what will you do?" He asked Tamer. "And if I say 'No', what then? I must first make sure."
Nasruddin told him.
"What will I do?" Tamer shouted, "Everyone says you are wise. Are you or are you not? If you are not why have you not denied this so far? I shall have your head cut off! If you are, say so." Nasruddin said, "Yes, I am". He thought it was better than being beheaded. "What proof is there, that you are wise?" Tamer asked.
Nasruddin looked down very solemnly and said, "I can see right down into Hell." Then he lifted his face up to the skies and said, "I can see all the seven heavens." "What is the secret that reveals the heavens and hell?" Asked Tamer, Nasruddin replied, "Only fear. There is neither heaven nor hell that I can see. It is the sight of your naked sword that brings them before my eyes. That is the basis of all my wisdom. Put your sword away and talk man to man or else, I am ready to perform any miracle you say. Who likes to lose his life?"
Fear makes you do a lot of things. All your life is filled with fear. The order that comes into being through fear is no order, for the volcano keeps rumbling within.
People like Lao Tzu speak of a different quality of order. There is quite another rule, another law of life, that does not come by any arrangement; it cannot be implanted. It is not born out of fear or desire, nor is it caused by any enticement. Rather, it happens on its own by the light that illumines the state of no-action. And when this state comes into being, it is universal. Universal means, that this order, this rule, cannot be broken under any conditions. There are no exceptions to it. It is present in every condition.
As the water of the ocean is salty, no matter from where you taste it, so the sage whose life is endowed with knowledge, can be 'tasted' from any side. Whether asleep or awake, in whatever condition he is tried or tested, he is universal. His order is eternal. There is never a slip, never a mistake in his rules, for here are no rules. Understand this well.
You might be thinking that his laws are so strong that there cannot be a slip. That is no so for a rule however strong, is liable to slip. Lao Tzu says, "The wise man's rules never slip for he has no rules."
So where is the question of their breaking? The sage makes no rules. His knowledge sets the code of his behaviour. He has set no limitations, no decorums. Decorum has flowered naturally out of his knowledge. He does not speak the truth for the sake of some allurement or greed. He call speak only the truth, there is no other remedy for him.
And it is not perhaps correct that he speaks the truth, it would be better to say that whatever he says, is the truth. His speech and Truth are not two different things. Now there is no means for untruth. Not that he has vowed never to lie, not that he has taken an oath to speak the truth and nothing but the truth. Words are always misleading and wrong; and it is always the weak who make use of them. When a person says he has made a firm resolve to speak the truth, it means there is a strong condition for telling the untruth within him. That is not so with the sage. Untruth has dropped and only Truth remains. Whatever is now spoken is the truth; Whatever is now lived is auspicious, whatever happens now, is beautiful.
Therefore it is Universal.
Enough for today.