Chapter 1: Be on Guard
For if in your renunciation
you are reckless and break your word,
if your purpose wavers,
you will not find the light.
Do what you have to do
resolutely, with all your heart.
The traveler who hesitates
only raises dust on the road.
It is better to do nothing
than to do what is wrong.
For whatever you do, you do to yourself.
Like a border town well guarded,
guard yourself within and without.
Let not a single moment pass
lest you fall into darkness.
Feel shame only where shame is due.
Fear only what is fearful.
See evil only in what is evil.
Lest you mistake the true way
and fall into darkness.
See what is.
See what is not.
Follow the true way.
Gautama the Buddha has given to the world the most psychological religion. It is incomparable; no other religion even comes close to it. Its heights, its depths, are tremendous. And the reason why Buddha succeeded in giving such a beautiful vision of life is very simple: he did not believe; he inquired, he explored. He did not believe in the tradition, he did not believe in the scriptures, he did not believe in the priests.
This was one of his fundamentals: that unless you know, you don’t know. You can borrow knowledge, you can become knowledgeable, well informed, a scholar, a pundit, a professor, but you will not be a seer. Deep down the ignorance will persist and will affect your life. Deep down you will remain the same childish self, immature, ungrounded, uncentered, unintegrated. You will not be an individual, you won’t have any authenticity. You will be pseudo, false, phony.
It is a quantum leap into the unknown. When you don’t believe in the tradition, when you don’t believe in the scriptures, when you don’t believe in anything except your own experience, you are going into the unknown all alone. It needs guts, it needs courage. And only a courageous person can be truly religious.
Cowards are there in the churches, in the temples, in the mosques in millions, but they don’t create any religious beauty, any religious fragrance in the world. They don’t make the world more beautiful, more alive, more sensitive. They don’t create anything. They only go on doing formalities, rituals. They themselves are dead and they go on deceiving others; they themselves are deceived.
Borrowed knowledge creates great deception because you start feeling as if you know - and that “as if” is a big “as if.”
Truth liberates, belief binds. Truth liberates because it has to be yours; it has to be an inner experience, an encounter with that which is.