Chapter 2: The Attitude of a Disciple
There is another dimension of knowledge which this sutra has called brahmavidya, the science of the divine. It is completely different from the effort of science which tries to know things by analysis. The effort of brahmavidya is to try to know things in their entirety, in their synthesis. The brahman, the divine, is the totality of existence, the wholeness: brahmavidya tries to know it directly, without dividing; to know it in its totality, in its innateness, in its individuality, in its oneness - not in its separate parts. Existence can only be known in its wholeness, directly. I don’t try to know the trees separately or to become acquainted with the animals separately or to know man separately or to divide the rocks, the mountains, the stars and the moon. No. Rather, I make an effort to know the whole synthesis of existence directly. This effort is called brahmavidya.
Now it is very interesting that as science manages to push ignorance back a little, it creates more ignorance. Brahmavidya does not push ignorance back, it destroys it totally. Brahmavidya is not a struggle with ignorance; rather, it is an awakening of knowledge. Brahmavidya does not abolish ignorance, it simply awakens knowledge.
This is worth understanding: when science divides things, it also divides man’s mind. This is how specialization is born. A man who studies matter develops only one part of his brain: the part that is used in the study of matter. Scientists say that different parts of the brain function separately: the part you feel with is separate from the part you do mathematics with, the part you calculate with is not the same as the part you do agriculture with, and the part you run your shop with is not the same as the part you paint with or write poetry with.
The human brain is made up of over seven billion cells, and different parts of the brain function separately. This is why it is relaxing and refreshing to change your work. A man is reading a book and then he stops and starts listening to the radio: if his entire brain were working all at the same time, then the brain that was reading the book would be the same brain that listens to the radio. This would only make your brain more tired, not less tired. But it is one part of the brain that reads and another that listens to the radio. When you put your book away and start listening to the radio, the part of your brain that was being used to read the book can now rest. When you change your work from one thing to another, the brain immediately gets a rest. The part that was busy functioning quietens down when the other part begins to function.
It usually happens that when somebody sits down and stops all activity - for instance, when someone sits down to meditate - he faces great trouble. He faces trouble because each moment a certain amount of his energy is busy functioning in the brain, and the shift from one part of the brain to another allows it to rest; but when he wants to give a rest to all the parts simultaneously, all that energy begins to wander and relaxation becomes difficult. This is the reason why it is difficult to meditate.
People say that when they first sit for meditation, they had never realized before how many thoughts come into the mind. There are not so many thoughts if they start digging a ditch or playing cards or smoking a cigarette - but when they sit down to meditate, the mind becomes full of so many thoughts. The reason for this is that you have never practiced giving your whole energy a rest; you have always shifted your work from one corner of the brain to another. But the energy has always remained engaged: from one corner to a second one, from a second one to a third - and there are thousands of divisions in the brain.