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Chapter 1: Knowledge and Understanding

Knowledge says “I am emptiness” and in that emptiness it becomes God himself. Ignorance says “I am everything: I am God” and in this fantasy of being God it remains empty. What knowledge realized, ignorance deludes itself into thinking it has realized. What knowledge knows, ignorance can only admit to, can only accept. What ignorance proclaims, it never becomes.

To know existence, you have to transform the self into a mirror. The shadows of your thoughts distort your mind. But as thoughts subside and the mind becomes empty the mirror that is capable of reflecting the truth is suddenly there.

Nothing is simpler than greatness. Simplicity itself is greatness.

To realize existence one has to come face-to-face with non-existence first. Only when a man is encompassed by nonexistence does he realize that existence can be known, can be recognized, can be loved. Only when a man is surrounded by the vast ocean of nonexistence can he have the intense experience of existence itself. For the very same reason, those who thirst for the fullness of truth must first move into the realm of the void, into inner emptiness.

I am reminded of something that happened one evening. I was in a remote village and as evening approached a clay lamp was lit in the hut where I was staying. Since darkness had not yet settled in, at first it appeared as if the flame of the lamp were hardly flickering at all. Had the lamp had any consciousness it would have seen at once that it really had not light of its own at all. And had the midday sun been blazing down the lamp would not even have known it was burning. But as darkness approached the lamp gradually began to spread its brilliance about the room, and as the darkness thickened the light grew brighter and brighter. As the moon came up, I continued to observe the growing life, the burgeoning vitality in the flame of the lamp. If the lamp knew itself now it would have believed it was no less than the sun.

This little incident sparked a thought in me. The flame and the lamp hadn’t changed at all; the change had been in the darkness. As the background of darkness grew in intensity, the brilliance of the lamp manifested itself more and more clearly. The darkness was a friend to the lamp: the darkness had helped it assert itself completely.

This is also true of the self.

When the self is enveloped by existence it is not apparent at all, but when the mind becomes completely empty the full glory of the self shines forth. It is only through the door of nonexistence, through the gateway of emptiness, that one can gain access to existence, to life itself.

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