Chapter 8: Not Knowing Life Is Death
But, until then, the king had not realized the consequences of having his own separate well. So he turned to the prime minister for advice. The prime minister said, “Now there is nothing left for which to seek advice. Just escape by the back door, drink the water of the well outside and hurry back; otherwise this palace is in grave danger.”
The king asked in horror, “You want me to drink water from that well? You want me to go mad?”
“There is no other way you can save yourself except by becoming mad,” replied the prime minister.
The king and his queens rushed to the city well and drank its water. That night a great celebration took place in the city. The people expressed their joy, singing and dancing the whole night. They thanked God for restoring the king’s mental state, because now the king was also dancing in the crowd and shouting abuse. Mentally, the king had become normal.
Since our state of sleep is so common, so universal, and because we have been asleep since birth, we remain unaware. In this state of sleep what do we understand about life? We understand only that the body itself is life and that one is unable to penetrate the body. This kind of understanding is similar to a man mistaking the outer wall of a palace for the palace itself, or a man walking on the parapet and thinking he is in the palace, or a man sleeping, leaning on the outer wall, thinking he is resting in the palace. One whose understanding revolves around the body is like this fool who imagines himself to be the palace’s guest while standing outside its walls.
We have no access inside the body. We live outside the body. We are familiar only with the outer layer of the body; we never come to know its inner layers. We don’t even know the inner sides of the palace walls, let alone the palace itself. We consider the outside of the wall to be the palace, we remain ignorant of the inside of the wall.
We know our bodies externally; we have never gone inside and seen the body from within. For example, we are all seated in this room; we can see this room from within. A man, wandering around outside, sees this house from the outside; he can’t see it from within as we do. Man is not even able to see his own body, his own house from within - he knows it only from the outside. And this gives rise to the idea of death.
That which we know from without is only the sheath, it is only the outer covering. It is only the outer wall of a house, it is not the master of the house. The master of the house is within, and we never get to meet him. When we don’t even know the wall from the inside, how will we come to know the master seated within?