Chapter 4: Death Is Life
The eighth sutra will not be solved by scriptures, will not be solved by doctrines. So if your mind gives the answer to this eighth sutra, that you are brahman, or what I said just now, “That art thou,” then you must have also read it, and that is not the answer. As long as you can give an answer, it is not the answer - because you don’t have it; you only have words, a collection of words.
This question “Who am I?” should go so deep in you that no answer arises in you, only the question remains, only a silent question remains - that your every breath starts asking “Who am I?”; every pore starts asking “Who am I?”; every heartbeat starts asking “Who am I?” Sitting, standing, walking, questioning or not questioning, it remains echoing in your mind: “Who am I?” And you find no answer. There just is no answer - because if you had the answer, then there would have been no need to ask.
But all of us carry answers. That is why in the eighth sutra all scriptures become barriers, all knowledge becomes a barrier. All that we call knowledge - all that we have learned, understood, memorized - becomes a barrier. Even the greatest words become barriers. The Gita, the Koran, the Bible - all become barriers. Whatsoever we have read, whatsoever we have learned, all starts becoming a barrier at the eighth stage, because it is our memory which answers: I am this, I am this, I am this..
All these answers have to be destroyed. These answers are not ours. Those who have given them must have known before giving them, must have understood before giving them; but these are not our answers. This is not our knowing; it is borrowed, it is stale.
Before reaching this eighth step, one will have to drop all knowledge and become totally ignorant. And one who is capable of becoming ignorant.. This ignorance is of a completely different kind.
Socrates has made a small, very beautiful distinction. And Socrates is one among those who has reached close to the eighth step.
Some village people went to Socrates and said, “The oracle of Delphi has declared that no one is wiser than Socrates.” They said, “These are the words of the oracle of Delphi - that no one is wiser than Socrates. What do you say?”
Socrates said, “Somewhere or other there has been some mistake, because I say unto you that no one is more ignorant than Socrates.”
The people said, “This is a difficult situation. Now if we believe the oracle of Delphi then we will have to believe Socrates also - and Socrates says that no one is more ignorant than him. And if we believe Socrates, that no one is more ignorant than him, then what about Delphi’s words? Socrates has put us into difficulty.”
Socrates said, “It is my job to put you into difficulty. I also faced many difficulties before I reached this point.”
But they asked, “What should we believe?”
Socrates said, “Go back and ask the oracle of Delphi.”