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Chapter 4: Alight with the Inner Fire

A Buddhist monk told his disciple that only the divine resides in everything. The disciple understood it rationally and became convinced, because the master was charismatic and the young disciple was deeply impressed by him. He believed whatsoever his master said.

One day, he was passing by on a road when a mad elephant went rushing towards him. The elephant driver shouted at everybody to get out of the way, but the young disciple thought that the divine, the same brahman which is everywhere, is also in the elephant, so he was not afraid and he did not move out of the way. But the elephant was mad, and it had none of this philosophy or wisdom. And the elephant also did not know that this young man was a disciple of a famous spiritual master. So the mad elephant caught hold of the young man with his trunk and threw him down and the disciple was badly wounded.

Tattered and dirty, he went crying to the master saying, “You taught me an untrue thing - your brahman, the divine which is everywhere, didn’t take care of me at all today!”

The master said, “The divine in the elephant was mad and the divine in the elephant driver was shouting to give way, so why didn’t you listen to him and move? And why didn’t you listen to the voice of the divine within you that was telling you to give way?”

It will be difficult for you to understand this. When you are engaged in seeing the mundane world, it will be very difficult for you to understand the language of the inner world. The possibility for misunderstanding is always greater than the possibility for understanding.

For Shankara, it is the divine that is falling in a stone, it is the divine that wants to move away; it is the divine that will be hurt and it is the di-vine which hurts. For you, everything is material: the stone is matter and the foot is also matter, and one piece of matter is hurting another piece of matter. For Shankara, both are the divine: for him matter has disappeared and the divine is hurting the divine. And if matter can hurt matter, there is no reason why the divine cannot hurt the divine. But the whole gestalt has changed: wherever there was matter, now there is the divine. Matter has disappeared and only the divine is.

The difficulties that unconscious people and the enlightened ones have are not much different; it is actually one difficulty. The eyes of the unconscious people are focused on the world and to them the divine is not visible, and the eyes of the enlightened ones are focused on the divine and the material world does not exist for them. This is why the worldly man says that the divine does not exist. This is the declaration of the atheist, and the atheist is the totally worldly man. He is just the opposite of the awakened man: he is saying that the divine is unreal, an illusion. And the enlightened one is just the opposite of the atheist: he says that the world is unreal and the divine is real, and the real can only be one because he sees only the One.

Yama said to Nachiketa:

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