Chapter 1: Fear Is a Beggar
So in a sense we know him well; and yet we do not know him at all, because we are a part of him. How can a part know the whole? We dive in him, we float in him, live in him; at times we forget him and sometimes we remember him. Sometimes we feel ourselves very near him and sometimes far. In clear moments we feel that we have known him. When the heart gets over-filled, we know that we have known, because we have recognized him. Wisdom comes, then again it is lost and there is deep darkness. Then we falter again. But this very state of knowing and not knowing is the basic condition of a religious person.
When anyone questioned Buddha about God he would keep silent. What could he say? Contradictions cannot be spoken about. If he were to say, “I know,” he would be making a mistake, because who can say that he knows? And if Buddha were to say he did not know, he would be making a false statement, because who knew more than he!
Early one morning a very learned pundit came to Buddha to ask about God. Buddha remained silent. Soon the pundit left. Ananda asked Buddha why he had not answered, since the pundit was a man who knew a great deal and deserved an answer. Buddha said, “Just because he is deserving, it is all the more difficult to give him an answer. If I said I have known him, it would be wrong, because without knowing him completely how could I claim to know him at all? I said I did not, that too would be false. All claims derive from the ego and the ego can never know him. Since he is deserving and intelligent and understanding, I had to keep silent. He understood. Did you not see him bow before he left?”
Then Ananda remembered how the pundit was so grateful that he bowed reverently at Buddha’s feet. “How wonderful! Did he really understand? That never occurred to me.”
Buddha replied, “Horses are of three types. The first type you hit with a whip and they will move, inch by inch. The second type you need not whip; just threaten them and they move. For the third, you need not even crack the whip; just the shadow of the whip sets them going. The pundit belongs to the third type. I had only to show him the shadow and he started on the journey.”
Words are the whips; silence is the shadow. Words are needed, because it is the rare horse that responds to the shadow of the whip. The condition of one who knows is such that he cannot say he knows, and he cannot say he does not know. He is in between knowing and not knowing.
Nanak says he is without end. Whatever you say of him is too little. You keep on saying and yet you find that there is so much to say that you have hardly said anything. All expressions regarding him are incomplete. And all scriptures are incomplete; they are meant for the horses who don’t respond to the shadow of the whip.
There is no end to His virtues,
Nor to their narration.
There is no end to His works and His bounty.
As religion penetrates a person more and more profoundly, he begins to see his various works and also his beneficence.