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Chapter 7: Into the Open Sky

A Sufi mystic, Hassan, was dying. When he was dying a man asked him, “Hassan, you have never told us who your master was. We have asked again and again; you always somehow managed not to answer it. Now you are leaving the world. Please tell us who your master was. We are very curious.”

Hassan said, “I never answered the question for the simple reason that there has not been just a single master in my life, I have learned from many people. My first teacher was a small child.”

They were puzzled. They said, “A small child! What are you saying? Have you lost your senses because you are dying? Have you gone mad, crazy?”

He said, “No, listen to the story. I went into a town. Although I had not known the truth up to that time, I was very knowledgeable. I was a scholar. I was well known all over the country; even outside the country my name was spreading. People had started coming to me thinking that I knew it. I was pretending that I knew it, and I was pretending without knowing that I was pretending - I was almost unconscious. Because people believed that I knew they convinced me that I must be right, I must be knowing, otherwise why should so many people be coming to me? I had become a teacher. Without knowing, without experiencing anything of truth, without ever entering into my own inner world, I was talking about great things. I knew all the scriptures; they were on the tip of my tongue.”

“But for three days I was moving in a country where nobody knew me and I was very much hankering to find somebody to ask me something so that I could show my knowledge.”

Knowledgeable people become very exhibitionistic; that is their whole joy. If a knowledgeable person has to remain silent he would rather commit suicide. Then what is the point of living in the world? He has to exhibit his knowledge. Only a wise man can be silent. For the wise man to speak is almost a burden; he speaks because he has to speak. The knowledgeable person speaks because he cannot remain silent. There is a vast difference; you may not be able to know it from the outside because both speak. The Buddha speaks, Jesus speaks, and Hassan was also speaking. And they all say beautiful things. Sometimes the knowledgeable people say wiser things than the wise people because the wise persons may speak in contradictions, in paradoxes, but the knowledgeable person is always logical, consistent; he has all the proofs and arguments, he has all the scriptures to support him.

But for three days he had to keep silent. It was almost like fasting, and he was feeling hungry - hungry for an audience, hungry for somebody. But he had not come across anybody who knew him so nobody asked anything.

He entered this town. It was just getting a little dark, the sun had just set. A small child was carrying an earthen lamp, and he asked the child, “My son, can I ask you a question? Where are you taking this earthen lamp?”

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