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Chapter 5: Questions: Exposing Your Way from Ignorance to Innocence

So never wait, thinking that somebody is bound to ask the question and save you the trouble of exposing yourself as ignorant, so you can remain silent, looking wise. Just not asking the question does not mean that you know. It only means that you are not courageous enough, it only means that you are afraid to show your darker side. But unless you show your disease, unless you say something about it, the physician cannot do anything.

I had a professor friend. He was a great scholar of ancient Sanskrit. Not only was he a scholar of ancient Sanskrit, his mind was also very old and rotten.

He was feeling sick, and as I was coming out of my classroom he told me, “I am feeling very weak and very sick. I don’t know what the problem is, but you have to give me a lift and take me to the nearby doctor.” So I took him to a friend who was one of the best doctors near the university campus.

Now, in ancient Indian medicine the patient does not say anything to the physician; that is thought to be insulting. The physician takes the wrist of the patient, checks his pulse; that’s all. And he decides what the disease is and he decides what the medicine is going to be. And the Indian medicine, Ayurveda, has been very proud about it.

So this ancient Sanskrit scholar would not say to the doctor what the problem was. He said, “You are a doctor, you have studied in England, you have got the best education; you have to find out what my disease is.”

The doctor said, “This is strange. I am not a doctor of animals; I am a doctor of human beings. Of course as far as animals are concerned they cannot say what the problem is, so the vet has to find out, to figure out what the donkey is suffering from

And sometimes things go very wrong. I remember one case. One of my neighbors in my village had a donkey, a very good donkey. And suddenly there was some epidemic among donkeys and many donkeys in the town died. The veterinary hospital and its doctors were at a loss what to do because the donkeys could not say what was happening. And they were unable to find out. The disease seemed to be something very new.

My friend was very much afraid for his donkey. He said, “Before anything happens, I want to take all precautions.”

So we both took his donkey - because I used to sit on his donkey; he was the best in the town - to the doctor. And the doctor said, “He is not sick at all.”

We said, “We know and he knows too, because he was not willing to come this way; we have brought him forcibly. But we want to take precautions. Other donkeys are dying, and this is such a beautiful fellow. So if you can just help; as a precaution give him some medicine so that he is not affected by the epidemic.”

He gave us some solution, and also a small bamboo pipe, and he told the man whose donkey it was, “You have to put this medicine in your mouth.”

The man said, “What are you saying - a donkey’s medicine? Why should I put it in my mouth?”

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