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Chapter 5: Desire Only That Which Is Within You

7. Desire only that which is within you.

For within you is the light of the world -
the only light that can be shed upon the path.
If you are unable to perceive it within you,
it is useless to look for it elsewhere.

8. Desire only that which is beyond you.

It is beyond you,
because when you reach it you have lost yourself.

9. Desire only that which is unattainable.

It is unattainable,
because it for ever recedes.
You will enter the light,
but you will never touch the flame.

With these sutras the journey deepens.

The language of religiousness is a little puzzling. It has to be, because religion has less to do with facts and more to do with the mysterious. A fact is something that can be understood. And that which can be understood a little but which also remains not understood we describe as mysterious; only this much can be understood - that it cannot be understood. Fact is that which is below the level of the intellect; the mysterious is that which is above the level of the intellect. Intellect can measure the depths of fact, but when it tries to fathom the depths of the mysterious, the intellect itself is dissolved.

Ramakrishna used to say that if a figure made out of salt tries to fathom the depth of the ocean, it will fail. It will begin the search but it will never reach to the destination, because it is after all made of salt - and as it falls into the ocean’s depths, it is dissolving, becoming absorbed. By the time it has reached a certain depth it will be gone - nothing will remain, nothing can return and say how deep the ocean is.

Yet only salt can come to know the depths of the ocean. If you throw in a stone it will reach to the depths, but it will remain untouched by the soul of the ocean. How can something which cannot dissolve feel the ocean’s soul? How can something which cannot disappear, which cannot be absorbed, measure the real depth of the ocean?

The ocean has one kind of depth that can be measured in feet and miles, and it has another depth, an existential, oceanic depth, which cannot be measured in that way. Only salt will be able to measure that depth because it is willing to be dissolved, to merge, to lose itself. It will become one with the ocean through being absorbed. In that very absorption it will come to know the ocean. But then there will be no way to return and talk about it.

The mysterious means something that you may search for, but the time it is found you have already disappeared. We can hold a fact in our fists, but it is the mysterious in whose hands we are.

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