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Chapter 15: The Smokeless Flame

A patient, a great philosopher in his thirties, eagerly responded at the beginning of therapy to each interpretation his analyst made by saying, “I hear you, I hear you.”

“I’m sorry,” said the doctor. “I didn’t know you were a little deaf.”

“I’m not. I hear you. It means I comprehend,” said the philosopher.

“Well, what is it that you comprehend?”

The philosopher paused. “Jesus,” he finally replied, “I don’t know.”

Understanding is not the question, but comprehension. Understanding is of the head; comprehension is something deeper, of the heart. And if it is really total then it is even deeper: of the being.

When you understand something then you have to do something about it. When you comprehend you need not do anything about it; the very comprehension is enough to change you. If you comprehend something, it has already changed you; there is no need to do anything about your comprehensions.

Please don’t try to understand me intellectually. I am not an intellectual, in fact I am anti-intellectual. I am not a philosopher, I am very anti-philosophic. Try to comprehend me.

And how does one try to comprehend? How does one try to understand in the first place? Understanding means listening with the head, continuously interpreting, evaluating, judging: “This is right, this is wrong. Yes, this is true, I have read about it. This must be right, because Jesus also said it the same way. It is so in the Gita and in the Vedas.”

This goes on, this constant chattering inside that you call understanding. And then out of this hotchpotch you create a hypothesis, and you think this is what I have been telling you. Comprehension cannot come this way; this is the way to prevent comprehension.

Listen silently with no inner chattering, with no inner talk, without evaluating. I am not saying believe what I say, I am not saying accept what I say. I am saying there is no need to be in a hurry to accept or reject. First at least listen - why be in such a hurry? When you see a roseflower, do you accept or reject it? When you see a beautiful sunset, do you accept or reject it? You simply see, and in that very seeing is a meeting.

Don’t let your mind wander. Listen silently, attuned, and then something will stir in the heart. Truth has that quality, it stirs the heart. Truth has the quality of being self-evident, it needs no proofs.

If what I am saying has anything of truth in it, it will be understood by your heart. But the mind has to give way. And then you will not need to change your life according to it; it will be changed of its own accord.

The third question: