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Chapter 31: The Courage to Be Ignorant

The woodcutter said, “She is very sick and I am afraid she is dying, but she goes on looking out of the door, as if she is waiting for someone. Perhaps she is waiting for you, to see you for the last time. Perhaps that is why she is hanging around a little longer.”

Ramana went in and there were tears in the eyes of the cow. And she died happily, putting her head in the lap of Ramana Maharshi. This happened just in the twentieth century, and Ramana declared her enlightened, and told his people that a beautiful memorial should be made for her.

It is very rare for human beings to be enlightened; it is almost impossibly rare for animals to become enlightened, but the cow attained. She will not be born again. From the body of a cow she has bypassed the whole world of humanity, and she has jumped ahead and joined with the buddhas. So once in a while - there are a few instances only - it has happened. But that cannot be called the rule; it is just the exception.

Things are, but they do not know that they are. Animals are, they know that they are, but they don’t have the intelligence to ask who they are. And it is not something to be wondered about. Millions of human beings never ask the question - that is the third category.

Man is, is aware that he is, and is capable by birth to inquire who he is. So it is not a question of learning, cultivation, education; you bring the quest with yourself. You are the quest.

Your society destroys you. It has very sophisticated ways and means to destroy your quest, to remove the question from your being, or at least cover it up. The method it uses is this: before the child has even asked who he is, the answer is given. And any answer that has been given before the question has been asked is futile; it is going to be just a burden.

He is told that he is a soul, that he is a spirit, that he is not a body, that he is not material. Or, in communist countries he is told that he is a body, just material, and that only in the old days, out of fear and ignorance, did people believe that they have souls - that that is just a superstition. But in both cases the child is being given an answer for which he has not asked. His mind is delicate, pure.and he trusts his mother, his father - there is no reason for him not to trust.

He starts a journey of belief, and belief kills the quest. He becomes more and more knowledgeable. Then education is there, religious education is there, and there is no end to collecting knowledge. But all this knowledge is futile - not only futile, but poisonous, because the first step has gone wrong. The question was not asked, and the answer has been implanted in his mind, and since then he has been collecting more and more answers. He has completely forgotten that any answer that is not the finding of a question is meaningless.

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