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Chapter 4: The Supreme Knowledge

The father said, “Only one question I have to ask you. Have you learned that by learning which there is no need to learn anything any more? Have you known that by knowing which all suffering ceases? Have you been taught that which cannot be taught?”

The boy also became sad. He said, “No. Whatsoever I know has been taught to me, and I can teach it to anybody who is ready to learn.”

The father said, “Then you go back and ask your master that you be taught that which cannot be taught.”

The boy said, “But that is absurd. If it cannot be taught, how can the master teach me?”

The father said, “That is the art of the master: he can teach you that which cannot be taught. You go back.”

He went back. Bowing down to his master’s feet, he said, “My father has sent me for an absolutely absurd thing. Now I don’t know where I am and what I am asking you. My father has told me to come back and return only when I have learned that which cannot be learned, when I have been taught that which cannot be taught. What is it? What is this? You never told me about it.”

The master said, “Unless one inquires, it cannot be told; you never inquired about it. But now you are starting a totally different journey. And remember, it cannot be taught, so it is very delicate; only indirectly will I help you. Do one thing: take all the animals of my gurukul - there were at least four hundred cows, bulls and other animals - and go to the deepest forest possible where nobody ever comes and moves. Live with these animals in silence. Don’t talk, because these animals cannot understand any language. So remain silent, and when just by reproduction these four hundred animals have become one thousand, then come back.”

It was going to be a long time - until four hundred animals had become one thousand. And he was to go without saying anything, without arguing, without asking, “What are you telling me to do? Where will it lead?” He was to just live with animals and trees and rocks; not talking, and forgetting the human world completely. Because your mind is a human creation, if you live with human beings the mind is continuously fed. They say something, you say something - the mind goes on learning, it goes on revolving.

“So go,” the master said, “to the hills, to the forest. Live alone. Don’t talk. And there is no use in thinking, because these animals won’t understand even your thinking. Drop all your scholarship here.”

Svetaketu followed. He went to the forest and lived with the animals for many years. For a few days thoughts remained there in the mind - the same thoughts repeating themselves again and again. Then it became boring. If new thoughts are not felt, then you will become aware that the mind is just repetitive, just a mechanical repetition; it goes on in a rut. And there was no way to get new knowledge. With new knowledge the mind is always happy, because there is something again to grind, something again to work out; the mechanism goes on moving.

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