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Chapter 7: Knowledge Is Dangerous

A man went to a doctor and told him that his wife was not bearing children.

The physician saw the woman, took her pulse and said: “I cannot treat you for sterility because I have discovered that you will in any case die within forty days.”

When she heard this the woman was so worried that she could eat nothing during the ensuing forty days.

But she did not die at the time predicted, so the husband took the matter up with the doctor, who said: “Yes, I knew that. Now she will be fertile.”

The husband asked how this came about.

The doctor told him: “Your wife was too fat, and this was interfering with her fertility. I knew that the only thing that would put her off her food would be the fear of dying. She is now, therefore, cured.”

The question of knowledge is a very dangerous one.

Yes, the question of knowledge is a very dangerous one - for many reasons. The first is that when a man knows, he also knows the complicatedness of life, the complexity of life. When a man knows, he also knows the mysterious ways of how life functions. So it is not a question of asserting a truth - the basic question is how to lead someone to the truth. Sometimes lies are used because they help; and sometimes truths cannot be used because they hinder.

Every great master - Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed - they are all great liars. This will be hard to believe; but when I say it, I say it with much consideration. And I know why it is so. The basic question is not to tell the truth to you; the basic question is how to lead you towards the truth.

Somebody asked Buddha, “What is truth?” and Buddha said, “That which can be utilized.”

This is not a definition of truth, because lies can be utilized - but Buddha is right. If something can help you, it may be a fiction, but if it helps you and leads towards the truth, it is true. And sometimes just otherwise may be the case: you know the truth, but it becomes the hindrance and it leads you more and more into confusion, into darkness. So the final outcome should be the criterion; the end result should be the criterion.

It happened once: A Sufi master was feeling thirsty. He was surrounded by his disciples, and he asked a small boy, who was also sitting there listening to him, to go to the well. He gave him an earthen pot and told him, “Be careful, the pot is earthen but very valuable. It is an antique piece. Don’t drop it, don’t break it.” Then he slapped the boy’s face hard two or three times and said, “Now go.”

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