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Chapter 9: On the Wise Ones of Old

When they went into the room and he closed the door the boy said, “You don’t be nervous. Now, what do you want to know? I can tell you, don’t be so nervous.”

Children can now tell you many more things - and children feel that you are somehow a little ignorant, illiterate. Every child in the West feels that the parents are illiterate. The respect has disappeared. If men of knowledge dominate the society this is going to be so, because knowledge grows every day, changes every day, accumulates more and more. Of course children are more up to date than their parents. It has to be so. They know the latest.

In the East the man of wisdom has been the center of life, not the man of knowledge. Knowledge grows, changes, moves - wisdom is eternal, it is always the same. Whenever you attain it, it is always the same. It is like the sky which remains eternally the same. Seasons come and go: now it is winter, now it is summer, now it is raining, now the rains have disappeared. Trees come and die, generations come and go and the drama of life goes on moving, but the sky remains as it is, eternally the same, eternally new, ever fresh and always old. Wisdom is like the sky.

Of course knowledge can be taught in the universities, colleges, schools. Wisdom can never be taught. Nowhere can it be taught. Wisdom has to be imbibed through life, there is no other way. So only an old man can be a wise man. In wisdom the young man can never defeat the old man, but in knowledge he can always defeat him.

How can you defeat the old man in wisdom? Wisdom comes through experience; knowledge comes not through experience but through learning. You can cram it in, and if you are a little intelligent, more intelligent than the average, you can know more than your teacher. You can know more than your father, there is no problem about it. Just a little effort on your part is needed. But wisdom - there is no way. It comes by and by through life. If you live and if you live totally, if you live and you live with awareness, only then, drop by drop, does wisdom come into being. It is such a subtle phenomenon! There is no direct way to reach it. Only old people can be wise. That’s why whenever there is somebody who is wise and young, in the East we know that he is old, he is ancient.

There is a beautiful story about Lao Tzu that he was born old; when he was born he was eighty-four years of age - he had remained in his mother’s womb for eighty-four years. Absurd, unbelievable, but a beautiful story - says something, says something very significant. It says that from his very childhood he was like an old man, so wise he could not be a child. It says something. It is symbolic. It says that when he was a child he had as much wisdom as ordinarily a man of eighty-four would have. He must have been tremendously alert.

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