Chapter 1: Knowledge and Understanding
For one who has not yet attained to life the question of using it correctly has no meaning whatsoever. Not attaining real life is to misuse life: attaining it is to use it correctly. The absence of real life causes the need for repentance; living an authentic life results in bliss. What can a man accomplish when his real life is still dormant within him?
A man who is asleep is not one, but many. He is a crowd. Mahavira has said that man has many minds. It is true. Not one, but many individuals exist inside us. And a crowd cannot decide anything. A crowd cannot make a judgment; a crowd cannot determine anything. To accomplish anything at all it is imperative the soul in each one of us becomes activated, becomes awakened. We must become one, instead of the disorderly crowd we are at present. We must become conscious of our own individuality. Only then will reactions be replaced by actions. Jung has termed this the individual’s attainment of his center.
When a man is asleep, unawakened, all of his efforts are futile. There is no sense of direction in such a man. What one part of him creates, another destroys. It is like yoking bullocks to the four sides of a cart, putting the reins into the hands of a sleeping driver and still hoping to get somewhere. The life of the ordinary man is just like this. He thinks he is getting somewhere, but he is not really moving at all. Such a man achieves nothing: he simply exhausts his energies.
Mankind must realize that what it has mistaken for life is nothing but a slow form of suicide. Death begins with birth. Death is part of the process of birth; it is not something that happens accidentally. Birth and death are the two poles of life. But there is a greater life, beyond birth, and we must either attain to it or perish.
It must be remembered that whatever occurs at the end of some event was also present in the beginning. The end is simply the beginning in its manifest form. And if life has two poles, then it follows it also has two directions - the possibility of life and the possibility of death. Stagnancy is death; consciousness is life. And man is a combination of these two things. He may be a machine, but there is an element in him that is able to comprehend this fact about himself. If he pursues this understanding he attains to life.
The existence of my consciousness gives me the knowledge that I am. And it is this realization itself that lights the path of existence, that illumines the path to life. The ray of light may be dim, it may be obscure, but still it is visible. And its existence is tremendously significant. That faint ray of light in the darkness is a sign, an indication that there is a possibility of reaching light. That ray of light gives me hope that the sun exists. Cannot the sun be known by a sunbeam? That ray of awareness in man points the way to his enlightenment. This slight indication of consciousness is man’s greatest possibility, his greatest asset. Nothing more valuable than that exists in him. If he follows it, he can reach the self, his soul; if he pursues it he can reach existence. This is the way to life, to the greater life, to God.