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Chapter 17: Such Is This Mystery

Try to understand it like this, one man is born a beggar and he grows up begging on the streets. Then there is Gautama the Buddha, who renounces his palace one day and suddenly goes to beg on the streets. The street is the same, the begging bowls may be the same, and the beggar and Buddha may be walking together on the same street to beg. So what is the difference? Both are out to beg, both have a begging bowl in their hands, both will stand begging at many doors; both are beggars - but are they really the same? The difference is not visible on the surface, but a great difference lies within.

The beggar is just a beggar, he has nothing at all. He has never known any riches and so he is suffering from having nothing. He has no money - Buddha too has no money - but the beggar has never known money, that is why the lack of money is like a hollowness to him, a pit; it is a suffering, a wound - it oozes. His very being is empty; his begging bowl is not only in his hands, his begging has gone deep within him. And this Buddha who is standing near him is also a beggar, but he has known riches. His trouble was not lack of money, his trouble was too much money. He had too much of it, more than enough, and therefore it became meaningless. He has left money after knowing it, money has become meaningless to him. But for the beggar it is very meaningful.

Both are beggars, but Buddha’s begging has the grace of an emperor. Even in his begging Buddha has a grandeur which emperors would envy. Even in his begging Buddha is a master. For him money has become meaningless, it has dropped. The other man is also a beggar, but he really is a beggar; money is very meaningful to him, and the desire for money continues.

The situation is the same between an ignorant man and the man of ultimate wisdom. The wise man renounces knowledge the same way that Buddha renounced wealth - after knowing it, after enjoying it, after having it. He sees that even knowledge has a boundary, that all knowledgeability stops there and no meeting with the infinite happens, so he renounces knowledge. He puts fire to his knowledge, puts his knowledgeability on the fire and burns it. He becomes like an ignorant man, but he is not ignorant. The ignorant man is still seeking knowledge, whereas this man has completed his journey for knowledge and has gone beyond it.

Hence, the sage says:

I am this brahman, known by all vedanta.
the state beyond knowledge.

He does not say: “I am that brahman who is known by all the vedas, the ancient scriptures,” because he is not the brahman which the scriptures talk about. That brahman is finite, bound by the concepts of knowledge. “I am the brahman which is known in that state which is beyond knowledge. Even the scriptures cannot know of it. Only someone who dares to renounce his scriptures, his knowledge, is able to know it; I am that brahman.” It will become easy if we try to understand it from the inside.

We can know everything through knowledge except ourselves, because everything is in front of knowledge and we are only behind it. We can know everything through the faculty of knowledge, it is only a means for us.

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