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OSHO Online Library   »   The Books   »   The Long, the Short and the All
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Chapter 1: Knowledge and Understanding

Man only has two options; there is no third direction open to him. From this initial spark of consciousness he can move forward to enlightenment or he can regress into a coma. The mechanical and repetitive circle of ordinary life does not automatically proceed towards the peak, towards enlightenment. It is an eternal law that without effort one falls back. Death comes without being invited, but life waits for an invitation.

This ray of knowledge exists in everyone, and one can only move ahead by its light. As a man begins to move inward the dimensions of knowledge begin to unfold before him and he begins to rise above his stagnant, dormant state. And as he becomes more and more familiar with his newfound, growing consciousness, something solid and deep within him begins to take shape, begins to crystallize. It is this process that leads to the individuality worthy of the name man.

It is true that man is not an animal, but is it correct to say that man has become man? His being an animal may be a past event, but his becoming a man is still a future possibility. We seem to be somewhere in the middle. This is our only affliction, our only tension, our only distress.

Only those who are dissatisfied with their miserable existences and make an effort to do something about them can become men. Manhood is not acquired automatically, you have to give birth to it within yourself. But to become a man you have to realize that simply not being an animal doesn’t necessarily make you a man. You cannot be satisfied with what you are. Only a deep and fervent dissatisfaction with yourself will become your evolution.

Religious leaders make much of the teaching “Know thyself.” But where does this “self” exist? Isn’t one’s self just the shadow of the universal self? So why should I say to you “Know thyself”? I simply repeat over and over - know, know, know! Know what is!

It makes no difference if no one recognizes me in the darkness that envelops the path of life, but just think of the terrible consequence if I fail to know myself. Many people are not as keen to know themselves as they are to be known by others. That is why life is becoming shrouded deeper and deeper in darkness. How can you shed light around you if you don’t know yourself at all?

The prayer of a man of knowledge is, “I will accept death readily - unknown to the world, unrecognized by my fellow men and uncrowned with success - but at least let me know myself.”

That single ray of light is enough to lead a man to God. The light of a single man who has the knowledge of the self is more valuable than the light of a million suns.

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