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Chapter 5: Knowledge Is That Which Liberates

In the world today there is more learning, more education and more universities than during any previous century, but there is also more misery, pain and lack of peace than in any previous century. Man’s life is more ruined by the current education. With high hopes and good intentions we are educating our children. We have our great dreams and desires for our children’s growth but in educating them we find that they have fallen low. Before our very eyes we see this happening, yet we increasingly go on creating the same type of education, colleges and hostels. It is difficult to conceive that there can be anyone more blind and foolish than man. Man has not learned anything from his past experiences, he has not learned any lessons.

I am reminded of a small event. The Buddha had arrived in a town. There was a poor cobbler named Sudas in that town. When Sudas got up in the morning, he saw in the lake behind his hut a lotus flower in full bloom, unseasonally; this was not the season for the lotus to blossom. Sudas thought, “If I take this flower to the market today, I am certain to find a customer who will buy it for one rupee. It is an unseasonal flower somebody will certainly buy it.” He plucked the flower and started off for the market, thinking, “I shall really be blessed if I get one rupee.”

While he was on the road, he saw the chariot of the richest man of the town passing by. Seeing the lotus, the rich man stopped the chariot and asked Sudas at what price he would sell. Sudas could not quote the price he wanted one rupee but instead said it was unseasonal and that the rich man might pay what he thought right. The rich man said, “I am giving you five hundred gold coins; do not sell it to anyone else.”

While the rich man was saying this, the commander-in-chief of the king pulled up on his horse and stopped and addressed Sudas: “I will purchase the flower for ten times the price the rich man is offering.”

Sudas said, “Have you people gone mad?” The rich man was paying five hundred gold coins and the commander was ready to pay ten times that price! While he was saying this, the chariot of the king came and the king said, “The flower is purchased by me, for ten times the price agreed to by the commander.”

Sudas was surprised. What has happened to these people! He said, “I was not expecting even one rupee for this flower and you people are ready to pay such a high price? What is the reason?”

The king said, “You are not aware: the Buddha has arrived in the town and we are going to receive him. I myself would like to offer this unseasonal flower to the Buddha, because he would not imagine that today someone could offer such a lotus flower at his feet! Who would not want to have such an opportunity to offer a rare flower?”

Sudas said, “In that case, there is no question of selling this flower; I myself shall offer the flower to the Buddha.”

The king tried to persuade him not to, saying, “Have you gone mad, Sudas?” Up till now Sudas was thinking that the rich man, the commander and the king had gone mad. Now all the three said, “Sudas, don’t be mad! The poverty of your past and future generations will be eradicated by selling the flower.”

Sudas said, “The poverty of all my lives is eradicated now I myself shall offer the flower.”

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