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Chapter 7: Be a Light unto Yourself

Knowledge is more of a certainty; knowing is more uncertain. That’s why people choose knowledge. Knowledge is more guaranteed, it has authority, centuries are standing behind it. That’s why every religion tries to prove that it is the oldest religion in the world. Why? Because the older a religion is, the greater the authority it has. Hindus say that the Vedas are the oldest scriptures in the world; - Bibles and Korans and Guru Granthas are just very late arrivals. The Vedas are very, very old. Why so much insistence? Because the older a scripture is, the longer it has stood the test of time, the greater the authority it has gathered around it. Millions of seers are witnesses to it.

Zen says truth has nothing to do with authority, truth has nothing to do with tradition, truth has nothing to do with the past - truth is a radical, personal realization. You have to come to it.

Knowledge is certain; the search for personal knowing is very, very hazardous. Nobody can guarantee it. If you ask me if I can guarantee you anything, I say I cannot guarantee you anything. I can only guarantee danger, that much is certain. I can only guarantee you a long adventure with every possibility of going astray and never reaching the goal. But one thing is certain: the very search will help you to grow. I can guarantee only growth. Danger will be there, sacrifice will be there; you will be moving every day into the unknown, into the uncharted, and there will be no map to follow, no guide to follow. Yes, there are millions of dangers and you can go astray and you can get lost, but that is the only way one grows. Insecurity is the only way to grow, to face danger is the only way to grow, to accept the challenge of the unknown is the only way to grow. So I can guarantee only growth.

Knowledge guarantees everything. There will be no danger if you follow the Veda, if you follow the Bible - then you need not worry. Now it is Christ who has to worry about it, and he knows. You have simply to imitate him. And the seers of the Vedas know and Mohammed knows, so there is no need for you to make your own private effort. It has already been known, you simply believe. All that is required from you by ordinary religions is belief.

Zen says belief is counterfeit, borrowed.

You have to grow and you have to take the risk. I can guarantee you risk. In the open sky of the truth one searches, with trial and error; many times going astray, and again and again coming back to the right path. That’s the only way.

Truth is not cheap; belief is very cheap. Truth is very costly - you will have to pay with your life. Truth requires total sacrifice, nothing less will do.

Zen says that if you are believing scriptures, tradition, others. It is irrelevant if they are wrong or right, that is not the point. Remember, Zen doesn’t say that the Bible is wrong, Zen doesn’t say that the Veda is wrong - Zen says they are irrelevant. It has nothing to do with right and wrong. They may be right, they may be wrong, but that is not the point to be considered at all. Through them growth is not possible. Those who have written them were grown-up people, mature. They have asserted something that they have known - but for them that was knowing, for you it will be knowledge.

Knowing means that you have seen it with your own eyes; knowledge means you have heard it from others. It is very poor, and one who remains with knowledge remains poor. A pundit, a so-called learned man, is the poorest man in the world. He has only counterfeit money and he goes on counting it.

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