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Chapter 3: Just Counting Other People’s Cows

Buddha used to say to his disciples, “All knowledge that is not yours is not your concern. You are counting other people’s cows, unnecessarily wasting your time. It is better to have one cow of your own - it will be nourishment.”

But all your scholars are just counting other people’s cows. And they are doing immense harm without knowing it, because they are helping people to become knowers without knowing. This is the greatest harm that can be done to man, to give him a sense that he knows - and he knows nothing. You have destroyed his whole life. You have destroyed the opportunity in which he may have known, experienced, lived. You have taken all his opportunities, all his possibilities of growth.

I am against all these scholars, not because their intentions are bad but because the outcome of their very good intentions is disastrous. They have destroyed millions of people on the earth; they never allowed them to grow, they gave them a false notion that they know already. This is pure poison.

George Gurdjieff used to tell a story:

There was a magician who had many sheep, and it was a trouble to get them home from the forest every night - there were wild animals, and he was losing many of his sheep. Finally the idea came to him, “Why do I not use my expertise, my magic?”

He hypnotized all his sheep and told them different things. To one sheep he said, “You are a lion. You need not be afraid; you are the king amongst the animals.” To another he said, “You are a tiger,” to another, “You are a man.” And he told to everybody, to all the sheep: “You are not going to be butchered because you are not sheep, so you need not be afraid to come back home. You should come early, before nightfall.”

And from that day no sheep was missing. In fact, from that day no sheep was behaving like a sheep: somebody was roaring like a lion, somebody was behaving like a man, and nobody was afraid of being butchered, killed - the very question was irrelevant. And the magician was butchering them every day for his food. They may have been roaring like lions - that did not matter; a sheep is a sheep after all.

But he managed very beautifully. Giving one sheep the notion of being a lion, there was no need now to be bothered that he would try to escape, seeing that other sheep are being killed. Sheep were still being killed, but this sheep will know, “I am a lion, I am not a sheep. Sheep are bound to be killed!” When he is killed, others will be thinking, “He was just a sheep, we are men. And he was not only a sheep, but a foolish sheep who used to think that he is a lion, and never listened to us. We argued many times, ‘You are a sheep. We are men, we know better. You stop roaring, that is not going to help.’” But the magician was in absolute control.

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