Chapter 3: Just Counting Other People’s Cows
But all your religious scholars and leaders are nothing but memories, trained memories. They don’t know what they are saying, but they say it correctly. Their language is right, their grammar is right, their pronunciation is right, their accent is right, but all these are futile because they don’t know the meaning, they have never lived it. That meaning comes through living, through experiencing. But they will remain in a deception, and they will spread the same deception to other people.
So I say again: the popes, the bishops, the shankaracharyas - they are not intentionally doing any crime. They are fast asleep; they cannot do anything intentionally! They are living an unconscious life. Their words are beautiful - they have collected them from beautiful sources - but the words have not grown within their being, the words are not part of their life. They are as ignorant as the people they are teaching.
Socrates used to say that there is a knowledge which is ignorant, and there is an ignorance which is knowledge. Borrowed knowledge is ignorance.
Experienced truth makes you not knowledgeable, but humble. The more you know it, the less you claim to know it. The day you know it perfectly, you can only say, “I am utter ignorance. I am just a child, collecting seashells on the beach. I know nothing.”
“I do not know,” can only be said by a man who knows perfectly.
The people who say, “We know,” are utterly ignorant people - but their memories are full. And those memories are dead, because they have not given birth to any experience of their own.
Gautam Buddha used to say, “I used to know a man - he was my servant. Sitting by the door, he would count the cows that were going early in the morning to the pasture, to the river.”
He would count them - it had become almost an automatic thing with him. His duty was to sit in front of the door of Gautam Buddha, in case he needs anything; otherwise he was sitting there the whole day. And by the time the cows returned.. It is one of the most beautiful times. In Indian villages, which are still not modernized, the time when the sun is setting has got a special name, gaudhooli. “Gau” means cow, and “dhooli” means dust: the cows are coming, raising dust. The sun is setting, the birds are returning to their trees - it is a very peaceful moment.
So at the time of gaudhooli he would again count the cows that were returning home. And he would become very much worried if some cow was missing, if the count was not exactly as it should have been. Later, when Gautam Buddha became a great master, he used the story of that man and his habit to explain something immensely meaningful.
He said, “I used to ask that poor fellow, ‘Do you have a cow?’ And he would say, ‘I am so poor, I don’t have a cow.’ And I would say to him, ‘Then why do you unnecessarily go on counting thousands of cows in the morning, then in the evening again - thousands of cows? And if one cow is missing - or perhaps you have miscounted - then you are worried, you cannot sleep. And it is not your cow, it is not your concern!’”