Chapter 4: Thought and Vision
Knowledge is not to be found in thought or in the absence of thought. Knowledge is to be found where the seer is, where the one who witnesses both thought and no-thought exists. Thoughts are only memory, and we mistake the training of the memory for knowledge. The memory simply provides answers to external questions and we incorrectly assume this is thinking.
Do you understand the difference between thought and memory? Memory is totally of the past. It is a dead collection of past experiences. Then where are the answers to the questions of life to be found? Life is a riddle, a puzzle, because the old solutions are incapable of solving new problems. There is no relation whatsoever between the old solutions you have accumulated and the fresh problems that arise from day to day. And so the mind loses touch with life, and so a man ages and dies long before his physical body actually perishes. To investigate truth you need a mind that is never too old to face the mysteries of life. When a mind is tied to the past it loses its freshness, its inspiration, its power of thought. It becomes closed to life. The possibility of pure unbiased thought only exists when one’s mind is not bound to the memory, when it is not tied to the so-called knowledge that has taken the form of memory.
Looking at life though the memory is viewing the present through the veil of the past. Only when the mind is freed from this slavery does it attain the capacity of real perception. And real perception leads to real knowledge. If your vision is pure, the latent power of self-knowledge awakens within you. Your vision is freed from the past as soon as you liberate yourself from the burden of the memory and focus on the present.
Never mistake memory for knowledge. Memory is just a mechanical process, just an aid to thinking. The invention of computers has shown clearly that memory is a mechanical thing. Given the appropriate knowledge, given the correct facts, these machines provide the correct answers. There is no margin of error whatsoever. We feed our minds in the same way - with the Gita, with the Koran, with the Bible, with the words of Mahavira, of Buddha, of Mohammed and even with the daily newspapers - but the memory can only print out what has been put into it. The memory cannot think of its own accord. It is important, but its role should not be misunderstood. It should not be taken for what it is not. Real thought is always original; memory is always mechanical.
Thought born of memory is neither original nor alive. Knowledge, on the other hand, it totally different. Knowledge is not a mechanical process, it comes out of conscious awareness. And because the nature of knowledge is such, it cannot be produced by machines. Wisdom is never mechanical, but learning is. And the most stagnant of minds belongs to the so-called learned man. This type of mind provides the answers to questions even before they arise. This is nothing more than a repetitive process, relying on faith rather than on initiative. Thought that is dependent on memory needs faith to stand on, and faith, in turn, is supported by repetition which depends on memory. It is a vicious circle.