Chapter 2: Just Throw the Whole Bag
The first question:
You say that enlightenment can happen any moment. To me it feels like a very slow process of learning and becoming aware of the unconscious parts of my being. Do you have something to say about this?
Enlightenment is not a process of learning; on the contrary, it is a process of unlearning. Whatsoever you know has to be dropped. Knowledge, the knowledgeable mind, has to be renounced.
If it were a process of learning, then certainly it would take time, it would be gradual. But if it is a question of dropping something then it is not gradual, it need not be gradual. You can simply drop it instantly.
Once it happened:
A man came to Sri Ramakrishna with ten thousand gold coins to offer him. Ramakrishna accepted his offering and then said, “Now these coins are mine - you go to the Ganges and throw them all into the river.” Ramakrishna lived in a temple just on the bank of the Ganges.
The man was very much shocked. “Ten thousand gold coins, solid gold coins, and this fool is saying, ‘Throw them into the river!’ And I have always thought that this man had become enlightened - he is simply mad!” He hesitated.
Ramakrishna said, “When you have offered them to me they no longer belong to you. Why are you hesitating? I can send somebody else to throw them away. You please go.”
The man went, reluctantly of course, and he didn’t come back. One hour passed. Ramakrishna inquired, “What happened to that man? Has he escaped with the coins? Go and inquire.”
Somebody was sent. There was a great crowd, he had gathered a great crowd, and he was throwing each single coin, one by one, and counting them!
When Ramakrishna was told, “This is what is happening - it may take a few hours more,” Ramakrishna went himself, hit the man on the head and said, “Are you mad or something? When you collect coins, of course you collect them one by one, it is a gradual process. But when you are throwing them away, why are you counting? Just throw the whole bag! Whether they are ten thousand or a few more or a few less, it doesn’t matter. The Ganges won’t take any note of it!”
This is the situation. When you stop gathering knowledge you also unlearn slowly, not because unlearning has to be slow. It is only your clinging mind. It is the mind that does not want to renounce knowledge, hence it goes on postponing. It finds beautiful rationalizations.