Chapter 5: The Way of Wisdom, the Way of Love
But can you say now that you know? Now there is no one separate who can claim to be the knower. This is the problem. Truth is known, but in such a way that you cannot claim knowledge. Truth is known in such a way that by knowing it the mystery does not disappear; in fact it becomes very, very deep, infinitely deep, ultimately deep. By knowing the truth, nothing is solved. In fact for the first time you are facing the insoluble. This is the paradox, the dilemma.
If you understand this dilemma, then you will be able to follow what Kabir is trying to say.
Let us go into it a little more. All knowledge is illusory; we only think that we know. What do we mean when we say we know? When you say, “I know this tree,” what do you mean? It is a pine tree or an old oak or something else. What do you know? You know a label: it is a “pine” or an “oak” or an “ashoka.” You know a name. All that your knowledge consists of is that you know the label. Forget the label and the unknown is there. All knowledge consists only of names - drop the label and suddenly the unknown is there.
But we live by naming things. It gives us a false sense of security. Otherwise everybody is a stranger and it will be too difficult to live with strangers, it will be so difficult to trust strangers. Mind immediately jumps upon anything that comes, labels it, and feels good. Finished. This man is a “good” man, and this man is a “sinner” - you have labeled.
But can’t you observe a simple reality that the saint can become the sinner the next moment, and the sinner can become the saint? So what do you know? The murderer can become a mahatma and the mahatma can become a murderer. So when you say this man is “good,” what are you saying? Do you know this man, because this good man can prove bad any moment? And you say another man is “bad,” and he can prove to be the holiest of men any moment. So what do you know? By labeling, by naming, you have not known anything. The reality remains unexplained, mysterious.
You say, “This woman is my wife,” or “This man is my husband.” What do you know? Just labeling a person “my husband,” have you known something? You are just in a deception. You have created an illusion of knowledge.
But the mind wants this illusion very much. It feels at ease. With this illusory knowledge surrounding you, you feel at home. Mind lives in lies - old or new, but mind lives in lies.
I have heard:
When Herbert Wise, the chess champion, returned to the freshwater college he had attended in his youth, the prexi suggested that he have a look at the dormitory room he had occupied as a student. The lad who was living there at the time unfortunately had chosen this evening to smuggle in a beautiful young coed to help him with his history - a gross infraction of rules. When he heard the president and Mr. Wise in the hall, he hid the girl hastily in the clothes closet.
Wise looked at the familiar old room, sighed, and remarked, “Same old desk, same old chairs.” Then when he opened the closet door, saw the flustered coed, added softly, “And the same old girl.”
“It is my sister, sir,” stammered the young man.