Chapter 2: Meditation: The Razor’s Edge
Learning and waking up are quite different things. Learning is just a matter of memorizing; no knowing is needed. The knowing may be someone else’s - you can still learn. This is how all our education operates. All education is borrowed knowledge, there is no concern for one’s own experiencing. The libraries are full of books that will help you to learn about love. You can read them all and conduct great research programs, and can even write your own treatises on love; no loving is necessary in order to learn about love. Learning does not require that you experience.
To experience, waking up is necessary; and to experience the divine you will have to be fully awake. It is the experience of complete awakening, it can happen only if you are perfectly awake. You can accumulate worldly knowledge in your sleep too, but to come to know truth is impossible in a sleeping state. These Russian scientists may succeed in imparting instruction to sleeping people, but there is nothing in this world that can turn a person into a sage in his sleep. At the most one can only ever be turned into a pundit.
Between sleep and erudition there is no conflict; they are deeply related. But sleep and true knowing are great opposites facing each other, for the very meaning of true knowing is that there is no sleep left, no unconsciousness left, only perfect wakefulness.
We live our lives in slumber; walking, talking, sitting, working, we slumber, unaware of what we are doing. Hungry, we gobble down a good meal. We have to work, so we spend our day in the office and go home in the evening. But these and our other activities are carried out through force of habit; no wakefulness is needed for them, they are all mechanical routines.
You may have heard about somnambulists who walk and do many other things in their sleep. Some of you probably walk in your sleep - because psychologists estimate that a minimum of five percent of adults are somnambulistic. They get up in the night, eyes open, while everything inside remains asleep. They leave their beds and walk around in the dark in a way that they might well be unable to do when awake. They wander through the house, picking their way around the furniture and finding many jobs to do.
It has frequently been observed that the families of such people think they have a ghost in the house; the simple fact is that the ghost creating all the disturbance is living in the family. He also does not remember, and in the morning he will deny any part in what he alone did during the night. He was as unaware of his actions as a drunkard wandering along a road.
Sometimes drunkards are so at home in their drunkenness that you may not recognize their condition. Sleepwalkers share this same ability to wander over great distances, and to perform tasks that can only be considered miracles when a person is asleep. There are even people who have committed murder in their sleep, and then returned to bed; and of course, in the morning they have no knowledge of what they have done.