Chapter 5: Knowledge Is That Which Liberates
Sudas started walking towards the end of the town, where the Buddha was expected to enter. The king, the commander and the rich man all reached there far ahead of Sudas. They informed the Buddha of this most astonishing thing that had happened: “Today the poorest cobbler of the town refused to sell his lotus flower for any price. He wanted to offer it himself at your feet.”
Sudas came and offered the flower at the feet of the Buddha, and the Buddha asked him, “Oh, mad Sudas, why didn’t you sell the flower? It would have made life comfortable for your many future generations.”
Sudas replied, “My lord, money cannot be higher than love. The soul cannot be sold for rupees. As long as it was just a flower, I wanted to sell it. But the moment I thought of your feet, there was no question of selling; I myself could offer it. Poor people too can love. Poor people too can respect. Poor people too can trust. Poor people too have a soul. Please accept the flower!”
The Buddha then addressed his disciples and said, “Though Sudas is not literate, he is really learned, educated. He does not know how to read and write, but still he is really learned.”
One of the disciples asked the Buddha, “What do you mean by ‘really learned’?”
The Buddha replied, “Whosoever is aware of the higher values in life and who can give up lower values for higher ones, is really learned. Sudas has rejected money for the sake of love.”
Can we call people of today “really learned”, who reject love for money? Can we call people of today educated whose whole education is destroying higher values and embracing lower values? Can we call those learned who are always ready to give up the supreme for the petty, who are ready to sell the soul for the body, who have no higher value than money, for whom there is no other journey in life than reaching a position of power, and those in whose life and mind the meaningful receives less attention than the meaningless?
Can such learning liberate? No, it cannot. We are making our children engineers, doctors, mathematicians and chemists. But that is not education, that is only a means and method to earn a livelihood; it is only an arrangement for earning in a better way. We are sending our children to Europe and America for further education, and one may think one has done something very great in doing so. But we are only teaching them to earn their bread more efficiently nothing more than that. We are not educating them nor establishing any connection with education, because education means a birth of real and higher values in life.
What will the birth of real and higher values in life mean? If there is such a birth, man will become liberated, man will become full of bliss. The more life moves towards higher values, the more the bonds go on falling.
What are the bonds? What are the shackles? They are of lower values.