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Chapter 29: Where the Positive and Negative Meet

Understanding is totally different from knowledge. Knowledge is borrowed, understanding is one’s own. Knowledge comes from without, understanding wells up within. Knowledge is ugly, because it is secondhand. And knowledge can never become part of your being. It will remain alien, it will remain foreign, it cannot get roots into you. Understanding grows out of you, it is your own flowering. It is authentically yours, hence it has beauty, and it liberates.

Truth can never be borrowed from anybody, and the borrowed truth is no longer truth. A borrowed truth is already a lie. The moment truth is said, it becomes a lie. Truth has to be experienced, not to be heard, not to be read. Truth is not just going to be a part of your accumulation, part of your memory. Truth has to be existential: each pore of your being should feel it. Yes, it has to be a feeling: each breath should be full of it. It should pulsate in you, it should circulate in you like your blood. When truth is understood, you become it.

Hence the Master Buko asked his disciple, “Basho, how is your understanding these days?” And don’t forget those two beautiful words, “these days.”

Truth is always growing. Truth is a movement. It is not static, it is dynamic. It is a dance. It is like growing trees and flowing rivers and moving stars. Truth is never at any point, a static phenomenon. It is not a stasis; it is utterly dynamic, it is movement. To be alive it has to be moving.

Only death is static, only death is stagnant. Hence the people who are dead may look alive on the surface, but if their truth is no longer growing they are dead.- their soul is no longer growing. Truth is not an idea but your very being, your very soul.

Hence the Master asked, “How is your understanding these days?” He is not asking about the past. Knowledge is always about the past, imagination is always about the future. He is asking about the present, he is asking about the immediate.

Basho responded,

Rain has passed
Green moss moistened.

Just a few moments before it was raining: the rain has passed, green moss moistened. It is good, but not very good. It is already past. It is no longer immediate. It is a memory already, it is no longer experiencing. Buko was not contented - the answer was good but not great. And a Master is never contented unless the answer is absolute, unless the answer is really as it should be - and certainly not with the potential of a man like Basho.

Now nobody knows about Buko, his Master. He is known only because of Basho. The disciple had infinite potential, the Master cannot be contented so easily. Remember it! - the more potential you have, the more you will be put to hard tasks. The Master will be severe with you. He is going to be very hard on you.

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