Chapter 1: One Boat, Two Travelers
But “to be” seems difficult to us and “to know about” feels easy, because all that we usually mean by knowing is to know a few words, a few doctrines, some philosophies, some scriptures. Our intellect becomes filled with words and doctrines, but the heart remains empty. And there is no situation more dangerous than this - where the intellect is filled up from the outside and the heart is empty - because this sort of intellect will create the illusion that one has attained, while nothing has actually been attained. With an intellect like this one feels that one is full, but inside all is empty and hollow, poor and miserable. The soul remains like the empty bowl of a beggar, while the intellect lives in the illusion that it is an emperor.
More people are misled by intellect than by ignorance, and more people drown sitting in their boats of intellect than sitting in the paper boats of their ignorance, because one appears to know - although one does not know at all. That is why I have said that subtle maxims of ultimate wisdom such as in the Sarvasar Upanishad are also dangerous; the fear is that we may only turn them into objects to think about. We may think about them, grasp them and then be finished with them. Hence, I warn you in advance that to involve oneself in the teachings of an Upanishad is like playing with fire. An Upanishad cannot be understood without also becoming transformed.
Look at it like this: there are some teachings which can be learned even if we remain as we are. One doesn’t need to transform oneself in order to learn mathematics or history or something like that. The person can remain the same and his learning will go on accumulating. That person’s inner being doesn’t need to undergo any transformation: he may remain the same and just go on accumulating knowledge. No inner revolution is required in order to become a historian or a mathematician or a scientist.
But religion is an entirely different matter. In religion a transformation is needed before the knowing can be acquired. Unless you change, you cannot understand; you will have to be transformed in order to understand. Unless the transformation is of your inner being, intellectual accumulations will not do; they become a deception, a self-deception. That is why it is better to remain ignorant instead of deceiving yourself with a false assumption of knowledge, because the ignorant person is at least humble, the learned person becomes egotistical and arrogant. The ignorant person at least feels the pain of emptiness in himself and tears flow from his eyes, but the learned person is just puffed up, his tears have dried up and his thirst has faded away. Even false water is capable of satisfying one’s thirst..
We have all had dreams of this kind: you are actually very thirsty, and then you dream that you are drinking water and your thirst is quenched. In this way your sleep is not disrupted. Dreams are only created to support your sleep. If you think that dreams disturb your sleep, then you are unaware of the science of dreams. If you think that if you don’t have dreams your sleep will be deeper, then you are mistaken. You will not even be able to sleep if you don’t have dreams.