That is why the sage says “attributes.” An attribute means: As far as I could go, I found the ocean to be unfathomable. But this is only my experience, how can I say this is the actual state of the ocean? It might be that the limit was only one foot ahead of where I finished exploring – this is not an impossibility in any way. I could not find a limit, but how can I exclude the possibility of the limit being just ahead of me? All that I know is knowledge, but how can I say that there is nothing more beyond my knowledge?
That is why the sage calls them attributes. “Attributes” means that we recognize that it is our perception, that to the extent of our knowing we accept that it is truth, it is knowing, it is infinite and it is bliss. We have found it to be so.
The sages have always taken care that should there be a mistake, it should fall on our part, on the human side. The sages have always consciously accepted that they can make a mistake, but there is no reason that their mistake is to be imposed on the divine.
Our minds work in totally contradictory ways. Whatever conclusions we draw, we immediately impose them on others. We do not understand that we are always using this one approach. A man appears to be handsome and we say, “He is handsome.” We should restrict ourselves to saying, “He looks handsome to me” – just this much, this is enough. And if a man appears ugly, we should not say, “He is ugly”; it is enough to say, “He looks ugly to me, this is my feeling.” To someone else he may be handsome. And if a man appears to me to be a saint, I should restrict myself to saying that “He appears to be a saint to me.” He may not be a saint at all to others – and where is the way for anybody to know what he really is?
What you know from external appearances are your perceptions – your likings, your dislikings. You are present in them. But you immediately exclude yourself and impose your conclusions on others. Then the difficulty arises.
The sage says, these are attributes. Bliss too, he says, is an attribute, because you have been in so much distress for so many lives that the experience may have felt like bliss to you. It is like a man who is hungry for days and then gets a piece of dry bread. He says, “Ah! Today’s food is so delicious and satisfying, just the ultimate in taste; there is nothing better.” He is saying it for himself. He is simply saying that he had been hungry for a long time and in fact the taste of the food is due more to his hunger and less to the food. That is why someone who knows will say, “I am very hungry and that is why the food tastes so delicious.” An attribute means that it is a perception.
There comes a moment when we are completely emptied: the I is completely eliminated, the thou is eliminated and our every experience is eliminated. Then what will we say? Will we call it the infinite? We call it infinite because whatever we had known previously was finite; compared to our previous experience that was infinite. What we knew before was sorrow, so in comparison this is bliss. What we knew before was only ignorance and in comparison to this it is knowing. What we knew before was untruth, in comparison this is truth. But when we completely disappear, how then will we define that?