Knowledge is of two kinds: knowledge of objects, and knowledge of the subjectivity. Knowledge of the known, the knowable, and knowledge of the knower. And a man can know millions and millions of things, he can become acquainted with the whole world, but if he is not aware of the knower he is ignorant. He may be knowledgeable, but he is not wise. He may have collected much information, much knowledge, but the basic thing which makes one a knower is lacking – he is not aware of himself.
In the Upanishads there is a story. Svetketu, a young boy, came back from his master to his home. He had passed all his examinations, and he had passed well. All that the master could give him, he had collected. He had become very egoistic.
When he reached his father’s house, the first thing the father asked Svetketu was this: “You seem to be too filled with knowledge, and your knowledge is making you very egoistic – the way you walk, the way you have entered the house. I have only one question to ask you. Have you known that who knows all? Have you known that by knowing which everything is known? Have you known yourself?”
Svetketu said, “But there was no course for it in the school, and the master never discussed it. I have known everything that can be known. You ask me anything and I will answer you. But what type of question are you raising? It was never discussed.”
The father said, “Then you go back, and unless you know that by knowing which everything is known, and without knowing which nothing is known, don’t come back. First know yourself.”
Svetketu went back. He asked the master, “My father says I cannot be allowed to go back home, I cannot be welcomed there, because he says that in our family we have been Brahmins not only by birth. We have been knowers, knowers of Brahma, Brahmins, not only by birth but by real authentic knowledge. So he said, ‘Unless you become a real Brahmin, not by birth, but by knowing the Brahma, by knowing the ultimate, don’t enter the house. You are not worthy of us.’ So now teach me that.”
The teacher said, “All that can be taught I have taught you. And that is something which cannot be taught. So you do one thing: you simply be available for it. It cannot be directly taught. You simply be receptive; some day it will happen. You take all the cows of the ashram…” The ashram had many cows; they say four hundred. “You take all the cows to the forest. Remain with the cows: stop thinking, stop verbalizing, just become a cow. Remain with the cows, love them, and be silent as cows are silent. When the cows become one thousand, come back.”
So Svetketu went with four hundred cows to the forest. There was no use in thinking, there was no one to talk to. By and by his mind became just like a cow. He sat silently under the trees, and for many years he had to wait, because only when the cows became one thousand could he come back. By and by language disappeared from his mind. By and by society disappeared from his mind. By and by he became not a human being at all. His eyes became just like cows.”