The first thing is impartiality: one should be unprejudiced, and nobody is unprejudiced. And that is a basic requirement to grow into a greater vision. To come out of the prisons, the first thing is to drop prejudices: prejudices called Hinduism, prejudices called Mohammedanism, prejudices called Christianity. One has to drop all prejudices. How can you ever know truth if you have already decided what it is? If you are already functioning from a conclusion, you will never arrive to truth – never! It is impossible.
Don’t start by a priori assumptions, don’t start by any belief; only then are you a true seeker. But everybody starts by a belief – somebody believes in the Bible, somebody else in the Koran; somebody believes in the Gita, and somebody in the Dhammapada. And they start by belief.
Belief means you don’t know, still you have taken something for granted. Now your whole effort will be to prove it right, it will become your ego trip. Each belief becomes an ego trip, you have to prove it right. If it is wrong, then you are wrong; if it is right, then you are right. And every person is nothing but a bag full of beliefs.
And remember, all beliefs are stupid. I am not saying that those beliefs are basically untrue – they may not be, they may be – but to believe is stupid. To know is intelligent. It may be that when you come to know, it may be the same thing that you were told by others to believe; but still to believe in it is wrong, and to know it, right – because once you believe in something that you have not known, you have already started gathering around yourself a darkness which will not help you to know, to see. You are already becoming knowledgeable. And knowing happens to those who are not knowledgeable, but innocent. Knowing happens to those eyes which are absolutely without the dust of knowledge.
The first thing Atisha says: Be impartial, start without any conclusion, start without any a priori belief. Start existentially, not intellectually; and these are two different dimensions, not only different but diametrically opposite.
Somebody can start his journey into love by studying about love, by going to the library, by looking in the Encyclopedia Britannica for what love is. This is an intellectual inquiry. He may gather much information, he may write a treatise, and some foolish university may give him a PhD but he knows nothing of love. Whatsoever he is writing is only intellectual, it is not experiential. And if it is not experiential, it is not true.
Truth is an experience, not a belief. Truth never comes by studying about it: truth has to be encountered, truth has to be faced. The person who studies about love is like the person who studies about the Himalayas by looking at the map of the mountains. The map is not the mountain! And if you start believing in the map, you will go on missing the mountain. If you become too much obsessed with the map, the mountain may be there just in front of you, but still you will not be able to see it.