At any moment you close your eyes, first you will see thoughts, a layer of thinking all around you, thoughts vibrating – one coming, another going – a crowd, a traffic. Remain silent for a few seconds, and suddenly you will see that thinking is no longer there but dreaming has started. You are dreaming that you have become the president of a country, or you have found a brick of gold on the road, or you have found a beautiful woman or a man, and suddenly you start projecting; dreams start functioning. If you continue dreaming for a long time, one moment will come when you will fall asleep – thinking, dreaming, sleep, and from sleep again to dreaming and thinking. This is how your whole life revolves. Real awareness is not known yet, and that real awareness is what Patanjali says will destroy ignorance – not knowledge, but awareness. We collect knowledge just to befool ourselves and others.
I have heard:
In a small school it happened that a school inspector said to the class, “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?”
One of the pupils, a lad called Billy Green, replied promptly, “Please sir, it was not me.”
The inspector was amazed at this show of ignorance and brought the matter up in the headmaster’s study at the end of the visit. “Do you know,” he said, “I asked the class, “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?” and young Billy Green said it was not him!”
The headmaster said, “Billy Green? Oh well… I must say that I have always found the lad to be honest and trustworthy, and if he says that it was not him, then it was not him.”
The inspector left the school without further comment, but lost no time in reporting the full sequence of events to the Ministry of Education in a written report. In due course, he received the following reply: “Dear Sir, Reference: The Walls of Jericho. This is a matter for the Ministry of Works, and your letter has been sent to them for their attention.”
But nobody wants to recognize a simple fact, that they don’t know. Everybody tries; whatsoever the question, everybody tries to answer. You should catch yourself red-handed many times if you try. Somebody asks something, somebody talks about something you don’t know, but you start commenting, advising, saying something or other so that you are not caught ignorant, so nobody thinks that you are ignorant. But the first beginning of awareness starts with the recognition that you are ignorant. Ignorance can be destroyed, but not without recognizing it.
When P. D. Ouspensky, the great disciple of George Gurdjieff, met his master for the first time, he was already a very famous, well-known man in the world. Gurdjieff was unknown, Ouspensky was known very much already. He had already written one of the best books written in this century, Tertium Organum. It is really a bold attempt. In fact, in this century no other man has tried such a bold speculation. With courage, Ouspensky has described his book as the third canon of thought: Tertium Organum. The first was written by Aristotle; the second was written by Bacon. And he said, “I write the third canon of thought.” He said, “The first and the second are nothing before the third. The third existed before the first.” It was really a bold attempt, and not just egoistic. The claim was almost true.