Nature Of Knowledge – In Gita Verse 18.42 Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness – these are the natural qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.

According to Krishna, one of the most fundamental questions that has always faced humanity and that will always be there encountering every human being that is ever going to be born, is the nature of knowledge. What is real knowing? Only through knowing does one attain liberation, only through knowing does one come to know oneself, only through knowing is the truth revealed.

Man is born in ignorance. The darkness is tremendous. Naturally, the first question that any intelligent being will ask is how to find light. What is light? We are born in darkness not knowing who we are. What more darkness can there be? We are not even aware of who we are, from where we come, to where we are going. We are just groping somehow, drifting somehow. We are accidental.

We don’t yet have a destiny. We are unconscious. We have not yet attained the light of inner being which can enlighten our path. In this darkness, if failure happens, it is natural. In this darkness, if frustration happens, what more can you expect? In this darkness, if you only die and never live, it seems logical.

So the fundamental question is: What is the nature of knowledge? What is real knowledge? Man knows many things and yet remains ignorant. Man knows many things but the fundamentals are missing. It is as if he has made a big building and the foundation is missing. Man knows much, the knowledge has grown every day, and yet deep down man remains as ignorant as ever. We must have misunderstood the very nature of knowledge.

Let me tell you an anecdote from Buddha’s life to understand the nature of knowledge.

Buddha was passing through a village of BRAHMINS. They gathered together and they insulted him very much. He listened silently. They pushed and pushed the buttons but nothing happened.

So they become a little worried and embarrassed – when you insult somebody and he stands there unperturbed, you become embarrassed. He seems to be beyond you. In fact, you cannot reach him because he is at such a height.

They asked, ‘Are you listening? Why are you standing silently? We are insulting and condemning you. Have you gone dumb? Have you gone deaf? Can’t you speak? Can’t you hear what we are saying?’ Buddha said, ‘I can feel, I can see your worries, your embarrassment, but I am sorry. You should have come ten years before if you wanted me to react. Now it is too late. Now these buttons don’t work. I have gone beyond.’

It is as if a child is playing with a toy and you snatch the toy away and he cries and weeps. One day he will not be a child and then if you snatch his toy away he will not cry and weep. In fact, he will give it to you, he will present it to you and he will say, ‘You can take it, you can have it. I am finished with it.’

That’s what Buddha said. He said, ‘It is too late. I am finished with it. I have gone beyond.’

This is knowing, real knowing. Knowing is a qualitative change in your being. It is a transformation of your being, it is a metanoia: you move higher, the altitude changes. With knowledge, the so – called knowledge, you remain the same except that you go on holding more. You know more but you remain the same.

So the first thing to be understood is that knowledge and knowing are different. Knowledge is information, knowing is understanding. Knowledge is gathered from the outside, knowing is a growth inside. Knowledge is borrowed, knowing is yours, authentically yours. Knowledge is learnt, knowing is not learnt from anybody.

You have to become more alert so that you can see more, so that you can feel more, so that you can be more. Knowing is being, knowledge is just a peripheral accumulation.

Another thing. When you are a man of knowledge, when you have hoarded much knowledge, your ego will be strengthened. You will think, ‘I know so much.’ And the ego is one of the barriers towards reality, it is not a bridge, it disconnects, it does not connect. When you are a man of knowing, ego disappears – because a man of knowing comes to know that there is nothing you can know. How can you know? Life is so mysterious, so tremendously mysterious, there is no way to know it really.

If you can know only yourself, that is more than enough, more than one can expect. If a small light starts burning in your heart and your inner being becomes lighted, that is more than enough. And that is what is needed. In that light you become aware that reality is an ultimate mystery – that’s what we mean when we use the word ‘God’. ‘God’ means exactly what ‘nature’ means with only one difference. In the concept of ‘nature’ it is implied that if it is not known up to now it will be known later on – but it can be known. It is knowable. That is the intrinsic meaning of the world ‘nature’.

Krishna says a man of knowing understands the mystery of life. So they have qualities of peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness.


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