Ignorance misguides, Knowledge misguides more
Osho on Naropa
Naropa was the Buddhist tantra master and an enlightened being. He is well known for his Six Dharmas of Nāropa which are a set of advanced Tibetan Buddhist tantric practices compiled by the Indian mahasiddhas Tilopa and Nāropa and passed on to the Tibetan translator-yogi Marpa.
Naropa was the most intelligent scholar of Nalanda of his times. From there he heard the name of tilopa and went for his search. Tilopa was also waiting for a disciple like Naropa. He made the foundation of naropa’s spiritual journey.
Osho says There was a mystic in Tibet called Naropa. Many people used to come to him and they were puzzled, because it was well known that he was totally merged in the divine and they never heard Naropa ever remembering God’s name. His disciples often asked Naropa, “People say that you are merged in the divine, but how come you never remember God?” Naropa is said to have replied, “How am I to remember when I never forget? And the day I start remembering God, know that Naropa has fallen. The day I remember, the day I call God’s name, you may understand that Naropa has fallen, that he has forgotten and has fallen asleep. When I do not fall asleep, when I never forget God, how am I to remember then?
THE state of ignorance is the cause of all delusions, of all unrealities, of all appearances, but to know more is not the state of knowledge. Ignorance is the cause, but knowledge is not the remedy — knowledge in the sense of knowledgeability. You can know more and more and more, but you remain the same. Knowledge becomes an addiction. You go on adding it but the being to which you add it remains the same. You know more, but you are not more. And the root cause of ignorance can be dissolved only when you are more, when your being is stronger, when your being is powerful, when your being has awakened. The root cause of all suffering is ignorance, but knowledge is not the remedy — awakening is the remedy. If you don’t understand this subtle distinction, first, you are lost in ignorance, and then you will be lost — and lost more so — in knowledge. In the Upanishads there is one of the most radical statements ever uttered. The statement is that in ignorance people are lost, but in knowledge they are lost in a deeper way. Ignorance misguides, knowledge misguides more.
Ignorance is not absence of knowledge. If it was absence of knowledge then things would have been very, very easy — and cheap. You can borrow knowledge; you cannot borrow being. You can even steal knowledge; you cannot steal being. You have to grow into it. Remember this as a criterion: that unless you grow in something it is never yours. When you grow, only then something belongs to you. You may possess something, but don’t be misguided by the possession. The possession remains separate — it can be taken away from you. Only your being cannot be taken away from you. So unless knowing happens into your being, ignorance cannot be dissolved.
Ignorance is not absence of knowledge; ignorance is absence of awareness. Ignorance is a sort of sleepiness, a sort of slumber, a sort of hypnosis; as if you are walking in sleep, doing things in deep. You are not aware what you are doing. You are not a light; your whole being is dark.
You can know about light, but that knowledge about light will never become light. On the contrary, it will become a hindrance towards light, because when you know too much about light you forget that the light has not happened to you. You are deceived by your own knowledge.
It is as if you have been living in a dark cell. You have heard about light but you have not seen it. And how can you hear about light? It can only be seen. Ears are not the medium to know light: eyes are. And you have heard about light. And hearing again and again about light you have started to feel that you know light. You know about; but to know about is not to know. You have heard. How can you hear light? It will be as if someone says that he has seen music. It will be absurd. Hearing about light, the mind becomes more and more greedy. You consult scriptures. You go and seek wise, old men. You may even come across somebody who has seen, but the moment he says something about that, to you it becomes the heard. In India the oldest scriptures are known as shruti, that which has been heard. That’s beautiful. That’s really beautiful. How can truth be heard? And all the old scriptures are called shrutis, and smritis. Shruti means “the heard,” and smriti means “the remembered.” You have heard and you remember. You have memorized it, but how can you know truth by hearing? You have to feel it. In fact you have to live it.
The man living in the cave, in darkness, can collect many facts about light. He can almost become a great pundit. You can consult him and you can rely on him. He will say everything that has ever been said about light, but he will live all the same in darkness. And he cannot help you towards light; he himself is blind. Jesus says again and again, “The blind are leading the blind.’ Kabir says, “If you are suffering, become alert; you must have been led by a blind man. If blind people lead blind people, they fall in the well,” says Kabir. And you are all in the well of suffering; you must have heard too much about truth; you must have heard too much about God. Thousands of pundits continuously preaching God — churches, temples, scholars — continuously talking “about.”
God is not a talk. It is an experience. Ignorance cannot be dissolved by knowledge. It can be dissolved only by awareness. Knowledge you can go on collecting in the dream; but it is part of the dream, and the dream is part of your sleep. Somebody has to shake you. Somebody has to shock you. Somebody has to bring you out of your sleep; otherwise you can go on and on. Sleep is alcoholic. Ignorance is alcoholic; it is a drug. You have to be pulled out of it.
I will tell you one anecdote I have always loved. It is about Siddha Naropa, the disciple Of Tilopa. It happened before Naropa found his Master, Tilopa. It happened before he himself became enlightened. And it is a must for every seeker; it has to happen to everybody. So whether it happened to Naropa or not is not the point — it is a must on the journey. Unless it happens, enlightenment is not possible. So I don’t know historically whether it happened or not. Psychologically I am certain, absolutely certain, it happened because nobody can move without it further into the beyond. Naropa was a great scholar, a great pundit. There are stories that he was a great vice-chancellor of a great university — ten thousand disciples of his own. One day he was sitting surrounded by his disciples. All around him were scattered thousands of scriptures — ancient, very ancient, rare. Suddenly he fell asleep, must have been tired, and he has a vision. I call it a vision, not a dream, because it is no ordinary dream. It is so significant, to call it a dream won’t be just; it was a vision.
He saw a very, very old, ugly, horrible woman — a hag. Her ugliness was so much that he started trembling in his sleep. It was so nauseating he wanted to escape — but where to escape, where so go? He was caught, as if hypnotized by the old hag. Her body was nauseating, but her eyes were like magnets.
She asked, “Naropa, what are you doing?”
And he said, “I am studying.”
“What are you studying?” asked the old woman.
He said, “Philosophy, religion, epistemology, language, grammar, logic.”
The old woman asked again, “Do you understand them?”
Naropa said, “Of… Yes, I understand them.”
The woman asked again, “Do you understand the word, or the sense?”
This was asked for the first time. Thousands of questions had been asked to Naropa in his life. He was a great teacher — thousands of students always asking, inquiring — but nobody had asked this: whether you understand the word, or the sense. And the woman’s eyes were so penetrating that it was impossible to lie — she will find out. Before her eyes Naropa felt completely naked, nude, transparent. Those eyes were going to the very depth of his being and it was impossible to lie. To anybody else he would have said. “Of course, I understand the sense,” but to this woman, this horrible-looking woman, he couldn’t speak the lie; he had to say the truth.
He said, “Yes, I understand the words.”
The woman was very happy. She started dancing and laughing.
Thinking that the woman has become so happy…. And because of her happiness her ugliness was transformed; she was no longer so ugly; a subtle beauty started coming out of her being. Thinking “I have made her so happy. Why not make her a little more happy?” he said, “And yes, I understand the sense also.”
The woman stopped laughing. She stopped dancing. She started crying and weeping, and all her ugliness was back — a thousand fold more.
Naropa said, “Why? Why are you weeping and crying? And why were you laughing and dancing before?”
The woman said, “I was dancing and laughing and was happy because a great scholar like you didn’t lie. But now I am crying and weeping because you have lied to me. I know — and you know — that you don’t understand the sense.”
The vision disappeared and Naropa was transformed. He escaped from the university. He never again touched a scripture in his life. He became completely ignorant: he understood that just by understanding the word, whom are you befooling; and just by understanding the word you have become an ugly old hag. Knowledge is ugly. And if you go near scholars you will find them stinking — of knowledge — dead.
A man of wisdom, a man of understanding, has a freshness about him, a fragrant life — totally different from a pundit, from a man of knowledge. One who understands the sense becomes beautiful; one who only understands the word becomes ugly.
And the woman was nobody outside: it was just a projection of the inner part. It was Naropa’s own being, through knowledge became ugly. Just this much understanding that “I don’t understand the sense,” and the ugliness was going to be transformed immediately into a beautiful phenomenon.
Naropa went in search, because now scriptures won’t help. Now a living Master is needed. Then after long journeys he came across Tilopa. Tilopa was also in search of this man, because when you have something, you want to share; a compassion arises. The Buddhist term for compassion is karuna. The English word does not carry exactly the same sense — it cannot carry. The word karuna is very, very meaningful. It comes from the same Sanskrit root as kriya. Kriya means action. Kriya and karuna — kriya means action, karuna means compassion — they both come from the same root kra. The Buddhist term karuna means “compassion in action.” And that is the difference between sympathy and compassion; when you are in sympathy there is no need for action — you simply show your sympathy and the thing is finished. Compassion is active — you do something. When you are really in compassion you will have to do something. How can you just be in sympathy? Sympathy will look so pale, so cold. Compassion is warm. Compassion means it has to be active.
When a man knows, compassion arises. Tilopa had known. He had come face to face with the ultimate: and now compassion arose. And he started seeking and searching for somebody who’ll be ready to receive… because you cannot throw this knowing of the ultimate before those who will not understand. A receptive heart, a feminine heart is needed. A disciple has to be feminine because the Master is to pour, and the disciple is just to allow. They met and Tilopa said, “Naropa, now I will say everything that I have been waiting to say. I will say everything because of you, Naropa. You have come; now I can unburden myself.”
This vision of Naropa is very significant. This vision is a must. Unless you feel that knowledge is useless you will never be in search of wisdom. You will carry the false coin thinking that this is the real treasure. You have to become aware that knowledge is a false coin — it is not knowing, it is not understanding. At the most it is intellectual — the word has been understood but the sense lost. Once you understand this you will throw all your knowledge and you will escape in search of somebody who knows, because only with somebody who knows — heart to heart, being to being, the transfer happens. But if the disciple is already a man of knowledge the transfer is impossible, because the knowledge will become the wall. I can see a subtle wall around you always. Whenever you come to me I see whether I can approach you or not, whether you are approachable or not. If I see a very thick wall of knowledge it seems almost impossible to approach you; I will have to wait. If I can find even a small crack I enter from there. But scared people, full of fear — they don’t even leave a crack; they make a solid wall. They make a citadel around them of knowledge, knowing, concepts — abstract words. Futile! Just noise! In fact a nuisance, but you believe in them. So this is the first thing to be understood: knowledge is not knowledge.
And only that knowledge which is not knowledge but wisdom, understanding, knowing, can cut the roots of ignorance.
Remember the word “awareness.” Just as in the morning you become, by and by, alert and you come out of the sleep and the sleepiness falls down, disappears; the same happens again: you come out of your slumber; by and by your eyes open, you start seeing, your heart becomes available, your being open; and immediately, you are no longer the same person you were while asleep. Have you ever observed, in the morning, when awake, you become a totally different person — you are not the same who was asleep? Have you observed, in sleep you become a totally different person — in sleep you do things you cannot even imagine doing while you are awake — in sleep you believe in things you cannot believe while you are awake? In sleep every sort of absurdity is believed. While you are awake you laugh at your own foolishness, at your own dreams.
The same happens when you finally awake. Then, the whole world that you had lived up to that moment becomes part of a dream, a great dream. That’s why Hindus go on saying the world is maya: the stuff it is made of is dream; it is not real.
Awake! And you will find all those phantoms that surrounded you have disappeared. And a totally different vision of existence becomes available — that is freedom. Freedom is freedom from illusions. Freedom is freedom from sleep. Freedom is freedom from all that is not and appears to be there. To come to the real is to come to home; to wander in unreality is to be in the world.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 5
Chapter title: Awareness, not knowledge
3 July 1975 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Nanak, Meher Baba, Patanjali, Swami Ram Teerth, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Socrates, Tilopa, Naropa, Zarathustra, Nagarjuna and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Sermons in Stones
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- The Hidden Splendor
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The New Dawn
- The Sword and The Lotus
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 1
- The Path of Love
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 5