This is a very strange sutra. ‘Knowledge’ has many meanings.
One, as long as you are filled with the knowledge that “I am”, you will remain in ignorance, because, the very sense of the “I”, the ego, is ignorance. The day you are filled with the soul, the ‘am-ness’ will remain however, the ‘I-ness’ will disappear.
From “I am”, the ‘I’ will drop and simply ‘am’ will remain. You can experiment with this.
Sometimes sit quietly under a tree and look within yourself, see where is the ‘I’.
You won’t find it anywhere.
The ‘am’ you will of course find everywhere in the existence, and never the ego. The ego is your creation, it is of your making, it is false, untrue. There is nothing more inauthentic than the ego itself. It comes out handy. Although it is required in the world, as such it nowhere has any place in truth.
So, there is this knowledge that ‘I am’, which is the cause of bondage. The awareness that I have of the ‘am-ness’ is pure and limitless. When you say ‘am’, can there be any distinction between your ‘am-ness’ and the am-ness of a tree? Would there be any difference between your am-ness and my am-ness? When you only are, then you, the rivers, the mountains, the trees all become one. However, as soon as you say “I”, you become separate from the whole. The moment you say “I”, you break away, you alienate yourself, you disconnect yourself from the existence. Am-ness is Brahman and “I” is man’s state of ignorance. When you know simply that you are, then there is no separate center within you. Then you become one with the existence. Then you become like a wave which is lost in the ocean. Right now you are like the wave which frozen into ice, which has broken itself away from the ocean.
KNOWLEDGE IS BONDAGE
— the knowledge that “I am.”
The other kind of bondage is all the knowledge that you have gathered from outside, which you have stolen from the scriptures, the knowledge which you have borrowed from the great Masters, the knowledge which is stored in your memory — all of this is bondage. You won’t be able to free yourself from it. That’s why you cannot find a man more enslaved than the pundit.
All kinds of people come to me — all kinds of patients. No one among them is more afflicted with cancer than the pundit, the scholar. There is no cure for him — he is beyond treatment. The trouble with him is that he knows. Hence, he can neither listen nor understand. Before you say anything to him he has already understood the meaning of it; before he has heard you, he would have formed his own theory. A mind filled with words is incapable of knowing. He knows so much without knowing, because all his knowledge is borrowed. If knowledge could be attained through scriptures, everyone would have attained it.
Knowledge is attained when a person has become silent, when he has dropped all the scriptures, when he returns to the world all the knowledge which he has borrowed from others, when he goes on a search of that which is his original existence — the one which he has not attained from other people.
Try to understand this a little.
You have received your body from your parents. You have nothing in your body that is actually yours. One half of it is a contribution from your father, and the other half from your mother. Then the body is made of the food you eat every day. And further, the body contains the five elements — the air, the fire, and so on. You can’t claim any of these as yours. Your consciousness consists of neither of these elements, nor have you obtained it from your parents. Whatsoever you know, you have learned it from your schools and universities, you have heard it from your scriptures, you have obtained it from your gurus.
All of that is a part of your body, not of your soul.
Your soul is that which you have obtained from no one. So your true nature consists of that which you have received from nobody — neither from your mother, nor father, society, guru, or scripture. Until you have discovered that pure element which is innately yours, you won’t be able to realize your true being.
So knowledge is the bondage because it doesn’t allow you to reach up to your true nature, your true being. It is the knowledge that has divided mankind.
You call yourself a Hindu, or a Mohammedan. Have you ever thought why you are a Hindu or a Mohammedan? What is the difference between a Hindu and a Mohammedan really? Can a physician ever find out on the basis of a blood test whether the blood belongs to a Hindu or a Mohammedan? Can anyone determine whether a particular bone has been taken from the body of a Hindu or a Mohammedan? There is no way. You won’t know anything by investigating bodies because the bodies of both — the Hindu and the Mohammedan — are made of the same five elements. However, if you examine their minds you will surely know who is a Hindu and who is a Mohammedan. For the simple reason that their scriptures are different, their principles are different, their words are different.
The difference between the two consists of words.
You are a Hindu because you received one kind of knowledge which is labelled as “Hindu”. Somebody is a Jaina because he received a different kind of knowledge which is named as Jaina. All the differences between you, all the walls, are the walls of knowledge — and all your knowledge is borrowed. Raise a Moslem child in a Hindu household, he will grow to be a Hindu. He will wear the sacred thread like a Brahmin does. He will quote from the Vedas and the Upanishads. Similarly, let a Hindu child be brought up in a Muslim household, he will begin reciting the verses of Koran.
Knowledge binds you. It makes a wall around you.
It makes you fight your fellow beings and it brings malice, enmity in your life. Just think for a while, if you were not brought up as a Hindu, a Mohammedan, Jaina, or a Parsi, what would you do?
You would grow up as a human being — without any walls around you. There are about three hundred religions in the world — three hundred prisons. Each man is made to be locked up in one or the other prison as soon as he is born. And the priests try their best to have their control over the child as early as possible. They call it “religious education,” yet there is nothing more irreligious than this. The child is caught young, before he is seven, because after that it would be difficult each day to exercise control over the child. If the child were to gain even a little bit of understanding, he will begin to raise questions. And the pundits have absolutely no answers to the childs questions. The pundit can satisfy only the idiots. The less intelligent a person is, the more quickly he is satisfied by the pundit. He asks a question, and the answer is given to him. You ask a pundit, “Who created the world?” He answers, “God created the world.” You come home happy and satisfied without asking him, “Who created God?” The pundit would have been annoyed had you asked this second question because even he doesn’t know the answer to it. The answer is not given in the book. And it is a bothersome question — who created God?
You can go on and on asking questions on the same line endlessly no matter what the answer may be. If you look at it closely, you’ll find that your first question was not answered at all — the pundit merely satisfied your curiosity. Seeing you are not so intelligent. Children are innocent. Their faculties of reasoning and thinking are not developed as yet. They are not in a position to ask questions. Whatever garbage you may dump into their brains, they will accept it. Children are open to everything, because they feel whatever is given to them must be right. A child can’t raise many questions. In order to raise a question one requires some degree of maturity. That’s why all religions grab the children and virtually strangle their spirits. This strangling looks very beautiful, very ornamental. One has the Bible hanging in his neck, another his samayasar, while someone has the Koran in his neck, and someone else has the Geeta around his neck. These ties are so endearing that it requires a tremendous courage for one to get rid of them.
And whenever you will try to drop them, one danger will come facing you:
doing away with these books would mean you know nothing,
only the books contain all the knowledge. Hence you become anxious to guard these scriptures with your life. This is the only way you can hide your ignorance. It would be a very simple matter if one could do away with his ignorance just by hiding it. The fact is, ignorance grows more when you hide it. It is like hiding a wound. Hiding a wound won’t cure it; instead, it will grow inside deeper and deeper. And the pus will spread throughout within the body.
Shiva says: KNOWLEDGE IS BONDAGE
Any knowledge — whether learned from somebody or borrowed from somewhere — the knowledge is the cause of bondage. Hence, drop all that which you have acquired from others.
Go in search of that which you have received from no one.
Set out in search of the face that is authentically yours.
There is a spring of consciousness hidden within you, which no one has given to you.
It is your very own nature, your own treasure, your very soul.
The Great Path
Talks given from 11/9/74 to 20/9/74
Original in Hindi
Year published: 1994
Translation of “Shiva Sutra”