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Part One - Chapter 11

Part One - Chapter 11

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Life Ahead

You will remember that we have been talking about fear. Now, is not fear responsible for the accumulation of knowledge? This is a difficult subject, so let us see if we can go into it, let us consider it very carefully.

Human beings accumulate and worship knowledge, not only scientific but so-called spiritual knowledge. They think that knowledge is so important in life - knowledge of what has happened, and of what is going to happen. This whole process of accumulating information, worshipping knowledge - does it not arise from the background of fear? We are afraid that without knowledge we would be lost, we would not know how to conduct ourselves. So, through reading what the sages have said, through other people's beliefs and experiences, and also through our own experiences, we gradually build up a background of knowledge which becomes tradition; and behind this tradition we take refuge. We think this knowledge or tradition is essential, and that without it we would be lost, we would not know what to do.

Now, when we talk about knowledge, what do we mean by that word? What is it that we know? What do you really know, when you come to consider the knowledge you have accumulated? At a certain level, in science, engineering, and so on, knowledge is important; but beyond that, what is it that we know?

Have you ever considered this process of accumulating knowledge? Why is it that you study, why do you pass examinations? Knowledge is necessary at a certain level, is it not? Without a knowledge of mathematics and other subjects, one could not be an engineer or a scientist. Social relationship is built upon such knowledge, and we would not be able to earn a livelihood without it. But beyond that kind of knowledge, what do we know? Beyond that, what is the nature of knowledge?

What do we mean when we say that knowledge is necessary to find God, or that knowledge is necessary to understand oneself, or that knowledge is essential to find a way through all the turmoils of life? Here we mean knowledge as experience; and what is this experience? What is it that we know through experience? Is not this knowledge used by the ego, by the 'me', to strengthen itself?

Say, for instance, that I have achieved a certain social standing. This experience, with its feelings of success, of prestige, of power, gives me a certain sense of assurance, of comfort. So the knowledge of my success the knowledge that I am somebody, that I have position, power, strengthens the 'me', the ego, does it not?

Have you not noticed how knowledge-puffed the pundits are, or how knowledge gives to your father, your mother, your teacher the attitude, 'I have experienced more than you have; I know and you do not'? So knowledge, which is merely information, gradually becomes the sustenance of vanity, the nourishment of the ego, the 'me'. For the ego cannot exist without this or some other form of parasitical dependence.

The scientist uses his knowledge to feed his vanity, to feel that he is somebody, just as the pundit does. Teachers, parents, gurus - they all want to be somebody in this world, so they use knowledge as a means to that end, to fulfil that desire; and when you go behind their words, what is it that they really know? They know only what the books contain, or what they have experienced; and their experiences depend on the background of their conditioning. Like them, most of us are filled with words, with information which we call knowledge, and without it we are lost; so there is always fear lurking behind this screen of words, of information.

Where there is fear, there is no love; and knowledge without love destroys us. That is what is happening in the world at the present time. For example, we now have sufficient knowledge to feed human beings throughout the world; we know how to feed, clothe and shelter mankind, but we are not doing it because we are divided into nationalistic groups, each with its own egotistic pursuits. If we really had the desire to stop war we could do so; but we have not that desire, and for the same reason. So knowledge without love becomes a means of destruction. Until we understand this, merely to pass examinations and achieve positions of prestige and power inevitably leads to deterioration, to corruption, to the slow withering away of human dignity.

It is obviously essential to have knowledge at certain levels, but it is even more important to see how knowledge is used egotistically, for selfish purposes. Observe yourself and you will see how experience is employed by the mind as a means of self-expansion, as a means of power and prestige. Watch the grown-ups and you will see how they hanker after position and cling to their success. They want to build a nest of safety for themselves, they want power, prestige, authority - and most of us, in various ways, are after the same thing. We don't want to be ourselves, whatever we are; we want to be somebodies. There is a difference, surely between being and wanting to be. The desire to be or to become is continued and strengthened through knowledge, which is used for self-aggrandizement.

It is important for all of us, as we are maturing, to go into these problems and understand them, so that we do not respect a person merely because he has a title or a high position, or is supposed to have a great deal of knowledge. Actually, we know very little. We may have read many books, but very few have direct experience of anything. It is the direct experiencing of reality, of God, that is of vital importance; and for that, there must be love.