Question: Sir, for some time now, throughout the day, I see that I really don’t know anything. What is ‘knowing’?
Speaker: Yes, yes. This is it. This is it. This, this sincerity, this try.
Do you see that two paradoxical activities are happening right now, at the same time? On one hand, you are prepared to admit that we live our lives in total ignorance. We know nothing about what is happening but we live as if everything is normal. As if just everything that is happening, is happening with our permission, with our understanding, with our comprehension, while we know not even an iota.
So this is one part of the happening. The other part of the happening is – the confidence that you have. Were you not sure that you could know, would you have asked this question? And is that not paradoxical, for someone who has discovered that she is not knowing anything, to simultaneously, parallely, at that very moment ask, “What is knowing?”?
Are you with me on this?
Listeners: Yes, Sir.
Speaker: I am saying, “I am X years old,” and this X is a definite number, is a significant number. It may be twenty, thirty or seventy. “And for twenty, thirty, seventy years, I have not really known anything. And yet I rise and say…”
“On one hand, I am admitting that my life has been a colossal story in ignorance. And at the very moment of recognition, I am also saying – ‘What is ‘knowing’?’”
Listener: What is ‘knowing’?
Speaker: What is ‘knowing’? Now do see what is happening? The one who is telling you that you are a failure, is also empowering you so much, that boldly you are asking, “What is it then? I can know!”
Usually when you see somebody dejected, defeated, having received failures multiple, successive times, do you find him overflowing with confidence to try once more? Does that happen?
Speaker: No, that does not happen. Not generally. But this magic – this is ‘knowing’. To recognise that – I do not know, is the surest knowing. One can call it – the beginning and end of knowing.
Do not strain yourself. Just take your knowledge lightly.
We are full of knowledge. Once you realise that all this knowledge, is actually worthless, not really central or essential, then do not try for more knowledge, which is better than this knowledge. That is the mistake that we do. We say, “The knowledge that I have so far is insufficient or inadequate. So there must be some superior knowledge. Let me get that.” No, no, no. No superior knowledge exists. People have gone to the extent of talking about the ‘knowledge’ of Truth, the ‘knowledge’ of Brahman, the ‘knowledge’ of Atman. Stupidity!
All knowledge is just knowledge, and at the same level. Have knowledge, play with it, it’s a casual thing.
So when you say, “What is water? What is glass? What is this instrument? What is this wall?” there can be an objective answer. And whatever that objective answer would be, it would go into your memory and become more knowledge. But then you ask, “What is ‘knowing’?” then in terms of words, in terms of knowledge, it is just a cessation, a negation, a certain lightness.
To really know is to take knowledge lightly.
You will never be able to say that, “This is my ‘knowing’.” ‘Knowing’ is not to be expressed in a sentence. And even if you actually do know, whenever you will try to express ‘knowing’ in words, the expression will appear a little foolish, as is my expression right now.
You know, there is something that is not meant to be expressed in words, but you are expressing it. So whatever you say, is a little unintelligible, incomprehensible, it can be so easily shredded. Argument can defeat it. You can get up and say, “You know, all this is nonsensical, because this can be proven this way, this can be proven this way, this can be proven…” And whosoever will be trying to reject me through argument, unfortunately, will succeed.
Whatever I am saying, can be defeated by your mind and your argument so easily, because it was never meant to become words, it was never meant to become knowledge; it was never to reach you in this form. It is always meant to arise from within, not really come through the sensory route.
When it comes through the sensory route then it requires your own participation and acceptance. Then it’s just a knock. It’s just a knock. You have to do the real work. It’s a reminder. The reminder cannot do it for you. I can only just knock, and say, “It is not this way.” But I cannot really tell what it really is.
But I have to. So…
Forget about telling others. Do not attempt to tell even yourself what you know. The wise man finds it wise to remain ignorant of his wisdom. He does not ever know what he knows, neither does he try. It is only when the situation arises that That which he knows, springs up – all of a sudden. He did not dial it, he did not call it, he did not summon it; it comes from somewhere. All that he knows is, that It will come, and that is called as ‘surrender of the mind’.
Are you getting this?
So I do not know what I know, but when you will ask me a question, I will respond. From where? I do not know. Neither do I want to know. In fact, it is terrible when I already know, what I know. It is even more terrible when I already know what you know, and what you would ask. And it is so beautiful when I do not know what you know, and hence what you would say, and I do not know what I would say – therein lies a certain freshness, and that freshness is rejuvenating. And then you are young, really young. You are alive, you cannot die.
So, remain ignorant. Remain ignorant. Remain ignorant – “I do not know.” Life will call for a response, and then that which you are, and that which is your ‘knowing’, will come without calling. It is so Intelligent, it arises on its own. “Cometh the moment…”, have you heard that? “Cometh the man.” That’s what it is.
I have not stocked it, not reserved it. It is not in my inventory, I do not know whether it is there or not, but let the occasion arise, let the challenge come. It comes, I am confident it comes. This confidence is called ‘Faith’.
I do not whether you are there, but I very well know that when I will need you, you will come. From where? I do not know, I do not want to know. If I think, then I’ll be afraid. If I start figuring out where you are, and whether you can reach me, then I’ll be even more afraid. I do not want to think, not because I want to avoid thinking, not because I am afraid of thinking, but because I know that ‘thinking’ is not the right instrument.
It is scary, is it not? When you think about it, it is so difficult to live that way. You want guarantees, don’t you? You want to keep feeling your pocket. You want to be assured that there is your wallet here, that there is your mobile phone here. But existence does not operate this way. There is no mobile phone here, you are totally empty. But when you need it, it comes.
From where? From where? From where?
Listener: You do not know.
Speaker: Neither do I know, nor do I want to know. All that I know is – that when I’ll really need it, it will come. This is ‘knowing’, this is ‘knowing’. You already know and all that you know comes into action, starts dancing, when the moment arrives, when the challenge comes, when the response is needed.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga‘ session held at Ramana Kendra, New Delhi. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at: I have been living in ignorance. How do I start living in knowing?
Advait in Everyday Life
Advait has since long been revered as the crown jewel of all spiritual philosophies. However, there are very few books, if any at all, that practically demonstrate the presence, applications, methods and benefits of living as per the golden teaching of Advait-Vedanta.
This book is a much needed and rare attempt to bring spirituality and philosophical teachings to everyday life. The author’s genius lies in being delightfully able to bridge the abstract world of theorizations and principles with day-to-day circumstances, happenings, emotions and relationships.