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To have knowledge is ignorance; to be free of knowledge is wisdom || Acharya Prashant, on Saint Rumi
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Do you think…

Do you think that I know what I’m doing. That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself? As much as a pen knows what it’s writing, or the ball can guess where it’s going next.


Acharya Prashant: (Reading the poem)

That is the state of the liberated one. We often think that the liberated one is a knower; that he knows a lot; that he has some special knowledge, that is the way we refer to him. *Gyani*— the knower! That again is just an image, a stereotype.

The liberated one is actually a non-knower. He knows nothing, he is totally free of knowledge, totally innocent of knowledge. The

The Gyani (knower) really has no Gyan (knowledge) . And you can be called a gyani only if you are totally free of *gyan . *

If you still have knowledge then you are just ignorant. To have knowledge is ignorance. To be free of knowledge is wisdom.

The Liberated one, as the verse says, knows nothing. He knows as little about his actions, as the pen knows what it is writing. The pen acts just like an instrument; the pen has no free will. The liberated one too, has no free will. He becomes just an instrument in the hands of the divine.

Not acting as per his decisions, not acting as per his convenience. He lets decisions happen through him. When decisions happen through you, they are spontaneous. When you decide then you weigh, you analyze, you criticize, you take time. The liberated one responds spontaneously.

So, the image of the liberated one, as an all knowing one, is a misleading image. In fact, the liberated one is first of all liberated of knowing anything. We find it important to know; we find it important to gather knowledge. The liberated one knows nothing. For him, there is no insecurity and hence no need to store knowledge. He lives in surrender, not in memories. Are you getting it?

Are you getting it?

To the ego, it is quite horrifying to become like the pen. The pen that writes but doesn’t really know what it is writing. We want to be the holder of the pen, we want to be the master of the pen, we want to know what is being written; especially if what is being written is our life story. We want to be the in charge of the story. Don’t we?

The liberated one knows nothing about the story that is being written through him. Others may later on, capture that story; others may later on, decorate that story, and turn it into a fable and a myth, even a religion. But he knows nothing; he is like a shooting star. Happy in his own dissolution and as he is dissolving he is turning into a streak of sharp light.

If you plan and live life as per your pleasures, likes, choices then you will remain what you are.

Do you think for one breath or half a breath – I belong to myself?

Surrender is the decision to not to belong to yourself. Surrender is the YES to belong to God, to belong to the Truth. Surrender is the realization that there is something more important than your own petty self. Remember, it is not a decision; it is a realization. You see that there is an immensity that deserves more respect than your limits do. That is surrender.

Then you say that “Why must I act responsible for myself? I would rather leave my welfare to the one who is really capable of providing me welfare.” And then you belong to somebody else. Then you can say that you are a lover who has united; or, you can say that you are a servant who is very close to the master.

Then you say that “When all this comes from You , when You created all this including all the mess that is there; then you have to be responsible for running all this. It’s your show, you run it; it’s your game, you play it; it’s your mess, you clean it. I will relax.” And that relaxation is effortless action. Inthat is beauty, in that is the Truth, in that is love, in that is life. Simple relaxation; not organized, not cultivated.

Simple relaxation.

Listener 1: Is it similar to free will?

AP: Free will, is in any case, a mirage. What you call as your own will is all conditioned will. The choices that you make for yourself, are all choices that have been embedded within you by several forces of evolution, biology, society, education, and environment. So, there is no way it can be called as free will.

When it is coming from somewhere else, how it can be freely yours? And when you act from the right center then there is free will. But, that is not you free will; that is free will of the free. So, whenever you say my freewill that is actually a meaningless statement.

The ego loves to talk of free will; the ego loves to talk of choices and preferences, “Oh! It must happen as per my liking.” What you call as your liking is not at all your liking. If you will pay attention to it you will find that you have been made to like something. And, now you have internalized that liking, you have started believing that it is you who actually likes.

Don’t you see that as an Indian one likes a particular food. As Europeans, one likes another kind of food. Now, how justified are you in saying that it is your liking? Were you born in India, would you have liked the same food? In India everybody likes football. Oh! Do they? What do we like here? Cricket! And, in Canada? Ice hockey! In Brazil? Australia? I won’t ask, because there too you like cricket a lot. Mars? Saturn? Do you have cricket there? Andromeda galaxy? Would you still like to say, “I love Cricket!”

What if you were born in Antarctica? The ball would freeze. Would you still like it? We don’t like to hear that, right? We are so particular about our choices. “It is important because I chose this.” And, there are so called wise men who tell us: choose with care, choose with wisdom. In wisdom, you do not choose at all; that is the only wisdom. But, you even have books on, and thick books on, “How to make right choices?” And they have all kinds of algorithms, and processes, and check boxes.

See, to take any of what I am saying you need to have a little courage, a little faith. If you start feeling afraid on every little thing, then you will only be doubtful of whatever I say. What I am saying is not for the chicken-hearted, that’s why I make enough space for people to leave; because, not everyone would take this. People are very wedded to their insecurities, and their pettiness. They don’t want to take the Truth. It’s beautiful, divine, relaxing, comfortable and everything. But to the ego, it looks scary; it runs away. And you cannot take truth seriously.

And you cannot take the Truth seriously.

Remember that you are a man of Truth only if Truth makes you smile.

If the Truth makes you go aghast like this, Aghh! *(makes a shocking face), i*f Truth is not funny then it is not Truth at all. If it doesn’t make you laugh then it is not Truth at all.

In seriousness you only protect yourself. *(Imitating) “*I will go through the recording a few times. I will sit over it, I will appoint a consultant. I will refer my family Guru — my pet master!”

You either say an instant yes to it; it’s like a love affair. You don’t deliberate over it; you don’t chew it. It’s an instantaneous Yes! “Of course yes!”

I have come here and I have been surprised. Why is the audience so serious? And why don’t they ever open their mouth? It is as if they have come to test, “Alright let me gather something from here, something from there. Go to the next shop; take, buy, compare, and leave. And then fly back home.”

L1: Can you speak to us about the flow of inspiration. Although, I am not sure about how to quote it with words; we look at these things, these poems and it’s coming from a place.

AP: But, are you saying that the seriousness is an inspired seriousness? No, that’s not what you are saying.

L1: No, am saying it’s a true inspiration, as opposed to acting. So, you might see someone sit down to right some poetry, or someone’s thought poetry.

AP: Most of us are too identified with the shopper. We come to this place as we have come to a ‘mega spiritual mall’ .

Mega spiritual mall: one shop after the other, goodies on sale, Little Buddha, Mahavira’s brain, somebody’s little finger, somebody’s nails, bell of liberation, the pee of peace, acrobatics, gymnastics, tabla , harmonium; everything is on sale. And you feel like privileged buyers. And you are looking at everything like this: “Yes, what do you have to offer? Show!” You come and sit here and that’s the way you look at the speaker. Yes? “So, what’s on display here?”

To hell with the shoppers.

This is not a shop.

Truth has no business selling itself.

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