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Let Us Be Gods-Part V
Courtesy: The Vedanta Kesary, English monthly from R K Math, Chennai
Swami Vivekananda used to emphasize these things. He himself was a great Advaitin. Advaitin means nondualist. He believed that everything was divine. He said, 'The suffering of man comes because he is conscious of 'jati.' 'Jati' means difference, difference between one and another. And unless a person has given up the idea of 'jati,' or sense of difference and separateness, he can never have salvation. Never can he attain to that highest state in which he will realize his fulfillment, and in which he will be beyond all kinds of difficulties and unhappiness and sufferings. You understand this only when you realize there is only one thing, one reality, one being. If we see there are different things, that is our wrong perception. And no wonder we perceive things wrongly, because, we are, after all, in a state of ignorance.
If you ask: 'How do you know that we are in a state of ignorance?' We have only to ask ourselves how much we know, and we shall be astonished to find how fully we are lacking in knowledge about everything. We do not even know ourselves. So if ignorance is so strong in us and so abundant, what is the wonder that our thought and our experiences should be wrong? And that is exactly what has happened to us. Therefore, if you start with the idea that what you now think and perceive is right, and that the only thing wanted is a little polishing here, a little correction there, you are entirely mistaken.
Spiritual knowledge is the highest knowledge. That is the knowledge that brings you eternal satisfaction.
You are so full of ignorance in your present state that everything you think, everything you perceive, is wrong. I am of course speaking from the standpoint of highest knowledge; spiritual knowledge is the highest knowledge. That is the knowledge that brings you eternal satisfaction. It is not a knowledge that is good only for certain circumstances, and not good beyond those circumstances, or for a time, and not beyond that time. No–– that kind of knowledge we have when we study in schools and colleges, for example, when we study science and philosophy and literature and art and all these things. These are true for a time under certain conditions. These are not true eternally, and these are not true under all conditions.
Spiritual knowledge alone is so true, and so I am speaking from that point of view. And I say, in our present state we do not try to know everything, or even try to take into consideration everything that is given to us every moment. I may repeat here, as I have done on other occasions, that even in our ignorance, and in and through our ignorance and wrong thinking and wrong experiencing, we are still perceiving the divine reality. But we do not pay attention to this divine reality. So what we have is ignorance, wrong perception, wrong thoughts and so on. And because of that, we are not able to perceive the truth.
You will be astonished to learn that even many philosophers have taken the view that this wrong perception is true knowledge. And then they try, on the basis of accepting this as true, to somehow teach us about that other knowledge by which God becomes known. Of course, when that kind of fantastic thing is sought to be accomplished, it goes without saying, that they have to speculate wildly, and have to propose many kinds of odd things to arrive at a final conclusion.
Even some Vedantins have done that. I have been speaking from the standpoint of Advaita Vedanta, monistic Vedanta. But even the great philosopher, Ramanuja, who represents another school of Vedanta called qualified monism, Visistadvaita, starts with this idea: the world is real; we are real; the body is real; and our present knowledge is all right. Of course, you have to make a little correction here and there, and on that basis, he had to prove that there is such a thing as Brahman, and Brahman can be known, and so on. I won't go into the details of those things at this time.
Continued from above:
But if things were all right, as these philosophers say, how is it that we have been finding ourselves so ignorant? And how is it that all the time we have to seek for knowledge and more knowledge and more knowledge? If you don't go to school and college, you are a dunce. Everybody will say, 'Here is a fool! Doesn't know anything!' And going to school, what a horrible thing that is. It's a terrible ordeal. Unless students are chastised, they don't want to learn anything. Very few want to learn any new things. And here is a word to parents: If children are still young, force them to gain knowledge. Just forget all these newfangled ideas, just force them to gain knowledge. If you say: 'Well, that will warp the nature of the child'–– it won't.
Don't put in knowledge that is warped and crooked, that is to say, fanatical, dogmatic knowledge
Knowledge itself is its own corrective. Knowledge itself. Suppose a child is sick and the doctor comes to give an injection. The child doesn't want to have the injection and you have to hold the child steady by force. Then the doctor puts the needle in. Would not this medicine do good to the child? So, put knowledge into everyone. Force knowledge into everyone, but be sure that it is true knowledge. Don't put in knowledge that is warped and crooked, that is to say, fanatical, dogmatic knowledge—if knowledge can be called dogmatic, or dogmatism could be called knowledge. You have to be very sure that it is unadulterated knowledge, not contaminated by dogma and theology, and things like that. That's where the harm comes, you see.
Tell the truth about everything to everyone. And even if you have to force it down their throats, you will find it will do them good. Because of our prevalent ignorance, we are unwilling to learn new things or corrective things. And that resistance has to be overcome. If you leave it to a person to overcome, he won't.