The Tree of Knowledge
Learning and love
Once upon a time in the distant past, there lived a great sage. His name was Maharishi Shownaka. He had many disciples, who served him well. He often used to send them to nearby towns and villages to convey his message on life and its purpose to the ordinary people. Gradually, this increased the ego of some of the disciples as they considered themselves the storehouse of knowledge. One day, a few of these disciples came to him and said: “Sir! We have been obeying your commands and conveying your message on the purpose of life to the people in the manner we have found good and desir¬able. But we find that our work serves no purpose. Mostly these people are stupid, and they are either unwilling or unable to learn or change their way of life. We feel it’s a waste of our valuable time to educate these people and pass on our knowledge to them.”
The sage was amused, but sad at the inflated ego of these disciples and said: “You all seem to have acquired considerable knowledge about many aspects of life!”
“Certainly, Sir”, they echoed in unison, “Our learning is approved and appreciated everywhere. We have learnt almost all that is worth learning.”
“I am indeed happy to learn about the level of your expertise,” said the master. “But before we can discuss these matters further, I suggest you form groups and approach people. One group will go and find out about knowledge without reading books, and the other group will find out about love without physical contacts. You may return to me later with your findings.”
The ego-filled disciples were now rather shocked and surprised at the strange command of the master and the queer nature of the assignment. How can any¬body acquire knowledge without reading books, and how can anyone learn about love without physical contacts? However, in obedience to the master’s wishes, they went round far and wide, in two separate groups, seeking peoples’ views on these matters. But lo! They met ridicule and rebuff, wherever they went. People laughed at them as two groups of idiots, not aware of the facts of life. Their ego got a good beating, and they came back to the Master, confused and crest-fallen.
“Oh, dear master! You have simply sent us on a fool’s errand. Everybody, who respected us before is now laughing at us! It is impossible to acquire knowledge without reading books, and it is equally impossible to understand love without physical contacts.”
“Is that so?” said the master with a smile. “Then, what is the knowledge that you have got from me so far? If real knowledge could be got from libraries, and real love from physical contacts, why have you come to me? And why, after acquiring knowledge from the vast number of books, and practising love with unceasing physical contacts people are still ignorant of true knowledge and true love?”
The disciples were now shocked to learn with shame of their lack of wisdom, and appealed to the master for guidance. “My dear children,” said the sage. “Please understand that real knowledge can be got not just by the study of books, but by a study of the people, for whom and from whom the books have come. We have to first educate ourselves about the people, before we proceed to educate them. We should avoid ridiculing people, without placing ourselves in their place. A close study of people leads us to a clearer perception of them, which in turn results in a deeper understanding of man. From such an understanding flows a sympathetic acceptance. Accept creation as it is, and not as you want it to be. To study, to understand and to accept creation as it exists is real knowledge. All else is just plain information, though you may choose to give many names to it.”
* * *
It is effortless
There is a story from Buddha’s life. Once Buddha was walking from one town to another with a few of his followers when they happened to pass by a lake. They stopped there and Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.” The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached the spot, he noticed some people washing clothes in the lake, and right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake, which made the water very muddy. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!” So he came back and told Buddha, “The water is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”
About half an hour later, Buddha again asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time he found the water absolutely clear. The mud had settled down. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha. Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be… and the mud settled down on its own — and you got clear water. Your mind is also like that! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”
What did Buddha emphasize here? He said, “It is effortless.” Having peace of mind is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process! Meditation is like that — it is an effortless process. Just sit down and see… Meditation will happen.
* * *
Bang on the door
With our eyes open we are lost in the world, with our doors open we are lost in the dust, with our doors closed we fall asleep. Bang on your inner door. See that there is no dearth of love in you, there is no lack of anything whatsoever inside you.
There was a beggar who sat all his life on a particular spot. When he died, people said that he had spoiled the piece of land, that he had made it dirty. “He has lived all his life here,” they said to each other. “Let us dig the mud from here and throw it out.”
When they started taking down his small hut and digging the mud out of the place where he lived, they found an enormous hole filled with wealth. The people laughed. They said, “This man lived in poverty all his life and he was sitting on this hole filled with wealth. If he had dug down one foot right where he was, he could have been a millionaire.” Everybody pitied him.
Bang on the door. Where you are, you are on the doorstep. Do not delay a moment. Bang on the door. All the wealth is within you. Each one of us is the total sun, the full sun.
* * *
Do you know why people cheat and lie?
because they know it’s easier to get
Forgiveness than Permission.
Anger is a feeling that makes your mouth work faster than your mind.
— Evan Esar
Don’t bother about people
who judge you without knowing you…
Remember, dogs bark
if they don’t know the person.
Lead with your heart…
your life will follow.
When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me
that happiness was the key to life.
When I went to school, they asked me
what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I wrote down “happy”. They told me
I didn’t understand the assignment,
I told them they didn’t understand life.
The soul always knows what to do to heal itself.
The challenge is to silence the mind.
Today, be thankful and think
about how rich you are.
Your family is Priceless
Your time is God
Your health is Wealth and
Your Saviour is the
Greatest Treasure of All!
In life we never lose friends,
we only learn who are true ones.
Worrying doesn’t empty
tomorrow of its sorrow,
it empties today of its strength.
I’m only responsible for what I say
not for what you understand.
Life us too short to stress yourself
with people who don’t even deserve
to be an issue in your life.
Forget what hurt you in the past.
But never forget what it taught you.
The most beautiful thing in this world
is to see your parents smiling and knowing
that you are the reason behind that smile.
Never put the key to your happiness
in someone else’s pocket.
Someday everything will make perfect sense.
So, for now, laugh at the confusion,
smile through the tears and
keep reminding yourself that
everything happens for a reason.
Life always offers you a second chance.
It’s called Tomorrow.
Some people will love to hate you
for all the wrong reason
but they’re not worth your attention.
Today is the oldest you’ve ever been,
yet the youngest you’ll ever be,
so enjoy this day while it lasts, and
live life to the fullest while you can.
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.
And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
— Dalai Lama
Only trust someone who can see
these three things in you:
The Sorrow behind your smile,
The Love behind your anger,
And the Reason behind your silence
We need to teach our daughters
to distinguish between:
A man who flatters her
and a man who compliments her,
A man who spends money on her
And a man who invests in her,
A man who views her as property
And a man who views her properly,
A man who lusts after her
And a man who loves her,
A man who believes he’s a gift to women
And a man who believes she’s a gift to him,
And then we need to teach our sons
to be that kind of man.