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From The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:
“A learned ignorance is the end of philosophy and the beginning of religion”
~Sir William Hamilton
Acharya Prashant: What is Philosophy? Though Philosophy means the search for Truth, but it ends up becoming just more and more concepts about Truth. With Philosophy, you get not the Truth, but words about Truth, opinions about Truth. With philosophy, you want to capture magic and logic. And it is so impossible. That’s what every philosopher has been trying to do. He has been trying to apply logic to magic.How will you ever understand? How will you ever succeed?
“A learned ignorance”, its a beautiful phrase. The wise man, is deeply ignorant. He is free of concepts and knowledge. The moment you drop the arrogance that you will ever reach there through arguments. The moment you drop your assumption that you, the logician, can understand that great magician then you are clean, clear. Your eyes, do not have the stain of cleverness anymore. You are no more trying to argue it out. And when your approach is not through arguments and sentences, then your approach is simple and direct.
Truth is so obvious and so direct that any argument for Truth, can only be a hindrance. The cup is right in front of you. Now any talk or discussion, any theory or formula, or any concept about drinking, will only delay the drinking. When we refer to the Truth as beyond, it does not mean that the Truth is beyond us. It only means that the Truth is beyond our clever mechanisms. Otherwise it is direct. It is not beyond at all. It is the most approachable. You stretch out your hand and all you get is Truth. You look here and there and all you see is Truth. You listen and all you listen to, is Truth. There is no question of any beyondness. But there is a GREAT beyondness in Truth, if you are proceeding with the aid of the clever mind. If you are proceeding with the aid of the argumentative mind.
Drop your arguments.
We are talking about Ramakrishna here, he was so fond of saying that he is ignorant. He would put it very simply, “Oh! I am so ignorant.” Sometimes, he would even say, Oh I am a fool. It’s a divine foolishness. Drop your knowledgeability, become ignorant and foolish, like Ramakrishna. And you will start seeing in the whole world, what Ramakrishna would see in a deity.
It is not for nothing, that they say that the saint looks and acts so much like a child.
He regains, pure childlike state. In fact his innocence is purer than that of a child.
(Chirping of birds around)
Now listen to these birds. There is something very very important that they know. And they know it, not through knowledge, not through arguments. The knowledge runs in their blood. The knowledge, is in their heartbeat. It’s a very wise ignorance. It is not for nothing that they are chirping so innocently, so simply and lightly. Evenings come and evenings go, and man is never able to chirp like a bird. It is because, man is clever. And these birds are not.
When you drop knowledge, then you come to know of something that knowledge can never help you know. Sounds strange. It is this way. The dropping of knowledge, the dropping of identification with knowledge, has a supreme quality of knowing about it. It is a knowing that surpasses knowledge. So, drop knowledge and KNOW. There is no other way to know.
Ramakrishna is a simple man. Very simple man. Learned people did not even like him. To go close to him, to understand him, you will have to be as uneducated and as knowledge less as he was. He had neither knowledge, nor guilt nor shame. He was not a scholar. He would give surprising answers, he would do shocking things. Sometimes he would act almost like a madman. You will have to look at him very simply. Not with an argumentative mind.
There is nothing about Ramakrishna that argument can prove. With argument you can only come to, disbelieve and dislike him. You read him from the heart and you will feel a reason-less attraction towards him. You read him from the mind and you will be befuddled – fainting now and then, sometimes dancing, in the middle of a street, in the market, sometimes weeping, sometimes laughing.
A great debate was organized once. So, Keshab Chandra Sen, he was a contemporary of Ramakrishna, he was a scholar, and a social reformer. So, he came to argue with Ramakrishna, he was a rationalist; so Ramakrishna kept saying that I have nothing that I can say. Why is he troubling himself, by coming to me to argue? He is such a wise and great scholar, what can I say. But nevertheless, Keshab Chandra Sen came. And he came with a lot of his students, and a crowd also gathered there to look at the Tamasha.
So, these two people sat in front of each other and one after the other Sen started demolishing everything that Ramakrishna used to say. He said, “You know you look at this deity and you say Mother. Now deity is just stone and you are perceiving it through your eyes, so it is just an optical illusion.” And he would put forward very learned arguments. And Ramakrishna would clap, he would say, “See.” And it was not a satire on Sen, he would actually feel pleased. He would say to his students, “See I told you, a great man is coming. See what he has just said.”
At one point, he got so fascinated by what Sen was saying, that he actually took a plate of sweets, and went to him and started feeding him. No, you must take these sweets, you are arguing so brilliantly. Now, Sen does not know, what to do with this man. The sharper an argument is, the more Ramakrishna seems to enjoy it. It appeared that he would soon start dancing. As if saying, “Mother, see, one of your glorious sons has come to meet me today.” This is the kind of man he was. And needless to mention, Sen became a devoted follower of Ramakrishna.
Ramakrishna had no arguments. Sen kept on giving arguments and Ramakrishna kept on feeling glad.
He was a loser, right? What else would you call such a man in your contemporary parlance, somebody has come to your home to defeat you, to fight you, to show you down, and you are clapping for him, hugging him.
Who won the debate?
The ways of the heart are very nonsensical. You win by losing. You gain all, by surrendering yourself. The mind only knows aggression. The heart only knows surrender and it wins. And the mind is a perpetual loser. Trying to win, all it gets is Defeats. The heart is so eager to lose, and eager to lose it wins everything.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
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