Knowledge is useful, but only to a wise user || Acharya Prashant (2018)

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Question: Acharya Ji, Pranaam! I have observed that there was some kind of urge to have deep knowledge on subjects related to Psychology, mind, thoughts, self-help etc. previously. But now this urge is declining. Is this some kind of incompleteness? Have I identified myself with knowledge?

Please give some clarity.

Acharya Prashant Ji: You need knowledge in order to solve a problem. There is something bothering you, and so you want to go out and gather knowledge regarding that thing.

If you look at knowledge that man has gathered in various fields, you will easily see that all of man’s knowledge is related to man’s desire. Man does not try to gain knowledge in fields that have absolutely no connection with man’s fundamental desires.

Man desires, man gets not. And then man says, “Let me get knowledge, and use it as a tool in order to solve the problem of the desire remaining incomplete.” And that is why, you know why knowledge very quickly turns into technology – so that it can be used by man to fulfill desires.

Don’t you see how it happens?

Knowledge generation requires effort, time, endeavour, funds. Look at all the great laboratories throughout the world. They are driven by funding. And what kind of knowledge-generation is funded? You do not want knowledge in just any direction or dimension. You fund research in those fields that appear useful to ‘you’.

And that is the relation between ‘knowledge’ and ‘desire’.

You face problems, you have desire. You have desire, you face problems. And then you want knowledge. But what will you do when the fundamental problem itself is getting dissolved? What will happen to your tendency to gain knowledge? What will happen?

The one who feels that his destination is far away wants knowledge about roads, about vehicles, about the terrains, about people, about guides. A lot of knowledge is needed because your destination is far away. What about the one who has reached the destination? How much knowledge does he need, and for what?


We must know the very root of knowledge.

We must know why man finds knowledge important.

We must know both, the usefulness and the limitations of the knowledge.

As long as you are taking yourself as lost and stranded, you need knowledge.

And when you are someone who fundamental desire has been quenched, then knowledge is no more that appealing.

You would still have knowledge, but your urge towards knowledge would not be the urge of a dying man, thirsty man towards water.

Now knowledge to you would be like a hobby.

A hobby is something you have a good time with, but a hobby is not something that you would die without.

To the desirous man, to the man who is dying of desires and thirst, ‘knowledge’ is what water is to a thirsty man.

And to a fulfilled man, ‘knowledge’ is what hobby is to a relaxed man, fulfilled man.

Getting it?

It is not as if the Buddhas do not have knowledge. They do have knowledge, but they are no more dependent on knowledge for their fundamental identity. Now they do not look towards knowledge as their saviour. Now they do not measure their self-worth on the perimeter of self-knowledge. And now they do not think that knowledge will deliver them out of their troubles. They know that knowledge is a useful tool and that’s all. But they know that knowledge cannot be the master.

The Liberated man can be known by the right value that he accords to knowledge.

Right value.

Neither is he averse to knowledge, nor is he crazy after knowledge.

He has the right place for knowledge.

He is not a knowledge bug.

And there are so many knowledge-bugs going around.

Do you know what is ‘trivia’? Knowledge that you do not need is – trivia. Or let me put it this way.

Information that you healthily need is – knowledge.

And information that you need because you are sick is – trivia.

Are you getting it?

Most of that which will call as ‘knowledge’, is actually trivia. Because it is of no fundamental use. Worse still, most of our knowledge is being used to perform a function that knowledge can never perform.

You are thinking, for example, that knowledge can give you Peace. Now knowledge can never perform this function. But we are over-dependent on knowledge and we over-estimate the capacity of knowledge.

The fellow has no Love in his life, but he is so knowledgeable. Will that redeem him? He thinks so, and he is so knowledgeable. That’s why he thinks so. The fellow is so joyless, but he has loads of knowledge. How will that help him? And remember that he will continue to be joyless because he is trying to use knowledge, as a substitute for Joy.

Knowledge in knowledge, useful in daily matters.

But knowledge cannot deliver Truth to you.

Knowledge cannot be an equivalent of Surrender.

And never, never can knowledge be an equivalent of Realisation.

And there is no dearth of people who conflate knowledge with Realisation. A large number of people we have, utterly knowledgeable, but with zero Realisation.

Are you getting it?

And the mark of Realisation is that now you know that knowledge is a ‘thing’. Now you don’t think that knowledge is God. Knowledge is a ‘thing’ in your hands. Have only as much of it as is needed, and don’t keep clinging to it. Use it and keep it away.

Is there anything that you always keep carrying? Is there anything that you always keep carrying? If you do, then it must be such a heavy burden.

Use it, and then keep it away.


Watch the session video: Knowledge is useful, but only to a wise user || Acharya Prashant (2018) The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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