Against The Stream ~ NOT JUST IN THE MIND
not with words the Immeasurable,
Nor sink the string of thought into the Fathomless;
Who asks doth err, who answers errs;
THE INTELLECT IS VERY IMPORTANT, and we should use
it as far as it can take us, but recognize its limits.
There is a little story to illustrate this:
A certain proud and scholarly man sometimes used to
cross a bay by ferry. Looking with scorn on the poor
ferryman, one day he asked: "Have you ever studied
The ferryman replied: "No, sir, I haven’t".
"Oh, you poor fool", said the
professor, "you have wasted a quarter of your
The next time he took the ferry, the scholar
asked the boatman: "What do you know of oceanography?"
"Oceanography?" said the boatman,
"You mean you don’t know what
oceanography is?" said the scholar, haughtily;
"You’ve wasted half of your life!"
"Have you learned about nautical engineering?"
the scholar asked a few days later. The ferryman replied
that he didn’t know anything about that, either,
and in fact, had not even been to school. With a look
of horror, the scholar said: "What a waste of
three-quarters of your life, just ferrying people
across the bay!" The ferryman was silent.
One day, when the scholar got into the boat
and they were halfway across the bay, the ferryman
said to him: "Sir, have you ever studied swimmingology?"
"No, why?" the man asked nervously.
"Because there is a storm coming, and
if the boat capsizes, we’ll have to swim! Your
whole life might be wasted!"
Intellectual analysis and speculation will
not lead to enlightenment but only to further entanglement.
J. Krishna-murti once said this about it: "The
Immeasurable cannot be sought by thought, for thought
has always a measure. The Sublime is not within the
structure of thought and reason, nor is it the product
of emotion and sentiment. If you are seeking the highest
you will not find it; it must come to you, if you
are lucky— and luck is the open window of your
heart, not of thought".
We must allow our hearts to open, and this
happens when we are in contact— gentle, not
harsh contact— with life. Without joy in our
lives, our hearts will never open; so there must be
a tremendous interest in life, a willingness, as it
were, to bend down and touch the earth, which hitherto
we have considered unclean.
Truth— like the wind— cannot
be caught in a bottle and stored up as a personal
possession, to be gloated over as ‘mine, not
yours!’ It cannot be preserved in formaldehyde.
It is not something of the past, like the bones of
dinosaurs, nor of the future, in some far-off time
or place, but of the Here-and-Now, and must be experienced
as such, continuously. To try to catch it in webs
of words— as so many of us try to do—
is as useless as trying to chain and hold the sea.
There were two famous teachers. One had
gathered his knowledge in an academic way, from reading
books and attending lectures, while the other had
gained his from his own direct experience and observing
the life around him.
One day, someone decided to test these teachers
to see if they really knew what they were talking
about. He went first to the one who had studied much
and said: "Sir, would you, while standing on
one foot, explain to me your teachings?"
The teacher was angry at the man’s
impudence and scolded him, saying: "How can anyone
expect me to explain in a few minutes what it has
taken me a lifetime to learn? Get out of here, and
don’t waste my time!"
He went to the other teacher and asked him
the same question. This teacher smiled and said: "Yes,
listen: What you don’t like others to do to
you, don’t do that to others. Anything else
that can be said is just commentary to this".
This is known as The Golden Rule; it is
taught by most religions in one form or another, and
is the monopoly of none. Christians like to think
of it as theirs because Jesus taught it, so they might
be surprised to learn that it was already old long
before Jesus was born, and that both the Buddha and
Confucius taught it, as well as many others! It worked
then and it works now, if we care to apply it. It
is the Great Key, and there is no mystery in it; it’s
actually quite simple and effective to use in our
relationships with others.
Suppose you go into a shop to buy something
at— let’s say— $10, and you hand
the shop-keeper a $50 bill. Thinking you gave him
$20, he gives you only $10 change instead of $40.
Would you think: "Oh, never mind; it’s
only $30 difference", and leave without saying
anything? Of course not! You would say: "Excuse
me, but you’ve made a mistake and given me the
wrong change", wouldn’t you?
Suppose, however, the shop-keeper makes
a mistake the other way, and instead of giving you
change for $50, gives you change for $100. Would you
then tell him he had made a mistake and return the
excess to him? Or would you think: "How lucky
I am!" and leave quickly without revealing his
One day, Farmer A went to Farmer B to complain
that his bull had gored one of his cows, and demanded
compensation. Farmer B said: "Well, I’m
sorry to hear about your cow, but animals are not
responsible for their actions, so I can’t be
held liable to pay compensation".
"Ah, so", said Farmer A, "but
I’m afraid I stated the case wrongly. You see,
it wasn’t your bull that gored my cow, but my
bull that gored your cow!"
"What!" shouted Farmer B; "In
that case, I must consult my lawyer to see if there’s
a precedent for this; probably I’m entitled
Justice is a two-way street; if we want
others to be fair with us, we must try to be fair
with others; we cannot expect to reap where we have
not sown. The problem is, people want others to respect
their rights and freedom, but do not always respect
the rights and freedom of others; they think laws
are good if they protect them, but bad if they restrict
them from doing just whatever they want to do.
If we wish to find Truth we must be honest.
As Chuang Tsu said: "There is no Truth where
there is no Truthful man", meaning that it is
useless to seek Truth if we have not abandoned dishonesty.
Some people gather so much knowledge without
using it that they become ‘intellectually constipated’
thereby; like this, knowledge becomes a useless burden.
The Dharma must be applied if there are to be results;
it is no use if it is just a matter of belief or an