KNOWLEDGE AND OCCURRENCE
When, after a considerable time, I could once again hold the hand of my exalted teacher, to whom I owe everything I have received, when I first saw in the light of the southern sun his kindly eyes shining and heard the gentle sound of his voice, then I told him how great was my joy that now I might receive from his own lips that ultimate knowledge which becomes reality to so few on this earth. I still believed at that time that this knowledge was nothing other than the teaching of a secret ‘science’, similar to the sciences of this world, which could, however, only be passed on to pupils who had thoroughly proved themselves. – –
The exalted master looked at me with a smile and remained silent for some time.
Then he spoke:
“You are a true son of the west! Whatever you do not receive as a ‘science’ appears dubious to you; you do not dare trust truth unless it appears before you in the apparel of ‘science’, in the sense the word is used in your distinguished schools. – – – – –
You will have to ‘change the way you learn’, my friend!
You will have to learn to understand a different way of teaching than the one which has validity in your lands only. – – –
If you want to come to the truth, you must firstly put an end to the delusion that truth is some sort of ‘knowledge!
Your striving must henceforth be directed towards something different.
You must strive to get to the bottom of occurrence!– – – ”
After keeping silent for a while, he carried on:
“The world of the soul is continual occurrence.
In no other way can the world of the soul unravel itself to you than by your entering this world, incomprehensible to earthly senses, as a witness to its occurrence.
Then you will find the wisdom which even the wisest of men cannot ‘know’, but is only really known to him who has experienced that occurrence within himself and can experience it anew at any hour…”
When the venerable teacher had now finished speaking, there was a long, deep silence, interrupted only occasionally by the mocking cry of a toucan.
The master’s view swept over the silvery green foliage of the olive groves, while I was formulating in my spirit the question whether, nonetheless, a certain level of culture and knowledge were not a precondition and a necessity for this form of knowledge.
Then the sublime one, who had observed my question taking form and read it in my spirit (since he only understood with difficulty my own tongue and therefore had to communicate with me, even though he was right next to me, through the spirit) began to speak once more, saying:
“A high level of culture, knowledge, learnedness, aesthetic feeling, understanding of art and philosophy, – in short, all those things your thoughts surveyed, are utterly irrelevant in attaining knowledge of ultimate truth. –
What you call ‘philosophical speculation’, which has also at the very least been practised for thousands of years in my own land, if indeed my land is not the cradle of this form of ‘science’, – – actually has an inhibiting effect on those spiritual powers which can bring about in man the experience of spiritual occurrence of the soul.– –
Our scholars are in error here, if they believe they have found the knowledge of ultimate truth in their own way; and your scholars in the west also err when they marvel in awe at the depth of our thinking, and suppose that its results represent the ultimate attainable knowledge of the truth. – – – –
It is no coincidence that in the west where you live there have been men with razor – sharp intelligence who have, through their thinking, arrived at quite similar results, if not the same, as thinkers from our country. –
Like the game of chess where there are countless combinations possible for the pieces on the board, and yet the board, as the field of play, is never left, so, all the results attained through thinking are always tied to the rules of thought, and can never leave their own field of play.
But what one would like to find through thought lies far outside this field of play. It can indeed become an object of thought, – – after it has been found, – but can never be found through thought at any time…”
After another pause which the master used to give my escort – a woman from a family with a long academic tradition who was well versed in all spheres of knowledge – some elucidation on the differences between the eastern and western ways of teaching and learning, he continued:
“In order to discover the hall-mark of wisdom – ‘the truth’ – the profoundest mystery of all mysteries, – – springing forth from the origin, bringing peace, and pacifying all yearning, – you need not know that the earth goes round the sun, that the stars in the night are not lamps fixed in the dome of the sky but celestial bodies, neither need you know where thunder and lightning come from, or any more of these sorts of things whose mysteries human reason has solved. –
All this is completely irrelevant in the end for experiencing the grounds of origin. –
The sun could orbit the earth every day, thunder and lightning could be the expression of demonic powers, and the stars could be small lanterns lit up above our heads every evening by ethereal spirits. –
All this should be seen as utterly inconsequential in the context of knowing ultimate truth and experiencing the eternal…
Some fiction or other to explain all these phenomena would be just as useful to man as the most definite knowledge demonstrating natural laws which has been confirmed by using all sorts of complicated instruments.
We regret the direction of the human will which allowed mankind to give such knowledge such a high estimation, for it renders man’s path to the spirit increasingly difficult. – –
Through all this knowledge he is losing a world of feeling in which he should remain at home. –
Through his instruments he creates gigantic organs for rational understanding which are completely out of harmony with his natural capacity for comprehending. He deceives himself if he thinks that the rational knowledge he accumulates, which is massively disproportionate to his capacity to influence, will bring him even a hair’s breadth closer to the truth he seeks with all his reason ..…
All he thereby achieves is the awareness of impotence with respect to the might allotted to him, and a feeling of disharmony between ‘knowing’ and the ability to achieve. This feeling of impotence misdirects him into underestimating the power he has really been given, though in a purely spiritual way. At the same time he looks with pride upon his ‘discoveries’, unaware that they are robbing him of his best, since they keep the striving of his will going in a direction which is running away from the real ultimate goal…
He loses a sense of the relative in external circumstances; he loses a sense for the fact that the ‘laws’ of nature he believes he recognises, – granted he has recognised them correctly – are only valid under certain conditions, and that although the power of the spirit can not change the ‘laws’ themselves, it can change the conditions of the outer world…..
The eternal, however, which he would wish to learn to know more clearly through all his efforts, remains in this way – out the reach of his knowledge, until he changes the direction of his searching. – – –
Even tomorrow this whole world of immeasurable space could be reduced to rubble; a new universe with quite different conditions could fill this space; ‘laws of nature’ could take effect, of which all your ‘science’ still has no inkling; and yet nothing would have changed in the eternal spirit which is to be comprehended through experience. – – –
Vain and ephemeral is all that proud ‘knowledge’ which you seek to attain in the outer world, – vain and ephemeral is all supposed ‘knowledge’ which needs the crutches of philosophical thought, – but comprehending the essential through experience makes the most ignorant beggar, clueless as to what you mean by ‘culture’ and ‘progress’ as he sits in his hut in the forest, living off the kindly offerings of pilgrims who must pass through the jungle – – makes of him an eternal king of all the worlds, – a master of all life. – – – – – – –
Certainly you should not, like such a yogi, withdraw to the jungle, certainly it is desirable if the pupil of wisdom living in the west can lay claim so much external knowledge of his age, that he can speak to his countrymen in the language of his age. However, all such external knowledge must not obstruct the path leading him through experience to knowledge of the spirit, must not become a hindrance to his steps! – –
Only when he has overcome his external knowledge, may he earnestly hope to find certain ‘knowledge’ through experiencing the spirit in himself! – – – – – – – – – – – – –”