“The wanting to find something … the Mind feels if I learn enough I will learn my way into freedom maybe. That’s one of the illusions. If I learn enough, and I study enough, and people have studied tremendously, pundits of knowledge, sometimes find their knowledge gets in the way now. [They think] ‘I have studied all these things and something in me knows it is nothing’.”
Whilst I was in Canada in 1986 I met a woman called Brenda S, wife of Vijay S who had been with Swami Ji a number of years. I recall that she was happily married and had at least two very young boys. At some time before I met her she had been terribly ill and had actually died on the operating table. She described to me the out of body experience and of moving towards a bright light, similar to those recalled by people who die and are brought back to life .
She said that as she left her body she had the thought, “I can’t leave. What about Vijay and the boys? How will they survive without me?” Then as she moved further towards the light she felt herself let them go and think to herself, “They will be okay.”
When she came back into her body and recovered she was moved into a ward. Vijay and the boys naturally came to visit. She saw them enter the ward through the doors but it was as if she did not know them. She felt no emotional attachment at all to either her husband or the boys. Naturally for Vijay this was very distressing and when they next had the opportunity to speak with Guriji they asked why this had happened? His answer was an indication of the nature of attachment and of the laws that govern rebirth.
He said, that when she died she had withdrawn too far from her present incarnation, to the point where attachments bound to this life and this body were broken or lost. That it was natural and that she should not worry. She would simply have to make new attachments if that is what she wished.
So why am I telling this tale? Well it is not just our attachments that leave us when we die. Learned (bookish) knowledge is not the same as experienced knowledge. Knowing the Self is not knowing in the sense of knowing this or that. It is more like abiding in the Self and in that way it is known. All learned knowledge is also forgotten when this physical body dies and withdraws into the subtle body before we take a new birth. Whereas experienced knowledge is always available because it does not belong to us – it belongs to no one. It is simply there to be seen.
When Swami Ji advised me not to do a philosophy degree I was puzzled. I now see that it makes no sense to spend years learning information that will simply be lost in favour of practice that will reveal knowledge that cannot be lost. I trust his judgement.
There will come a time when one will have to forget all that one has learned. – Sri Ramana Maharshi