Q. Why did ancient masters say, “There should be nothing you know.”?

Q. Why did ancient masters say, “There should be nothing you know.”?

A. You are wrong when there is something you know, and also wrong when there is something you don’t know. This is a saying that expresses the state of enlightenment. Reaching the final goal means that you become non-dual, oneness with everything. Then, you become oneness with the whole universe, feeling that there is nothing else that is not you. In other words, if you know or don’t know something, it means that you are divided into two, the subject and the object: you and what you know or what you don’t know. Therefore, in the perfect state there is nothing you don’t know, and nothing you know as well.


There is a similar saying, “If an ordinary man knows what he is when his body is not him, he becomes a saint, but if a saint knows it, he becomes an ordinary man.” Once you reach there, everything is so perfectly one with you that there is nothing but yourself to compare with. Even the idea that you know what you are when your body is not you is an illusion then. How could you explain oneness or non-duality when there is nothing to compare with or any standard to apply to. Just as red is not red any more when everything is red, so when everything is you, you are not you anymore. Then there can be said to be nothing you know.

Student: “Sir, what is the Buddha?”
Master: “If I answer your question, I become menial.”

©Boo Ahm
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway http://ow.ly/i/wEKuL

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