Man forever wants to know, and even if the mind does not ask it, there is an inward urge within him which always shouts out to answer one question, which is only one question: “which I?” That is the main question that is central to man, “Who am I?”

This question can go through many superimpositions, and his search begins by enquiring into various facets, including science, arts, and whatever. This search could start outwardly. To find the answer to the question “Who am I?”, he begins searching outside of himself to get an answer. The modern scientist is no better than the primitive man, they only do it in a more sophisticated way. The primitive man used to search outside himself, creating gods for himself, cloud gods and rain gods that could answer questions for him. Religion started with this primitive man’s mind getting involved in various superstitions. The modern scientist’s mind gets involved in various dreams. The difference between superstition and dream is very fine. A superstition is also a projection, just as a dream is a projection. The difference here is that the superstitious primitive man believed in what he thought, while the scientist’s dream is devoid of belief until he can verify the dream.   

Man, by nature, is an enquiring person; he has to enquire, enquire, and enquire. He wants to know the causes of things. He wants to see why this flower grows. He wants to know why the wall stands upright and a million things of that nature. By understanding the causes of exterior things, he thinks he will be led somehow to find the cause of himself, and there again, the question comes, “Who am I?”


There is nothing wrong with enquiry. There is nothing wrong with the examination of the environment. Examining the grossest matter and enquiring into the subtlest atom is nothing terrible. If a man has that enquiring ability, has the sophisticated thinking mind to see deeply into things and tries to know the causes of things, he can be very helpful to the world if he uses his heart and mind. The modern trend is perhaps very destructive, as we have seen in many of the inventions that have been misused. But if the heart is expanded, if that love is infused in the knowledge the mind has gained, then all these enquiries and the answers could be used usefully for the benefit of all around us, but we see how the wealth of the world is so misused. They would spend billions and billions and billions in sending rockets to the moon, while here on this tiny planet, there are millions of people starving to death. That is misuse. Why do you want to know what is happening on the moon? Why do you want to reach the moon? You want to reach the moon and climb Mount Everest because it is a challenge. Fine. Let it be a challenge. Let it be a challenge and face the challenge, but not at the expense of a suffering humanity. The difference would be that the challenge is mental and neglecting suffering humanity, which in turn means neglecting the expansion of the heart. So, all progress that we regard to be progress is very, very imbalanced. There is no balance.


Being a finite mind, it could never know everything because it is limited. Scientists, for example, have been enquiring into the atom and the more they enquire into the atom, they come to various other factors of the atom which are sub-atomic, and even reaching there, they still feel that there is still finer matter and the search will go on and on. The real cause and the essence of matter will never be found with the mind because the mind is relative and has relative abilities and capabilities.

Knowledge is a word that has been so misunderstood. Knowledge is but an accumulation of various facts which can be obtained from any good encyclopaedia. I have someone in Cape Town, if I want to know about something, I do not look up the encyclopaedia, but I pick up the phone, and I call this young man, his name is Harish, and I say what do you know about this and immediately he will rattle off all facts and figures and dates and what have you. But then he comes to me, saying, “Guruji, I am like a donkey with a whole load of books on my back; despite a load of books, I am still a donkey.”

What we want to do is to go beyond knowledge and into the realm of wisdom. That is something different from knowledge. As we know it, knowledge is an accumulation of facts by which we burden our little brains. But wisdom is a knowingness, and this knowingness that wells up from inside can never be subjected to half a dozen Ph.D. degrees. If that were so, then every University Professor of Philosophy would be a self-realised man, and he is not. He is even more mixed up studying all these various philosophies. After having studied every possible philosophy to become a Professor of Philosophy, he is increasingly confused, and he is in a position, in a far lower position, to answer the question, “Who am I?”


So, all this means that the enquiry into the various aspects and facets of life must not be stopped because if a person has an intellectual tendency, that is his starting point. As he goes analysing multiple things, he will know that this is just not it; there is something more. There is something more. It is very seldom that those who are so knowledgeable and who have pride in their knowledge will reach the Kingdom of Heaven. The Scriptures say this over and over again. If acquiring knowledge can bring us innocence, humility, surrender, and devotion, then that Kingdom of Heaven can be entered into.

Knowledge can build a steel wall around us; we think we know. We think we know, but we do not know. It all remains in the realm of the mind; thinking of the mind and what the mind thinks that it knows is also within the framework of the mind. That knowledge can be useless. As the saying goes, “What is the use of gaining the whole world and yet losing your soul?” Here, gaining the whole world comes from having some knowledge that gives you worldly power. By finding the soul, one finds wisdom, and by having wisdom, one finds the soul. Therefore, the uneducated do not need to lose hope. Sometimes, the ignorant are more sincere in their search. They are more honest with themselves. They are more inclined to the heart because the mind does not stand in the way.

A lovely feast is put on the illiterate person, the uneducated person. He will sit down and enjoy the feast, enjoy the meal, but the same feast could be put in front of a very educated person, and he will start counting calories, “Ah, that potato has so many calories, that bread so many calories.” It is fine, but it will detract from his enjoyment of the meal and yet the peasant of the fields who does not count calories is far healthier than we calorie counters, although this is necessary too. If our minds have started in a specific enquiry, that enquiry must be carried on, or else the mind will not feel happy.


The purpose of the acquisition of knowledge is to find oneself. Everything else is secondary, but for most people who enter professions, one takes up psychology, another takes up this, that or the other; they do it not for enquiry or finding the truth; they embrace these studies to get a licence to make a living. That is all they do. I have a friend who is a doctor; he is about forty-two and on the verge of retiring as a doctor. At forty-two, he is retiring from his profession, and now he wants to pursue his hobby, music, and other things. Now and then, he flies to London to listen to an excellent concert. He comes from an impoverished family, and friends and relatives helped him with university fees, boarding, and lodging so he could study. He told me sincerely, “When I become a doctor, I will want to serve humanity. I would love to take the pain and the suffering from humanity, which is why I want to become a doctor.” But when the money started jingling in, all those thoughts he had in his mind disappeared, which is why he could retire at forty-two. That was just a little story—a true story of how a man’s mind is turned after he has acquired knowledge.

So many temptations are put in man’s way, so thoughts change his mind. A man wants to acquire knowledge to help, but he ends up helping no one, and incidentally, this doctor’s fees were the highest in the town. Therefore, we need to expand the heart of this world. When the heart is expanded and knows and feels love for his fellow men, then whatever knowledge the mind acquires can be used.


By putting the knowledge acquired to good use, one steps further and closer into the realms of wisdom where you do not only know, but you know that you know. You know that, you know. That means it is digested knowledge. It is good to have a meal that can be equated with knowledge, but digesting it and receiving its benefits in the body is different. Our temperaments are such that we search for and seek all forms of knowledge, but funny enough, one thing happens: we do the seeking, and Divinity finds us. We do the seeking, but Divinity finds us. The reason is that our search is from the mind.

When the mind quietens down in meditation, you have no expectations of what is coming. You very spontaneously enter into some form of silence. With regular practice, the silence becomes deeper and deeper; all the answers are found in that silence. The answer to the search is answered through experience. So, knowledge remains on the level of the mind, while wisdom is something that wells up from within oneself, and you would just know that I have been in the presence and know that the answer to the primal question “Who am I?” is there. No one can ever answer that question for you. No one. The answer to the question “Who am I?” must be experienced by oneself. Then the “Who” disappears, and only “I am” remains, and that is the answer: “I am that I am.”

… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang UK 1978 – 09