It was not a land of trees, meadows, streams and flowers and mirth. It was a sunburnt land of sand and barren hills, without a single tree or bush; a land of desolation, an endless scorched earth mile upon mile; there wasn’t even a bird and not even oil with its derricks and flames of burning oil. Consciousness could not hold the desolation and every hill was a barren shadow. For many hours we flew over this vast emptiness and at last there were snow peaks, forest and streams, villages and spreading towns.
You may have a great deal of knowledge and be vastly poor. The poorer you are the greater the demand for knowledge. You expand your consciousness with great varieties of knowledge, accumulating experiences and remembrances and yet may be vastly poor. The skilful use of knowledge may bring you wealth and give you eminence and power but there may still be poverty. This poverty breeds callousness; you play while the house is burning. This poverty merely strengthens the intellect or gives to the emotions the weakness of sentiment. It’s this poverty that brings about imbalance, the outer and inner. There’s no knowledge of the inner, only of the outer. The knowledge of the outer informs us erroneously that there must be knowledge of the inner. Self-knowing is brief and shallow; the mind is soon beyond it, like crossing a river. You make a lot of noise in going across the river and to mistake the noise as knowledge of the self is to expand poverty. This expansion of consciousness is the activity of poverty. Religions, culture, knowledge, can in no way enrich this poverty.
The skill of intelligence is to put knowledge in its right place. Without knowledge it’s not possible to live in this technological and almost mechanical civilization but it will not transform the human being and his society. Knowledge is not the excellence of intelligence; intelligence can and does use knowledge and thus transforms man and his society. Intelligence is not the mere cultivation of the intellect and its integrity. It comes out of the understanding of the whole consciousness of man, yourself and not a part, a separate segment, of yourself. The study and the understanding of the movement of your own mind and heart give birth to this intelligence. You are the content of your consciousness; in knowing yourself you will know the universe. This knowing is beyond the word for the word is not the thing. The freedom from the known, every minute, is the essence of intelligence. It’s this intelligence that is in operation in the universe if you leave it alone. You are destroying this sacredness of order through the ignorance of yourself. This ignorance is not banished by the studies others have made about you or themselves. You yourself have to study the content of your own consciousness. The studies the others have made of themselves, and so of you, are the descriptions but not the described. The word is not the thing.
Only in relationship can you know yourself, not in abstraction and certainly not in isolation. Even in a monastery you are related to the society which has made the monastery as an escape, or closed the doors to freedom. The movement of behaviour is the sure guide to yourself; it’s the mirror of your consciousness; this mirror will reveal its content, the images, the attachments, the fears, the loneliness, the joy and the sorrow. Poverty lies in running away from this, either in its sublimations. or in its identities. Negating without resistance this content of consciousness is the beauty and compassion of intelligence.