Nawab Mohammed Khan, Jan-Fishan, was out walking in Delhi one day when he came upon a number of people seemingly engaged in an altercation.
He asked a bystander, “What is happening here?”
The man said, “Sublime Highness, one of your disciples is objecting to the behavior of the people in this quarter.”
Jan-Fishan went into the crowd and said to his follower, “Explain yourself.”
The man said, “These people have been hostile.”
The people exclaimed, “That is not true: we were, on the contrary, doing him honor for your sake.”
“What did they say?” asked the Nawab.
“They said, ‘Hail, Great Scholar!’ I was telling them that it is the ignorance of the scholars which is often responsible for the confusion and desperation of man.”
Jan-Fishan Khan said, “It is the conceit of scholars which is responsible, quite often, for the misery of man. And it is your conceit in claiming to be other than a scholar which is the cause of this tumult. Not to be a scholar, which involves detachment from the petty, is an accomplishment. Scholars are seldom wise, being only unaltered people stuffed with thoughts and books.
“These people were trying to honor you. If some people think that mud is gold, if it is their mud, respect it. You are not their teacher.
“Do you not realize that, in behaving in such a sensitive and self-willed manner, you are acting just like a scholar, and therefore deserve the name, even if it is an epithet?
“Guard yourself, my child. Too many slips from the path of supreme attainment – and you may become a scholar.”
Existence is – unexplained, unexplainable, unknown – not only that, but unknowable also. There is no way to know it, because there is nobody who is separate from it. Knowledge needs separation. You can love existence because love depends on union, and we are already united with it. But you cannot know it, because knowledge needs division, and there is no way to be divided from it.
Knowledge means the knower is separate from the known. We are not separate from existence – we are it. It is our suchness – how can we know it? The claim to know is the greatest conceit. The claim to know is the greatest ego there is. Hence the knowledgeable man goes on missing it. Only lovers know, scholars never. But to be a lover needs courage – you have to dissolve and disappear.
To be knowledgeable needs no courage. That is the hiding place of the cowards. All cowards become scholars. Because they cannot love, the only thing left for them is to try to know. And because knowledge is impossible in the very nature of things, all that they claim is false.