Dear friends, I understand that you have a volley of questions to ask me after my talk is over. I am eager to know your deep, spiritual questions. Here at this august university you have been devotedly studying to cultivate knowledge. Today you will learn something about a subject diametrically opposite, ignorance.
Each man has a nature of his own. Each man has ignorance of his own. Complex is his nature. Manifold is his ignorance. But what is more, each man has a divine soul of his own, carrying in it his ultimate Perfection.
True, man is likely to stumble through the thorny forests of ignorance. It is equally true that God will someday lead him into the sunlit path of knowledge.
Ignorance says that God is to be found outside oneself. Knowledge says that God is to be found within oneself. Wisdom says, “God is within. He is also without.”
What with unconscious ignorance, what with conscious ignorance, man’s desire to see God face to face is to hope against hope. What with conscious self-sacrifice, what with unconscious self sacrifice, man’s dream to see God is not only possible and practicable but also inevitable.
Ignorance has a free access everywhere, yet it stays not, rather it cannot stay anywhere for good.
My name was obscurity. Ignorance was my teacher. What did I learn from my teacher? Only two things: how to be imperfect and how to be self-limited. Ignorance was my mother. She fed me with her despair. Ignorance was my father. He blessed me with his stupidity.
I have known. I have known that few are those who want to be free from the snare of ignorance. Fewer are those who are willing to pay the price, although they want to be free. I have realised. I have realised that man’s knowledge is only a higher degree of effective ignorance.
Slowly ignorance travels in the world of night. Annihilation speedily and ruthlessly overtakes ignorance. When ignorance reaches the abysmal breath of self limitation, man is compelled to turn into his grave with a living body.
The soul says that it has no enemy. But ignorance fails to see eye to eye with the soul, it says, “Oh soul, I am your eternal enemy. I don’t want you, I don’t want your light.” The soul says, “I am your Eternal Friend, O ignorance. I want you because God wants me to awaken you from your endless sleep. My Light wants you because God wants you to come out of your self chosen perpetual limitation and death.”
When we are freed from the fetters of ignorance, our hearts grow into the divine beauty. This divine beauty, which is the pride of the soul, is the blessedness of life.
Human ignorance wants to control the world. Human love wants to bind the world. Human truth wants to lead the world. Divine Knowledge wants to inspire the heart of the world. Divine Truth wants the world to be fulfilled in God and for God.
“Better be unborn than untaught, for ignorance is the root of misfortune.” – Plato
What Plato says is absolutely true in its own way. But if an individual cries for God realisation and the perfect manifestation of his inner divinity on earth, then he has to come into the world, no matter how abysmal his ignorance is. Ignorance is and may be the malady of today’s life, but tomorrow’s life can and must be otherwise. Tomorrow’s life can be flooded with the soul’s glowing Light. The life’s journey has to start from where it is. The healthful hunger for the divine Light, more Light, infinite Light is not only today’s necessity, but also tomorrow’s inevitability. The Goal Supreme is neither behind us nor with us. It is ahead of us. It is in the Heart of the Beyond. The Goal is beckoning us. Let us walk, march, and run toward the Goal, We need not hesitate to go to our Goal. The Goal is ready and eager to embrace us with our ignorance. Once we are embraced by the Goal, what remains is to bathe in the Sea of our Goal’s eternally infinite Light.
Our teeming ignorance and the Devil’s binding desire are hand in glove with each other. Our growing knowledge and God’s glowing hope are hand in glove with each other. Our flowing wisdom and God’s illumining choice are hand in glove with each other.
Doubt says to ignorance, “At long last I have come to know that you are my sister.” Ignorance says, “Sorry, even now you are mistaken. I am not your sister, but your mother. And you are my bravest son.”
Ignorance has a weapon. Its name is human reason. To question human reason is not unreasonable, but to question the Wisdom of the Infinite is foolish audacity. How can we judge His Wisdom without a corresponding Wisdom?
Humanity has a host of enemies. Of these, by far the most terrible is lack of knowledge. This ignorance is the last thing in man to become impotent.
What is ignorance, after all? Ignorance is the hyphen between imperfection and limitation. Ignorance signifies weakness. The greatest of human weaknesses is to be consciously unconscious of any.
The atom bomb destroyed Hiroshima. Our conscious fondness for the night of ignorance can destroy our divine Ideal on earth. Even successive failures are not certain or adequate signs of the impossibility of God realisation. But spontaneous and stubborn fondness for ignorance is a true sign of this impossibility. Ignorance is power. When man uses this power he actually exercises his love of power. But when man is totally freed from the snares of ignorance, he will be able to offer his power of love to mankind. At that time man will have a new Name-God, and a new Home-Immortality.
September 30th, 1969.
Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.