By Swami Chinmayananda
Counted money belongs to others; possessed money alone belongs to us. So, too, gathered knowledge belongs to others; digested knowledge alone is ours.
Gathered knowledge is mere bookish knowledge; digested knowledge is experienced wisdom. Gathered knowledge makes one informed; digested knowledge makes one transformed. With gathered knowledge, one continues to negatively react; with digested knowledge one learns to positively respond. Gathered knowledge is etched only in one’s memory whereas digested knowledge becomes a part of one’s personality. Gathered knowledge strengthens the ego; digested knowledge dissolves the ego. Gathered knowledge may help us gather outside riches; digested knowledge helps us experience the inner riches. Gathered knowledge keep us bound even after death; digested knowledge gives you liberation even while living.
However, study of scriptures form an important part of spiritual practice. It gives us the clarity regarding what is the goal to reach, how to reach it, what are the obstacles enroute, how to tackle the obstacles, what are the signs that we’re progressing in the right direction. This guidance is very much necessary for a spiritual seeker.
But once having gained the information, one must actually walk the path; else all this information will be futile. Instead of just collecting the sign posts, one should actually visit the place.
A seeker asked a saint, “How many scriptures should we study? There are so many that an entire lifetime may not be sufficient to study them!”
The saint replied, “How many mirrors do you need to see your face?”
The seeker said “Only one”
The saint smiled and replied, “Scriptures are like mirrors. The physical mirror shows you your outer physical face, while the scriptural mirror will show you your real face, your real nature! Hold the mirror in the right position, and you see your face. Study of even one scripture in the right way will take you to your real self.”
Scriptures are like torch light. It shows the way; but to reach the destination one must walk the path. Many times, scriptures meant to liberate us themselves may bind us! Our vast learning may create arrogance in us, and we’re more interested in showing off our learning and gaining some worldly praise and honor than in improving ourselves through the teachings of the scripture.
“Mere putting the sugar into the coffee is not enough; one must stir it, then alone the coffee tastes sweet. So, too, unless our personality has become sweet, our study of scriptures has not yet served the purpose.”