I am going to teach you the secrets that make up the path of knowledge. You will have to make a very deep commitment because this training is long and arduous. But you will learn in spite of yourself; that is the rule.
A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war: wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it might never live to regret it. When a man has fulfilled all four of these requisites, there are no mistakes for which he will have to account; under such conditions his actions lose the blundering quality of the acts of a fool. If such a man fails, or suffers a defeat, he will have lost only a battle, and there will be no pitiful regrets over that.
In order to follow the path of knowledge, one has to be very imaginative. On the path of knowledge, nothing is as clear as we’d like it to be. Nothing in this world is a gift, whatever has to be learned must be learned the hard way. Every time a man sets himself to learn, he has to labour as hard as anyone can, and the limits of his learning are determined by his own nature. Thus I see no point in talking about knowledge. Certain kinds of knowledge are too powerful for the strength you have, and to talk about them would only bring harm to you.
Fear of knowledge is natural; all of us experience it, and there is nothing we can do about it. This is because this knowledge is by definition ‘unknown’ to us before we learn it. The only viable answer is to learn to love the unknown. But on the other hand, no matter how frightening learning is, it is more terrible to think of a man without an ally or without knowledge. Man lives only to learn. And if he learns it is because that is the nature of his lot, for good or bad.
A warrior seeks knowledge that is useful now or that he knows will be useful later. The power of knowledge lies in its selection according to its usefulness. For what is the sense of knowing things that are useless? They will not prepare us for our unavoidable encounter with the unknown. Knowledge is frightening, but if a warrior accepts the frightening nature of knowledge he cancels out its awesomeness. Knowledge is a most peculiar affair, especially for a warrior. Knowledge for a warrior is something that comes at once, engulfs him, and passes on. Knowledge comes to a warrior, floating, like specks of gold dust, the same dust that covers the wings of moths. So for a warrior, knowledge is like taking a shower, or being rained on by specks of dark gold dust.
The path of knowledge is a forced one. In order to learn we must be spurred, and in the absence of someone to spur us we must spur ourselves. In the path of knowledge we are always fighting something, avoiding something, preparing for something; and that something is always inexplicable, greater, more powerful than us. The inexplicable forces will come to you. Later on it’ll be your own ally, so there is nothing you can do now but to prepare yourself for the struggle.
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