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Realm of Shame.

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Third is the realm of shame. When a person knows what is to be known, then only does he realize his own ignorance, hence the shame. The ignorant man swaggers about in arrogance. Without modesty the ignorant are totally unaware of the ignorance that fills them. An ignorant person struts about as a wise man. Only the wise knows how vast is his ignorance. He feels: What do I know? Hardly anything! Socrates said, "When I became enlightened the one thing I knew for certain was that I knew nothing." When knowledge becomes complete this is what you know -- that you know nothing, that you are nothing. You become a zero. This zero Nanak calls the realm of shame. Then you are filled with shame: What am I? Nothing worthy of the name, and how I prided myself on my knowledge -- swollen like a bubble! How I exaggerated the little I knew.

Mulla Nasruddin had just returned from a journey. He was telling his father, "There was such a storm on the river as was never experienced before. The waves rose fifty feet high."

His father said, "You are exaggerating a bit too much. I have spent fifty years going up and down this river and I have never seen waves like you describe. The river never rises that high."

Mulla said, "Be sensible, father. Everything is increasing. Just look at how the price of grain has gone up."

Man finds ways and means to support his exaggeration. And on this stands his greatest exaggeration -- that I am. It is the biggest lie in this world. If the existence of God is the greatest truth, the existence of the I is the greatest lie, for two I's cannot exist at the same time. Existence is one. If all existence is one, it can have only one center. But each man, each individual person constantly proclaims 'I am'. The enlightened person is filled with shame at the excesses and exaggerations he formerly engaged in. What proclamations he made over mere nothings! There was only a large bubble that burst at the slightest touch; there were paper boats that disintegrated as soon as they touched the water; there was a house of cards that fell in the slightest breeze. But how many exaggerations he indulged himself in for them!

Mulla Nasruddin was arrested and brought before the court for using foul language about a well-known politician. When the magistrate asked him why he called him a big ass, Mulla said, "Your Honor, it was not my fault. I know the high position this gentleman holds. He is our minister. But what could I do when he himself asked me, 'Do you know who I am?' I had to tell him."

Your eyes ask the same question of others: Do you know who I am? If someone's feet trips you, or you are pushed by someone, you turn back as if to say, "Don't you see who I am?" The fact is that you do not know who you are. Who knows himself? Those who really know, their egos are annihilated. As long as you do not know, the I exists. Next time a person asks you, "Do you know who I am?" please ask him in return, "Do you?"

It is all arrogant talk when a man asks, "Do you know how rich I am? Don't you know my status, my position?" He implies that he can get you in trouble, that he is a dangerous man. It is a proclamation of violence. You say that, only when you want to convey your power to destroy the other person.

All your arrogance is violence. Ego is the thread of violence. The one who knows is not even aware of his being; he does not know who he is, he is lost. The ignorant remains arrogant and proclaims, "I am." He who is enlightened stops this language.

So Nanak calls this third part the realm of shame. He says, when the enlightened one is asked to speak he does not know what to say, and to whom. He has nothing to say, he makes no claims. Even before God he is filled with shame, for in his heart he is aware of the endless false claims he has made before. God in His compassion graced him with enlightenment! If, as he stood before Him and conveyed: Here I am! Accept me! it would be total arrogance. If he prayed it was only that he might be accepted by Him. If he did a good act, if he built a temple or mosque or gurudwara, it was only to show Him that he was something.

The wise man becomes overcome with shame; with what face will he stand before Him? All your appearances are false, made up to show the world. Just think, if today you were to stand before God which of your faces would you show Him? The one you show to your wife, your boss, or your servant? Will you show Him the face that you take to your sweetheart or the one you assume before the lowly and poor? Which of these masks will you put on? Before those who are powerful your tail keeps wagging and you try to please in every little way. Your appearance bears the expression of flattery and wily charm. And how stiff is your posture before a lowly person! From him you expect the same flattery and attention as you give to those who are higher than you. You expect him to wag his tail and appreciate every word that comes out of you. Remember, he who demands flattery has had to flatter someone somewhere, and is actually taking revenge. But the person who has seen himself correctly, never praises anyone nor expects praise from others. There is one God. If He is praised that is enough. From whom is he to ask praise? For everywhere it is He.

Nanak says, one dies of dreadful shame when one stands before truth; for one finds that not a single appearance is worth the name. All are dirty, all are false. Zen masters tell their disciples: "When you have discovered your original face your search is over." They exhort them to find the face they had before they were born, to look for the face that will be with them after death. All intervening faces are false. Psychologists say that if a person tries to go back into his past by reawakening his memory he can only go up to the age of five or four, or at the most to three. He cannot go beyond that. The first three years of life cast no imprint on the mind. Why? Because till then you are so artless and simple that you have no mask. To have a memory one has to claim something.

The ego creates memory. All remembrances are the ego, which remembers everything and keeps account of every moment of your life. For the first three years you are so innocent, so guileless, you do not know who you are. You have no claim to anything. A three-year-old comes jumping and prancing and laughing aloud as he tells his mother, "I was last in the class today." He has no idea what it is to be first or to be last. The ego is not yet formed. He has no idea of caste or creed, of his house and home, high caste or low caste. He is blissfully unaware whether he is a brahmin or untouchable. He knows nothing yet. His face is without blemish. Only such a face can you present before God. But the parents begin their vicious training very early in life. They begin to impose the false masks from the very first day. The mother, at the very outset, expects the child to smile when she looks at him. If he does not she feels hurt. The child may not feel like smiling, but soon he learns that he must smile at his mother's glance, whether he likes it or not. The lying has started. The child gets his first mask. Then many, many more masks are added as the child grows up.

It becomes most embarrassing to stand before Him with these false faces, says Nanak. Whenever anybody becomes aware of this fact he is filled with shame. Then he looks and looks and cannot discover which one is authentic. The more he seeks, the more he is faced with other appearances, just as when you remove one layer of an onion another one appears; for the false is deposited on the mind in layer upon layer from infinite births. That is all that you have done in your infinite births, but when you remove them layer by layer, you find nothing remains -- except emptiness! Nanak says that when the emptiness emerges one is drowned in shame. One feels: What was I? I was nothing and yet I claimed to be this, and that. This is the shame that Nanak refers to as the third realm.

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