The Communication of Knowledge and the Communication of Understanding

Why did the Masters rarely preach, which we unhappily term lecture nowadays? Indeed did they ever - in the sense of our word lecture?

The words of the Buddha are usually in reply to a question posed by Subhuti, Mahatma or another, whose function that seems to be. The words of Krishna are in the form of a dialogue with Arjuna. We are authoritatively told that the character, strange to some of us, of the Upanishads, is due to this fact.

The words of Huang Po are replies to questions put by P'ei Hsin and others.

The Seeing of Reality of Padma Sambhava seems to be a kind of testament on the part of a dying man in reply to a general question put by the disciples surrounding his death-bed.

Nearly every word we have of the Maharshi is in reply to a question.

I think we can say that the great, the real masters, the Awakened, did not preach, or lecture, and that their rare utterances that are not technically replies to specific questions are nevertheless in fact replies to questions that are present in the minds of their audience.

The reason for this is not far to seek. Understanding, other than purely intellectual, demands a participation other than purely intellectual apprehension, and without such participation the discourse would be wasted, if not harmful.

But are not our lectures just this last?

Perhaps the Masters did not desire to teach, but only to enlighten?

(© RKP, 1960)

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