Chapter 21 — Earning a Living from the Scriptures

Vasishta continued:—

A wise man must always conduct himself wisely and not with mere show or affectation of wisdom, because even the ignorant are preferable to affected and pretended lovers of learning.

Rama asked, “Tell me sage, what is meant by true wisdom and by the show or affectation of it? What is the good or bad result of either?”

Vasishta replied:—

A friend to learning is someone who reads the scriptures and teaches to earn his livelihood without endeavoring to investigate into the principles of his knowledge. This is learning only to earn a living in a busy life without showing its true effect upon the improvement of a person’s understanding. Someone satisfied with his food and clothing as the best gains from his learning is known as an amateur and novice in the art of explaining the scriptures. He who performs righteous and ceremonial acts as ordained by law with an intent to gain results is called a probationer in learning and is nearly to be crowned with knowledge.

Knowledge of the soul is reckoned as the true knowledge. All other knowledge is merely a semblance of it, being empty of essential knowledge. Those who are content with bits of secular learning without receiving spiritual knowledge, all their labor in this world is in vain. They are called mere novices in learning.

Rama, you must not rest here with your heart’s content unless you can rest in the peace of your mind with your full knowledge of the knowable one. You must not remain like a novice in learning in order to enjoy the fruits of this painful world. 10 Let men work honestly on earth to earn their bread and let them take their food for sustenance of their lives. Let them live to inquire after truth and let them learn that truth which is calculated to prevent their return to this miserable world.