True knowledge has three characteristics. There is first a growth of light. There is something like what we can call illumination. The least level of experience of illumination is awakening –– one is awakened. In the Veda it was termed as the arrival of Usha, the arrival of dawn. We may have lot of information but there is no arrival of Usha in it, there is no awakening. That is the first mark, there is awakening. Once you are awake the whole world then seems to be different; it is like dreaming and coming to the state of awakening. What is the difference between the two? The first mark is the arrival of the glow of light. There is a shock and we find the world is not what we thought it to be; it is not the hum–drum of existence. There are depths and depths and heights and heights. Even this knowledge, this awakening to heights and depths and wideness –– in fact all true education begins with the perception of wideness, of depths and of heights. These three words are very important in all process of education. As you are educating yourself you must ask always these three questions. How wide have I become, how deep have I become, how high have I become? These are the three measures by which you can judge yourself, evaluate yourself in the true process of knowledge. With the awakening, the deepening, widening, heightening — these three processes begin to occur. When you begin to experience these three things you are entering into the threshold of knowledge. Even information can give you these three things. When you are informed about many things you experience to some extent this heightening, widening and deepening. But when you are truly awakened you begin to perceive the widenesses. You don’t merely see the shadows of widenesses or of deepening depths or of the heights. It is like hearing that Himalayas are the highest mountains; it is information about Himalayas and then you go and stand before the Himalayas and really see the glory in the daylight, of the snow peaks, the heights and heights, the rocks, piles upon piles. You begin to perceive the height of the Himalayas and become overwhelmed by it. But that is only the beginning.
Then there is the growth of the being. Information gives you growth of becoming. The true knowledge gives you growth of Being. And there is a difference between the two. The more you know through information the more you can deal with the world externally. Which is good by itself but it is not true knowledge. What is the difference between becoming and being? Being is the source of becoming. This is the first difference. In the process of becoming you fluctuate, it is like the flow of the river, there is a wavy movement. In the process of being you stabilise yourself, there is an experience of stability. You become sthanu. That is a Sanskrit word. You become stable, you become an unshakable mountain, an experience of possessing yourself, self–possession. When you possess in your palm something and when you see something outside you this is the difference between information and knowledge. With information you only stand before an object but in the knowledge you possess the object of knowledge. There is self–possession and then there is self–mastery. That is the third stage of true knowledge, self–mastery in which you find all that has to be known contained in it. It is not only that you have in your hands only a little thing, but you possess, you contain within yourself. And the Divine Teacher is interested in this task, in developing your Being.
So, as Sri Aurobindo says: “As we gain in clarity and the turmoil of egoistic effort gives place to a calmer self–knowledge, we recognise the source of the growing light within us. We recognise it retrospectively as we realise how all our obscure and conflicting movements have been determined towards an end that we only now begin to perceive, how even before our entrance into the path of the Yoga the evolution of our life has been designedly led towards its turning–point.” This is the experience of all who stand at the threshold of the true knowledge. As you stand at the threshold of yoga and you become awake to the necessity of yoga in your life you realise how the Divine himself was leading you towards that path even without your knowledge, even without your consent. All circumstances of life were determined as it were, so as to make you aware of the need of yoga. You recognise it retrospectively. You have already trodden the path to some extent and you look back retrospectively and then you come to know that this was the meaning of it. As Sri Aurobindo was taken to the Alipore jail and he asked the question: “Why am I taken to this jail?” He was removed from the field of his work in which he was fully engaged and he was cut suddenly from all that surrounding of that field of action and put into a prison where he could not even meet a single person apart from himself, apart from the sentries. Then retrospectively when he began to lead the life in Alipore jail as he began to contemplate and meditate on the Gita, on the Upanishads and when he heard the Supreme Lord himself Sri Krishna telling him: “There is a big work to be done. You have to tread a path of yoga, and a new path of yoga has to be created for mankind.” When he came to learn this, then retrospectively he understood why he was taken to the jail. It is retrospective; it is the Lord himself as a master, as a teacher.