Naropa was a great scholar, a great pundit, with ten thousand disciples of his own. One day he was sitting surrounded by thousands of scriptures–ancient, very ancient, rare. Suddenly he fell asleep, must have been tired, and he saw a vision.He saw a very, very old, ugly, horrible woman–a hag. Her ugliness was such that he started trembling in his sleep. It was so nauseating he wanted to escape–but where to escape, where to go? He was caught, as if hypnotized by the old hag. Her eyes were like magnets. “What are you studying?” asked the old woman. He said, “Philosophy, religion, epistemology, language, grammar, logic.” The old woman asked again, “Do you understand them?” Naropa said, “Of course… Yes, I understand them.” The woman asked again, “Do you understand the word, or the sense?” Thousands of questions had been asked to Naropa in his life–thousands of students always asking, inquiring–but nobody had asked this: whether he understands the word, or the sense. And the woman’s eyes were so penetrating–those eyes were going to the very depth of his being, and it was impossible to lie. To anybody else he would have said, “Of course I under-stand the sense,” but to this woman, this horrible-looking woman, he had to say the truth. He said, “I understand the words.” The woman was very happy. She started dancing and laughing, and her ugliness was transformed; a subtle beauty started coming out of her being. Thinking, “I have made her so happy. Why not make her a little more happy?” Naropa then said, “And yes, I understand the sense also.” The woman stopped laughing, stopped dancing. She started crying and weeping and all her ugliness was back–a thousandfold more. Naropa said, “Why are you weeping and crying? And why were you laughing and dancing before?” The woman said, “I was happy because a great scholar like you didn’t lie. But now I am crying and weeping because you have lied to me. I know–and you know–that you don’t understand the sense.” The vision disappeared and Naropa was transformed. He escaped from the university; he never again touched a scripture in his life. He became completely ignorant, he understood–the woman was nobody outside, it was just a projection.
It was Naropa’s own being, through knowledge, that had became ugly. With this much understanding, that “I don’t understand the sense,” ugliness was transformed immediately into a beautiful phenomenon, which we now know as ‘emergence‘.
Source: Ancient Indian story – retold.