From Knowledge To Experience

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Radiant Immortal Atman! Beloved and blessed children of the Divine! May the grace of Veda Bhagavan (the Lord manifest as the Vedas) be upon you all! Veda Bhagavan is the great Reality enshrined in the form of jnana, enshrined in the form of knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the knowing of things and wisdom is the understanding and experiencing of things. Therefore, wisdom is to knowledge what a fully ripened fruit would be to a fruit in its beginning stages—green, without growth, without juice, sweetness or fragrance, without the power to impart delight, without the inherent nourishment and strength-giving properties that become manifest in a fully ripened fruit, which is full of juice, full of sweetness and fragrance, full of nourishment and the power to delight, satisfy and sustain.

Knowledge enables you to know many things, but it does not itself make you wise. Knowledge is an intellectual process where a wide range of things are known, but it lacks depth and a living quality of being able to impel the knower to be what he knows. That subtle factor which makes knowing into vital being is a gradual ripening of that knowledge into experience and a deep and essential understanding of the relationship the knowledge has to the knower as well as to life and the life which the knower has to live.

Veda Bhagavan is the Supreme Experience, the Experience Absolute recorded for our knowing, but simultaneously Veda Bhagavan also contains the quintessence of wisdom and the highest pinnacles of knowledge. When knowledge rises above a certain point it matures into wisdom and gains a loftiness. Then it turns into a flash of intuition. Everything becomes revealed, everything becomes understood instantaneously. Intuition replaces knowledge, knowing turns into being, and life becomes infused by wisdom.

This process of the fruition of knowledge comes through a constant, earnest, sincere and reverential process of contemplating knowledge, reflecting over knowledge that has been obtained and, day by day, trying to apply this knowledge, live in the light of this knowledge, bring this knowledge into our daily thoughts, feelings, attitudes and reactions to life around us—people, things, occurrences, situations, experiences. In every one of them, apply your knowledge immediately. Let not knowledge be forgotten at that time.

Unfortunately, or a strange wonder it is, it is only at that time when knowledge should be applied, that it takes leave, is forgotten. Why? Because some other part of you dominates your consciousness. Unless you are keenly aware of this and deliberately make it a point to bring knowledge into active manifestation every step, every breath, every moment of your life, your knowledge will ever remain a sterile, unproductive burden upon you and not the valuable, indispensable asset and help it is meant to be.

Life is a multiple, relational process where the individual is placed amidst innumerable things and factors. Unconsciously we start developing attitudes, notions, biases, prejudices, preconceived ways of looking at and understanding or failing to understand things. In this process knowledge becomes side-lined and some other part of our psyche takes over. In spite of knowing, we still get caught in complications, caught and held a prisoner in a net woven by our failure to recognise that this knowledge is meant for me to know, to be and to do. Knowing and being and doing must fuse into one harmonious unitary process the moment one wakes up from sleep and moves into this waking world.

Although the great teacher Sankaracharya declared: “brahma satyam jagan-mithya jivo-brahmaiva naparah (Brahman alone is real, the world is unreal, the jiva is not other than Brahman)” as the ultimate thesis of his advaita philosophy of absolute monism, he did concede a relative reality to everything as long as the body is real to us, as long as our mind, thoughts and intellectual processes are real to us. That they are presently real to us we do not need to question, for we live every moment of our life moving, breathing, feeling through the body; we live every moment of our life being guided by thoughts, reason and desires. Therefore, it goes without saying that we are very much operating upon the plane of relative reality only. That alone is the reality to us, whereas the existence of a higher Reality is only to us a known item of information. I cannot even say it is a known fact, because a fact is something which has already been established by our own direct perception or experience, whereas the Brahman of Sankaracharya and the other great sages and seers, who had direct personal Brahmic knowledge and experience, is to the sadhak only a concept taken from the pages of books or heard from discourses.

Therefore, if this stage of consciousness of relative reality is to gradually become the stairway to reach a transcendental state of non-dual consciousness, then every moment of this stage of relative consciousness has to be utilised to this end. Then alone the possession of this knowledge, these facts of information, can gradually become to us a progressive, enlightening, unfolding process. Then only this knowledge can gradually begin to transform itself into sadhana, into Yoga, into upasana and into abhyasa which the great World Teacher Lord Krishna says is the one and only way of overcoming the world, which means it is indispensable.

The essence of the jivatma is a constant process of seeing the unreal, mistaking it for the real, and ever forgetting the Reality. This constant process is the great barrier to be surmounted and crossed. Lord Krishna says this terrible barrier is very difficult to surmount, but not impossible. It can be surmounted through unremitting practice, abhyasa. Practice, therefore, is the essence of this process of knowledge maturing into wisdom and ultimately becoming fruitful as experience.

As early as the very earliest Upanishad they brought down this truth of the one, non-dual Brahman into normal daily life. They said: “That Being is the infant in the arms of its mother, the little boy or girl running and playing about, the youth going to school, the fully grown adult, and that Being is also the feeble, old person tottering with the help of a stick.” Now, this is not samadhi, this is not an experience in a mountain cave or in desert solitude. It is not in the depths of the forest, but it is an everyday experience of each and every individual in this world. Thus the admonition says that we must see that Supreme Reality as being manifest, as being seen in and through every being in this world.

This knowledge thus becomes applied; it is brought into every perception—sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, thought. Whatever is thought of, whatever has been thought of, and whatever can and will be thought of, you bring your knowledge into it and know the Reality behind all perceived appearances. Thus, moment by moment, day after day, ascend, move towards that ultimate state of illumination, enlightenment. Become liberated thus.

If thus you begin to practise this knowledge, this unity, make knowledge into abhyasa, then how can delusion catch hold of you? How can there be sorrow if you thus make knowledge a means of abhyasa? If knowledge is only kept for your svadhyaya time, reading time or discussion time, and if it does not free you from moha (delusion) and free you from soka (grief) in actual day-to-day life, of what use is it?

Yo mam pasyati sarvatra sarvam cha mayi pasyati (He who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me).” “One who thus perceives Me, who is devoted to Me, who worships Me, who sees Me in all things, that being is not repelled by anything, does not hate the world, nor is the world repelled from such a being. And such a being is very, very dear to Me.” What the Lord expects a devotee to be, He has plainly stated for our reference in the last eight verses of the twelfth chapter of the Gita. It is not to remain inside the Bhagavad Gita; it is to become enshrined in our hearts. For the information, for the guidance, and as a term of reference for His devotees of all times, in all places, He has left these precious utterances, these wisdom teachings of His.

So whether you are a dvaita (dualist) Vedantin and a devotee, or whether you are an advaita (non-dualist) Vedantin and a devotee, whatever is known, whatever has been told, is to be taken with you into life from the moment you wake up until you go to bed at the end of the day. Throughout your entire day, your entire life, this knowledge is to be constantly by your side, in your mind, in your heart. And every step of the way is to be a continuous process of bringing this knowledge into a relationship with everything that you are and everything that you do.

Veda Bhagavan is, therefore, this embodied jnana in the form of eternal teachings. And how we should relate ourselves with Veda Bhagavan is told to us in simple terms by our great law givers like Manu—vedo-nityam-adhiyatam (Veda should be read daily). So study the Vedas daily, and whatever has been told in the Vedas let it be practised. Day by day go to the source, refresh your knowledge and then apply it. Practise it, follow it, live it.

Ponder these things. Ponder day after day and live a life of knowledge as an applied process-knowledge in practice, knowledge in living. And thus make life itself a gradual process of the fruition of this knowledge into wisdom and ultimately into experience that makes you a liberated being. Gurudev’s choicest blessings be upon you in this slow and steady process of growth!

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