Tuesday, September 9, 2014

(Sept 9,2014) Spiritual Message for the Day – Stages of Knowledge by Sri Swami Krishnananda

 Stages of Knowledge
Divine Life Society Publication: Chapter 11 The Philosophy of Religion by Sri Swami Krishnananda

It is said in the Yoga-Vasishtha that in the earliest stage of knowledge there is an inward inclination for search after truth. Self-consciousness, as it is available in the human level, is not supposed to be manifest in the lower kingdoms, the animal, the plant and the mineral. It is only at the human stage that discrimination is supposed to dawn, because self-consciousness is at the same time a capacity to discriminate and distinguish between what is proper and what is improper, and what is real and what is unreal. But it does not mean that every human being is in search of truth. While all can be regarded as men, some are, in fact, animal-men. They think like animals with an intensity of selfishness gone to the extreme, with a desire to grab and destroy and consume and with no consideration for others absolutely. This is the lowest state in which man can be evaluated. But there are superior individuals who have risen above the animal level, yet are intensely selfish nevertheless, who may be good to anyone only if the other is good to them, but bad if the other is bad to them. But man has to rise to the still higher level where he metes out only good to the other and cognises not the bad element. The good man is one who does good always, under every condition, and is not conditionally good. Beyond the good man is the saintly man, and still above, the Godman, whatever be our description of such a state of illumination.

It is only in the later stages of evolution that the spirit of search rises and fructifies in experience, firstly as a wish to be good. This is regarded as the first stage in knowledge. When man is not satisfied with the things of the world, when he begins to feel that there is something missing here, and that there ought to be a state of living superior to the earthly forms of life, and is eager to know what is behind this world, then he is in the first stage of knowledge (Subhechha).

When the enquiring spirit dawns, one does not merely rest with this spirit, he tries to work for its manifestation in practical life. One would run about here and there and try to find out how he can materialise this longing and make it a part of his living routine. Man, then, becomes a philosopher. A philosopher is in the second stage of knowledge (Vicharana). He employs his reasoning capacity and works through his logical acumen, trying to make sense out of this inward spirit of search for truth, and he utilises his whole life in study and analysis of the nature of things. 

In the third stage, man becomes a truly spiritual seeker. He does not remain a professor of philosophy or an academic seeker in the metaphysical sense, but a seeker in the practical field. He begins to practise knowledge and does not remain merely in a state of searching for it. The mind is gradually thinned out of all its jarring elements and it recognises no value in life except a unitive insight into truth. Practice is the motto of the seeker. He does things, and is not content to imagine them. This is the third stage of knowledge where one starts actually doing things, because he has already risen above the state of conceptualisation, rational study and philosophising. The mind is thinned out of desires for the external (Tanumanasi).

The fourth stage of knowledge is supposed to be that state when there are flashes of the divine light appearing before the meditative consciousness like streaks of lightning (Sattvapatti). It is not a continued vision, but a passing state of exaltation. A flash does not continue for a long time. It manifests itself suddenly for a second and then vanishes as an intense beam of light. This is the fourth state of consciousness, regarded as the first stage of realisation.

The fourth stage of knowledge mentioned is considered to be the initial indication of God coming. The earlier three are only stages of search and practice. The fourth is the first encounter with the supramundane. The condition of this first stage of realisation or the fourth stage of knowledge is designated as the condition of the Brahmavit, or knower of reality, where one begins to see, actually, what is there, rather than merely think intellectually or imagine in the mind.

Then the fifth stage is described as a higher realm still, where on account of the immense joy one experiences beyond description, one is automatically detached from all objective contacts of sense (Asamsakti). One does not 'practise' renunciation here. One is spontaneously relieved of all longings in the same way as when one wakes up from dream there is no longing for the wealth of the dream world. There are no more realities outside, even as the objects of dream are no more realities to one who is awake.

In the sixth stage, the seeking soul becomes a Godman, a veritable divinity moving on earth, where the world is no more before him but the blaze of the all-enveloping creative spirit spread out in its splendour and glory. He sees the substance of the world and not merely the form and the name. He beholds the forms but as constituting a single interconnected whole. The veil of space and time is lifted. The conditioning factors, earlier known as space, time and cause, and the internal empirical relationships, get transcended. One enters into the heart of all things, the selfhood of every being. Light commingles with light. As a candle flame may join a candle flame, the self gets attuned to the Universal Self. Here it is not a beholding through the senses or even a thinking by the mind, but being, as such. The materiality of the world vanishes (Padarthabhavana). The world then shines as a radiance and as delight. Earlier it was iron; now it is gold. The world does not really vanish, but it has become now a different thing. It has no form; it is a mass of brilliance. The objectness of the objects has gone; the externality of things is no more; space and time do not exist; one does not 'see' things, for one has 'become' things. And, still, there is a higher communion.

The seventh stage is not a stage of beholding anything at all. There is no beholder any more. The seer is not dissociated from the seen. There is nothing to act as a bar or a distinguishing line between the subject and the object. The universe no more stands there as an object of experience, it is the Subject of All-Experience. Here, the Universal Spirit is what it is; none is there to know it, or experience it. It is experience pure. It is experience itself, not an experience of something. Nothing can be said about it, for there is none to say anything. This is the final attainment (Turiya).

The seventh stage is also called, sometimes, 'liberation while living' (Jivanmukti). The body may be there, but it is no more a body for the knower. What a liberated soul feels, no one else can understand. There is no standard by which one can judge that person. The state is beyond imagination. What happens to the soul in liberation, one has no means to measure or convey. The Goal of life is reached.

Excerpts from:
Stages of Knowledge - The Philosophy of Religion by Sri Swami Krishnananda

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If you would like to contribute to the dissemination of spiritual knowledge please contact the General Secretary at:  generalsecretary@sivanandaonline.org

Monday, September 8, 2014

(Sept 8,2014) Spiritual Message for the Day – Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma by Sri Swami Krishnananda

 Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma
Divine Life Society Publication: The Philosophy of Religion by Sri Swami Krishnananda

In the knowledge process there are three ingredients involved: Pramatr, Pramana and Prameya, – the knower, the process of knowing, and the object of knowledge. The knower, or the Pramatr, comes in contact with the Prameya, or the known object, through the medium called Pramana, or the knowing process. What does one mean by these three items, – the knower, the knowing process, and the known object? The knowing process is the illuminating link connecting the knower with the object that is known. It has to be an illuminating or illumined process, because knowledge is always illumination. It is a light which is of a peculiar nature, not like others as the sunlight. It is a movement of self consciousness.

With difficulty can one explain what consciousness is. Everyone is aware that oneself is, and one need not ask for an explanation of what that phenomenon is. This clarity of one's awareness that one exists is an illustration of what consciousness, or awareness, is, or has to be. If anybody wants to know what consciousness is, he has only to close his eyes for a few seconds, and feel how he knows that he is. This intriguing experience of one's knowing that he is, is consciousness operating. In this consciousness of one's being there is also the root of the urge to know that other things are also there, apart from oneself.

Consciousness of the knower is called Pramatr-Chaitanya. Chaitanya is consciousness; Pramatr is the knower. The knowing consciousness of the knower as existing in himself, or itself, is Pramatr-Chaitanya. It moves in some particular manner, or rather, it appears as if it is moving. It is omnipresent and, so, to say that it moves would be an inaccurate statement. Yet, it looks as if it is moving, for a reason which is to account for the 'externality' of the world of objects. 

There is a thing called mind within man. The mind is charged with consciousness, as a copper wire may be charged with electricity: The wire becomes live when it allows the movement of electric energy through it. Likewise, the mind becomes live, and one says 'the mind moves'. The wire is not electricity; even so, the mind is not consciousness. Yet, when one touches the wire, one receives a shock, because the force and the medium cannot be separated from each other. In the same way, we may say, the mind is consciousness. It is not consciousness in one way, and it is consciousness in another way. The process of the enlivening of the mind by the presence of consciousness within is the incentive given to the knowing process. It is as if life is induced into an inanimate object. The mind is an urge within to move outwardly. It is not a thing or a substance. It is a faculty which pushes everyone outside. The mind pushes itself beyond itself. And, so, when consciousness operates through the mind, it looks as if the consciousness is also drawn towards an external something. What moves actually is the mind and not consciousness. This movement of the mind attended with consciousness is called Pramana, or the knowing process.

The Vedanta psychology holds that the mind assumes the shape of its object. This form which the mind assumes is called a Vritti. A Vritti is a modification of the mind in terms of a particular object. When a form is known, or an object is contacted, the mind is supposed to envelop that object. This process of the enveloping of the object by the mind is called Vritti-Vyapti. Vyapti is pervasion. The pervasion by the mind of a particular location called the object is Vritti-Vyapti. However, it is not enough if the mind assumes merely the shape or the form of the object. One has to be aware that the object is there. This awareness that the object is there is due to the presence of consciousness in this moving process called the mind. The illumination of the presence of the form called the object is termed Phala-Vyapti. So, a twofold activity takes place when an object is known, viz., the mind pervades the form and the consciousness illumines the form. The knowledge of the object is actually the knowledge of a form. The form is made available to perception by the activity of the mind, and the awareness of it arises on account of the consciousness attending upon the mind.

The point is that the object cannot be wholly material. If it is to be material, consciousness cannot illumine it. Consciousness is qualitatively different from the object which is material, supposing that it is material. The Vedanta psychology holds that the object cannot be material because consciousness knows that the object is there, and it comes in contact with the object. This is possible only if it has some similarity with the object, which, again, makes one conclude that the principle of consciousness is somehow inherent in the object, also. This is a gradual deduction that is made from the premise that knowledge of the object is possible. The conclusion, therefore, is that consciousness is potentially inherent in the object. The Vedanta calls it Vishaya-Chaitanya (object-consciousness), and not merely Vishaya (object). Here, Vishaya-Chaitanya or object-consciousness does not mean consciousness 'of' the object, but object which is itself a phase of consciousness.

Consciousness is indivisible, and so it has to be infinite. It cannot be finite, for the very knowledge of the finitude of consciousness would suggest the infinitude of it. It has to be infinite, and, therefore, external to it none can be; no object can exist outside consciousness.

Thus, what is called an object turns out to be a phase of consciousness. It is a formation of consciousness itself. The Self collides with the Self; the Atman comes in contact with the Atman. This is the reason why we love the things of the world. This is the view of Sage Yajnavalkya as propounded in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. There is so much love for things because one is seeing one's own Self in things. The attraction that one feels for the objects of the world is caused by the presence of one's own universality hidden in the objects. Otherwise, nothing can attract anyone. One would not even know of its existence, what to speak of attraction.

The World Is a Flood of Consciousness 

The knowledge process, which is the blending of the Pramatr and the Prameya through the Pramana, illustrates that the world is a veritable flood of consciousness. "Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma," says the Upanishad; the whole universe is the Absolute appearing as if it is external to itself. The objects of the world, the things that are before everyone, are facets of consciousness. God Himself is in front of man, as it were. The Purusha Sukta of the Veda tells us that all these things that are seen are the limbs of the One Purusha, the All-Being. Every atom, every ingredient, every location or point of objectivity is the head of the Cosmic Being. God alone is. The Absolute is the only reality. This is the conclusion that metaphysical idealism draws, which does not mean that external objects do not exist. Only, the objects are not isolated material entities. Things are not what they seem.

The outermost probe of science has coincided with the innermost probe of the philosophers. The deepest self of man is identical with the outermost reality that is the universe. The Atman is Brahman. Thou art That; Tat Tvam Asi. 

The process of knowledge has led to a grand discovery that there is One Being in the universe and that God alone exists.

Excerpts from:
Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma - The Philosophy of Religion by Sri Swami Krishnananda

If you would like to purchase the print edition, visit:
If you would like to contribute to the dissemination of spiritual knowledge please contact the General Secretary at:   generalsecretary@sivanandaonline.org

Sunday, September 7, 2014

(Sept 7,2014) Spiritual Message for the Day – Be Free in Action by Sri Swami Sivananda

 Be Free in Action
Divine Life Society Publication: Secret of Karma Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

Every thought and every deed of yours will generate certain tendencies which will affect your life here and hereafter. If you do good actions with a selfless spirit, you will soar high into the regions of bliss and peace. As you sow so shall you reap.

Good actions generate good thoughts. Wrong actions bring pain, misery and unhappiness. Everyone of us is governed by the law of action and reaction. Your present personality is the total result of your previous actions and thoughts. Your future depends upon your present action. Man moulds his own destiny.

Actions by themselves do not bind a person. It is the attachment and identification in regard to the work that binds us and brings pain and misery. It is the motive that binds you. It is the motive that liberates you.

Work, but work with detachment. In every act kindle the light of divine love. Always remember your essential divine nature and act in the world in a spirit of divine dedication. This world is ruled by the Lord's eternal laws. In the east, the great law of cause and effect is called karma. In the New Testament the same truth is expressed in the words: "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap". 

Actions produce samskara (mental impressions) that coalesce and form tendencies. Tendencies develop into habits and character. Evil deeds generate bad character.

Actions, without the idea of agency, without expectation of fruits, without attachment to the action, and being balanced in success and failure, will not bind you. Selfless actions purify your heart and lead to the attainment of wisdom of the self.

Karma Yoga is skill in action. It is a great art. You have to take as much interest in each act that you perform daily, as an artist takes in his dearly loved paintings. Note how, after keen deliberation, the artist puts the brush. His entire mind is centred on the work in hand; his entire being is focussed on the painting he works, forgetting his very own self. This should be your attitude. Take this interest in all that you do and at the same time be detached from all your actions. Then you will not be bound to samsara (the wheel of birth and death).

Excerpts from:
Be Free in Action  - Secret of Karma Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

If you would like to purchase the print edition, visit:
If you would like to contribute to the dissemination of spiritual knowledge please contact the General Secretary at:     generalsecretary@sivanandaonline.org