The Art of Receiving Knowledge by Swami Krishnananda by Swami Krishnananda

Baba Times Digest© | 14 March 2014 13:53 EST | New York Edition

The Art of Receiving Knowledge

Divine Life Society Publication: The Art of Receiving Knowledgeby Swami Krishnananda

“By God’s grace alone is the tendency towards the Absolute explicable.”

Precondition of the reception of knowledge

In the art of the reception of knowledge, we have to be prepared in the same manner as any good artist would equip himself or herself for the execution of the task. The precondition of the reception of knowledge is the capacity to receive. The process of the receiving of knowledge is an art which demands of the seeker an uncanny preparation and a suitable disposition of the mind. Overenthusiasm is not a virtue because anything that is beyond its limits is likely to come back to its original state, and when the heat subsides there will be no enthusiasm and no energy to move forward. The prejudice of the emotion and the intellect has to be avoided very carefully when we are eager to receive the knowledge that can save us from the pains of life.

Wisdom is different from learning

Learning does not save us, though it can help us in a limited purpose. The knowledge which we are really after is to bring our mind to a permanent state of composure. Just as when a distinguished guest comes to our house we are eager to make the place clean, sweep the cobwebs, dust the floor, decorate the seats, and so on, a sort of preparation is demanded of us for the reception of the higher illumination, the knowledge that we are seeking. If we are already filled, we cannot be filled again with something else. So empty thyself, and then only I can fill thee, not before that.

If we study the lives of sadhakas, it is seen that in the end, years of effort appear to go in vain because while the effort was there, it was not properly directed.

The practice of yoga, the living of the spiritual life, is the ultimate task upon which we are now to embark. But before we enter into any field of activity, it is very essential to know what our powers are, what our strength is. Any work needs a proper instrument for working, and here the instrument is our own self. Our instrument in the reception of knowledge is our own body, our own mind, our own intellect, our own feeling, our individuality, our personality. Have we the needed powers, the equipment to tune ourselves to those conditions which are amenable to the entry of knowledge into our personality?

We must be very humble. The might of the cosmos, the majesty of the universe, is such that before it our personality pales into insignificance. We can be blown away like a dry leaf by the wrath of nature.

There is a difference between learning and physical enlightenment. The learning of colleges is information about an object – knowledge of the structure of things, knowledge about something. It is not knowledge of being.  But knowledge that is en rapport with the object is spiritual knowledge. Intellectual and emotional preparations are more important than the studies that we have to make subsequently.

Search for Knowledge

We cannot be called a good person as long we have not got this virtue of humility, because humility comes by the knowledge of our true nature. When we know what we really are, we automatically become humble. As we do not know what we are, as we have a wrong idea, a wrong notion of what we are, we become vain, audacious and arrogant.

The search for knowledge is a search for the facts of life, which include facts of our own self. The primary object of investigation is not some distant thing or entity, but that which is nearest. That which is nearest to us is our own self. When we are going to use the instrument of our personality in knowing the facts of other objects in the world, our efforts will be a failure if the instrument is not up to the mark.

The essentialities of life are identical in all the ages, so the principle approach prescribed for the reception of knowledge cannot change. It flows from the Master, the Guru. “A Guru is one,” says the Upanishads, “who is a Brahma-srotriya and a Brahma-nishta – one who is well versed in spiritual lore, and one who is also practically and personally established in the experience of spiritual truth.”

Knowledge is the opposite of ego

Knowledge is the condition where the ego completely melts like camphor, without any residuum. So where there is even a trace of ego, there is no knowledge. Where one becomes one’s own Guru and thinks there is no one equal to oneself, knowledge is far.

We should be very simple and very humble. You should not think that you possess all the knowledge. Knowledge and words of wisdom may come even from a child, and good conduct even from an enemy.

The universe is vast, beyond the ken of our perception and understanding. The object of knowledge is infinite. It has no limits; therefore, we can never be fully possessed of the entirety of knowledge at any time in the world. There is always something over and above us, beyond us.

The search for wisdom

Difficult is the search for wisdom. Difficult it is to find a Guru. Most difficult is God-realization. But one of the qualifications expected of the disciple is tenacity. We have always to remember that the object of our quest will not come at the very outset. It is mud and dust and dirt and thorn and trouble that we see in the beginning. So is knowledge, a difficult thing to acquire. It requires persistent effort, humility of attitude, and the readiness, which is rare to find in people – the readiness to gain knowledge from wherever it is available.

That which we are searching for, that which we are asking for, that which is the answer to our questions is behind the question itself, is at the background of our minds. It is the presupposition of our very existence. This is why the search for knowledge has become so difficult. It is the I of the I, the understanding of the understanding, the mind of the mind, says the Upanishad. The eyes through which these physical eyes behold objects, that eye behind the eye, is the object of our quest.

Ordinary effort does not bring success in spiritual life

What is needed is a different type of effort altogether. It is a forward movement, towards that which the eyes cannot see, the senses cannot grasp, the objects cannot exhaust in their confinement. This knowledge is limitless expanse, and therefore, it cannot be observed as the observed things of the world.

You cannot be a big person in the world and also a big person in the eyes of God. That would not be possible. Every gain in the realm of the spirit looks like a comparative corresponding loss in the realm of nature and of the world, which we are not prepared to accept. We do not want to lose anything from the world of nature or the world of our personal lives. Therefore, we have received nothing of the divine life, and God seems to be far away from us yet, almost an impossibility still.

Be ready for the grace of God

When you are ready to receive the higher knowledge, the Guru will come to you. While it is our duty to keep ourselves ready for the reception of knowledge, the entry of it into our personality is God’s business. We can plough the field, sow the seeds, allow the water to flow, but we cannot create the harvest. The harvest shall take care of itself, provided we have properly done everything that is within our capacity.

Again, the primary precondition of the reception of knowledge in spiritual life is goodness of conduct and humility of behavior. In the light of the majesty of the Almighty, the dignity of the cosmos, the vastness of knowledge, and difficulty of attaining the Immortal, it is very important.

He that is on the ground fears no fall. Be small, be humble, be good, be the most unknown and unbefriended. Let there not be any misconception that importance in the eyes of people or status in society and the world has anything to do with spiritual life. It has to be made clear before your mind’s eye so that your search may be an honest asking and not merely a duplicity or self-deceit of the heart.

With prayers to the Almighty, the Supreme Being, may we tread on the path of this supreme attainment which is God-realization, the realization of Truth or the Self, which may, we hope, come to us by the grace of God in this very life.

Excerpts from:

The Art of Receiving Knowledgeby Swami Krishnananda

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