What is Knowledge Doing for Us?
Sri Swami Chidananda
This article is a chapter from the book Seek The Beyond.
Worshipful homage to the supreme, eternal Cosmic Spirit Divine, the paramatman! Loving adorations to revered and beloved Holy Master Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj! They are both, through their grace and benedictions, the source and the cause of the knowledge that illumines our interior–the knowledge that illumines our intellect, the knowledge that illumines our path of life, the knowledge that illumines our ethical vision of what ought to be and what ought not to be.
They are the sources of that aspect of our knowledge, which is neither purely secular knowledge, nor is it the ultimate absolute explosion of knowledge–as one illumined soul termed it–the ultimate transcendental knowledge experience, anubhava jnana, by which one forever becomes illumined, one becomes an enlightened and a liberated being–the higher knowledge mentioned in the Upanishads, the para vidya.
In between these two there is an invaluable and blessed spiritual knowledge having the potential, power, capacity and capability of taking us upward from this environment of pure secular knowledge or pure book spiritual knowledge, the potential and the capacity of taking us upward from this plethora of unavoidable–as well as avoidable–knowledge that can become both an encumbrance as well as a support to a special ego, shastra abhiman, I know.
Here is a paradoxical situation where a certain type of knowledge can become a barrier for the dawn of wisdom or the dawn of higher essential spiritual knowledge. It can become an encumbrance, and it can become a supporter, a booster, of that very thing that is the quintessential factor of ignorance that holds the individual soul forever bound down to its false identity.
The grace of the Supreme and the benedictions of the Master must provide us with the necessary perception to distinguish between the knowledge that liberates and the knowledge that binds. Divine grace and the benedictions of the Master must also grant us the overwhelming desire to get rid of all that holds us bound down by enabling us to acknowledge that all our knowledge is but ignorance and that ultimately it is in stripping ourselves bare of this idea of I know that alone will be capable of taking us into true light, of making us simpler and simpler.
Strangely enough, in this outer plane of our earthly life, knowledge sometimes can co-exist with a darkness. Strangely enough, knowledge itself can become a hindrance to spiritual rebirth, progress. Knowledge can itself become a veil that hides the truth from us. It is the in-between knowledge that will help us. That is the crucial step, crucial factor that will help us discern which knowledge is a knowledge that binds us down–that constitutes spiritual ignorance and becomes our own binding chains–and which knowledge is the true and right knowledge that will take us from unrealities to Reality, from darkness to Light, and ultimately confer upon us immortality.
This we can only discern by observing what knowledge does to us as individual persons of this human family that was made in the image of God. What is happening to this being by the knowledge one acquires? It can only be known through observation, through the awareness of one’s own state. Is it stagnant, or is it day by day finding itself better than each yesterday? Is it in a process of unfoldment, of growth in holiness, in humility, in the cardinal graces and virtues such as faith, hope, charity, purity, compassion, truthfulness and all the daivi sampadas?
It is this awareness, this keen observation, and a continuous process of self-appraisal, self-examination–an impartial self-examination–with a deep, earnest desire to know the truth as it is, not varnished by our own self-appreciation and self-approval, but know the truth as it is very impartially, it is this constantly and continuous process of self-appraisal with perfect honesty, that is our mainstay in spiritual life and spiritual progress towards ultimate enlightenment, liberation and supreme blessedness.
So let our daily life contain, as part and parcel of its ongoing pattern, not only a special period set apart for this process of self-appraisal, self-observation, but have this process of honest, impartial self-appraisal constantly as part and parcel of our daily being and doing from dawn till dusk. This is the way. This is the true spiritual way.
And one who adheres to it will be making full use of the benedictions of the Master and the grace of God. And one who adheres to it will ultimately reach one’s destination and fulfil one’s destiny, one’s divine destiny. May we all take this way and walk diligently along this way. God bless you all!