Knowledge is Meant to be Lived

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Radiant Immortal Atman! Beloved seekers and sadhaks who are gathered together here in the spiritual presence of worshipful and beloved Holy Master Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji, in his sacred samadhistan at this holy hour! You have been here for a period of chanting, kirtan, guru stotra, santi path and silent meditation with which you have opened your new day in a very sattvic and holy way, so as to give it a proper spiritual direction, so that this bhav may be carried throughout the remainder of the day until you retire for the night. In participating in this spiritual sadhana, I have the good fortune to place before you an important truth about Yoga and Vedanta, an important truth about philosophy and spirituality.

Philosophy and spirituality, of which you are all students, are to be known, but more than acquiring knowledge, a student of philosophy and spirituality must also try to acquire the practical wisdom of how to fit this newly gained knowledge into his daily life, thoughts, words and actions. In short, “how can I live in the light of this philosophy? how can I base my life upon this philosophy? whatever I have learned in Yoga, how can I turn it into a new form, into my day-to-day life and actions?” This you must know.

Philosophy and Vedanta are both for knowing and for living. If they are only known, you become a pundit, a scholar, a professor, a lecturer. You will be highly regarded. You will be able to teach philosophy to others, impart the knowledge of Yoga to others, but you yourself will not be a Yogi, a sadhak. For it is whether the philosophy, which has made you a learned person and pundit, is seen to manifest in your everyday life and actions, philosophy in action, philosophy in application—that determines whether or not you can be regarded as a spiritual person.

This is the special difference between secular philosophers, who have learned philosophy in order to become professors, doctors, pundits, writers, become world famous, and those who have studied philosophy in order to bring about a transformation in their lives. The latter have studied philosophy, not to know what philosophy has to say, but in order to know how it can “transform my life, bring me from the darkness of ignorance to the light of wisdom; how it can bring me out of maya, above maya, beyond maya; how I can live this philosophy and attain liberation.” Philosophy for him means attainment of liberation; it is not for prapanca (worldly life) but for paramartha (supreme value).

We all know that philosophy teaches that this is a world of dvandvas (pairs of opposites): sukha, duhkha (pain, pleasure); harsha, soka (joy, grief); labha, hani (gain, loss); jaya, parajaya (victory, defeat). All this we know, but if a good thing happens and we rejoice and its opposite happens and we are shocked, then we are not true philosophers. We have not gained anything from the knowledge that the world consists of dvandvas. It is only when this knowledge can bring us a firm abidance in unshaken equanimity, when our consciousness is not assailed by anything, it becomes firmly fixed, unshakable, then you are more than a philosopher, you are a sthitaprajna (one who is unshakably established in superconsciousness).

In this way, knowledge of Yoga, knowledge of dharma—all these knowledges—if they are merely known, it is better than not knowing them; but if you stop short of living them, then you have committed a great blunder.

We know that this world is made up of three gunassattva, rajas, tamas. The Bhagavad Gita says which of them is desirable, which of them should be treated with caution, which of them should be rejected. You know that, and if your life becomes a conscious process of living in such a way as to be constantly engaged in encouraging sattva, rejecting tamas and being wise and cautious in dealing with your rajas, then you are a sadhak, you are a Yogi, you are a jnani.

Otherwise, even if you know that this world is made up of trigunatmika maya (maya characterised by the three gunas) and that sattva, rajas and tamas are constantly present in every little thing, if this knowledge is only knowledge in you, if in your daily life there is not the careful selection of sattva, the rejection of tamas and the careful handling and directing of rajas, then you are only a sushka (dry, empty) jnani, a sushka Vedantin.

Your Vedanta will not flower; it will not give fruit. It will not keep on growing; it has no scope for expansion or growth or unfoldment, because it is dry Vedanta, sushka Vedanta. And sushka Vedanta will soon become a burden; it will cease to benefit you even though you may get admiration from the world. But, does the sadhak come into the spiritual life in order to get admiration from the world? Does the sadhak study philosophy only in order to know, or is it to understand from that knowledge “how I can live my life in a sublime way, how I can wisely direct my path towards the goal of liberation.”

What is the purpose in knowing? This has to be well thought out. The correct attitude towards all philosophy, all Vedanta, all Yoga has to be cultivated, and it should be constantly, actively applied in daily life.

If we are in an Ashram, we are also in a world, and as anywhere else, the dvandvas are here. The three gunas are also here. It is up to you how you live in the Ashram. If you wish to have maximum benefit out of Uttarkhand, Ganges bank, a Guru’s teaching, spiritual life, then this process of the selecting and welcoming of sattva, the rejecting of tamas and the wise handling and channelising of rajas, along with constant discrimination between the dvandvas must be going on in your life. Then it will yield results.

Now it is up to us, each one of us to ask: “Does this very special quality, does this sadhana of enquiry, discrimination, selection, rejection, does it characterise my life here?” If it does, you will know the reason why you have progressed so much. If it does not, you will know the reason for not having progressed so much. The environment, the atmosphere, the surroundings, the set-up are not to blame. If you know whether you are doing this or not, then you will understand why you are progressing or why you are not progressing. You will know where to set your life right. This is a very essential study for all sadhaks, Vedantins and Yogis who are earnest seekers, who are jijnasus, who have got keen mumukshutva.

Yes, Gurudev has done a very special act of grace. Perhaps he knew human tendency. So ninety percent of his spiritual writings and teachings are admonitions: “Do this, do that, think in this way, act in this way, live in this way, engage in Yoga in such and such a way, carry on sadhana in this way.” He solved the problem directly. He did not merely use sushka knowledge. Even while he gave knowledge, he immediately said, “Do it,” and showed the way how to do it. He emphasised action, emphasised kriya, emphasised actual abhyasa. Perhaps that was his greatest gift to the world of sadhaks and seekers? God bless you?

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