Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Intellect, Sadhana and Wisdom

by Swami Rama

[This passage has been taken from the book Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad-Gita, by Swami Rama, published in 1985 by the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA]

Theologians, scholars, and priests theorize and write commentaries on scriptures such as the Vedas. Yet, however profound their theoretical knowledge may be, they cannot assimilate that knowledge and live according to it without sadhana. Intellectualization is easy, but sadhana is difficult.  Many scholars make erudite speeches on the Vedic verses, but they themselves have not realized the full meaning of those verses. Therefore, Sri Krishna teaches Arjuna to practice and assimilate the knowledge. He urges him not to be foolish like those who talk on the Vedas but do not practice the teachings of the Vedas. Such scholars and priests are enveloped with self-interest; their actions are directed toward mundane and temporal gains and the attainment of heavenly joys. As a result they become caught in the snare of births and deaths.

Many religious leaders have forgotten the profound meaning of the great scriptures and merely use them for their own convenience. Motivated to attain external pleasures, they involve the innocent in rituals. Much of the misery we find in society is because of unwise teachings spread by such religious teachers. It is an irony of human history that religious leaders often practice religion to achieve selfish ends. In fact, it has become a tradition that unfortunately misleads the vast majority of society.

A rare few are aware of the fallacies and follies of such selfish leaders and thus prefer to isolate themselves and practice sadhana. But how many such people are there in the world, and how much good can they do with their teachings and writing when the vast majority of religionists preach and teach meaningless rituals that rob the intellect of the wisdom of the great scriptures? The sages who have seen truth face to face and who were able to touch infinity have always warned sadhakas that real knowledge comes from earnest sadhana, which leads to direct experience, and not from mere study of the scriptures. While intellectual knowledge is often used for selfish ends, those sages knew that the truth and selflessness are one.  Selflessness is an acquired taste. When one finds delight in being selfless he can lead, serve, and love others and even change the course and destiny of nations. Selfishness feeds the ego, but selflessness leads one to higher levels of consciousness.

Sri Krishna is not condemning the Vedas but is advising Arjuna to go beyond the three attributes of the human mind to attain a state of equanimity. The human mind is composed of three gunas (qualities): sattva, rajas, and tamas. The Vedas explain that these three qualities are present in all that exists in the phenomenal world and so are found in all human beings, though in different grades and degrees. When the sadhaka understands that the animal tendency is destructive, unhelpful, and of a tamasic nature, he increases his awareness of his human potentials. In the next stage of awareness, he realizes the great marvel of marvels: that the essential nature of his being is divine. He then follows the path of upward travel toward divinity. Without realizing his divinity, a human being can be successful in the external world but can never have a tranquil mind, and he is thus unable to catch a glimpse of the Eternal. He longs to be happy, but that dream is not fulfilled.

The divine nature in the human being is the sattvic quality of equilibrium, which gives one freedom from the influences of the pairs of opposites. Equilibrium is a state of mind attained by human effort. The aspirant who understands the three qualities of the human mind always remains vigilant and increases his awareness of sattva. One of the qualities of sattva is expansion; thus the mind, speech, and action of the sattvic aspirant follow the law of expansion and not of contraction. Contraction leads one to feel separate and small, whereas expansion leads one to realize that the Self of all is his very essence.



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