The Best Way to Benefit
He only is wise
who devotes himself to realizing,
not reading only.
Solve your problems through meditation. Exchange unprofitable speculation for actual God-communion.
Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception.
Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life.
— Lahiri Mahasaya
(from Autobiography of a Yogi)
Sri Yukteswar directed the study of his own disciples by the same intensive method of one-pointedness.
"Wisdom is not assimilated with the eyes, but with the atoms," he said.
"When your conviction of a truth is not merely in your brain but in your being, you may diffidently vouch for its meaning."
He discouraged any tendency a student might have to construe book-knowledge as a necessary step to spiritual realization.
"The rishis wrote in one sentence profundities that commentating scholars busy themselves over for generations," he remarked. "Endless literary controversy is for sluggard minds. What more liberating thought than
'God is'- nay, 'God'?"
— From Autobiography of a Yogi
I could have meetings here with you every day, but that won't necessarily help you, unless you put into practice what you hear.
It is your duty to practice in your daily life all that you have learned. Scriptures are dead quotations. They live only when their lessons are lived in life by someone.
Self-Realization Fellowship was not brought into existence to give only glimpses of God through words, but to enable earnest aspirants to know Him through direct experience.
Self-Realization Fellowship teaches this great art of personal God-communion, of coming into conscious touch with the Source of all light, all power, all bliss.
— Paramahansa Yogananda
The acquisition of true knowledge (veda), truth realization, comes not from scriptural tenets or outward rituals, but from inner intuitive perception.
the mind is tranquil (samana),
the attention of the yogi focuses at the Kutastha center of universal consciousness in the forehead; and
through the omniscient intuitive vision of the spiritual eye,
the devotee becomes a seer of veda, truth.
—The Bhagavad Gita X:22 More...
We Have a Choice
We always have a choice. We can look at the picture above and just see the colors. We may read the words. We may read and think about the deeper meaning of the sentence.
Everything in this world is part of something bigger. Again we have a choice...
The signpost is not a destination so we don't just stand in front of the signpost and just re-read it. If we want to get to the destination we need to follow the directions. We need to apply the wisdom we read in our own life by practice.
Let me give you a few more illustrations of the challenges we face.
Over the ages the spiritual teachers warn us again and again about the pitfalls of superficially following the teachings.
An ancient analogy of the "finger pointing to the Moon" illustrate that.
The teachings is the finger. We can look at the finger as long as we want but unless we follow the instruction we would never see the Moon.
When we study new concepts, especially if the they come from other religions like Hinduism or Buddhism we need to be careful not to project on them our old sets of meanings from our native culture or religion. Some words carry huge emotional baggage in Western cultures and often trigger habitual references and responses that distorts their meaning in our minds. The words that carry heavy baggage and a lot of different interpretations are: "God", "sin", "love", "consciousness", "salvation", "devotion", 'miracles", "enlightenment" and "bliss" to name few.
And if all above was not enough the language as a system is not as perfect as we think it is. The reality is very dynamic, ever-changing but the language is static that freezes a particular moment or emotion in time. Language is linear, with "one line" of words where one word follows another but the reality is multidimensional where many changes are happening at the same time.
Wieslawa Szymborska who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996 wrote a poem that illustrates some of the paradoxes of language:
When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.
When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.
When I pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no non-being can hold.
Language is not Reality. Language is a very useful map to navigate reality but it shouldn't be confused with real territory.
Sri Daya Mata
Sri Daya Mata: There is a fruit of great sweetness called cherimoya. It is round, with a green skin; the inside is a soft white pulp, throughout which are large black seeds. I have described this fruit to you, but do you actually know what a cherimoya is and how it tastes? Not if you have only heard my description of it, but have never seen or eaten the fruit. So it is with the Lord. Saints and rishis have described their experiences of God, but the mere reading of their accounts will not enable you to know Him. We cannot realize God merely through a description given to us by others. We ourselves must experience His presence in the great state of ecstasy that comes from prolonged and deep meditation.
The Method of Applying the Truths You Read