How is one to gain this knowledge? (Part III)
We continue exploring how is one to gain this knowledge in the 7th lecture, from view of requisites on the part of a student. We had seen in the two earlier lectures that a person gains knowledge who has a Master and has the proper frame of mind, devotion and spends time in contemplation. The moment we say that, a person may say, since one has gained a master and has devotion anyway, then either contemplation will automatically dawn or that despite having gained the qualifications, frustration and dejection would be there as one would not be able to get into contemplation. Hence, one has to take the third important factor into consideration.
It seems one student goes to the master and asks him, Oh Master! Despite me changing my mind and being devoted, I have not made much headway, then how do I gain the knowledge? For which the master says, ‘paunah punyena sravanam kuryvat’ which means ‘may you repeatedly listen to the teaching’. There is another mantra which goes this way, ‘asupteramrter kale nayat vedanta cintaya’, which means, ‘as long as you are not asleep or dead may you lead the mind into enquiry of the Vedanta’. Let us now explore what actually it means.
Well, regarding the fact that we want to gain knowledge, we should not have any doubts, for we have thoroughly examined the problem in the first and second sessions. The knowledge that each of us want to gain is the knowledge of the Subject-I, which automatically speaks out in loud and clear terms that we cannot employ eyes, ears – the senses, much less can we employ the mind. All that the mind has so far gained is nothing but concepts or ideas, which may be in the form of theories, opinions that may or may not be verifiable. What the mind would gain in future is also not going to be different, for all one needs in the world is just that. Hence, we could say that the mind is an instrument for generating concepts. There is nothing wrong in one having a conceptual knowledge of pizza, for one cannot have any other form of knowledge. Invariably, all forms of knowledge are only conceptual. Having said that, can we work to gain the conceptual knowledge of the Self – I? We can and do exactly that, but, that is not the solution to the problem, for it is going to be one more concept. In fact, what we have is just concepts about us, which are the ones that create problems for us. I am lean, or fat, happy or unhappy, is that not the cause for problem either for us or for the others? The ideas we have about ourselves limit us and we try to get out of them. Hence, the solution is not in substituting them with other notions or concepts.
Well how else can we gain this knowledge? It is only by listening to the teaching. Listening is a beautiful word, the meaning of which very many of us do not appreciate. Listening is not hearing, as in hearing there is a choice. Where there is a choice, the mind is involved and the mind is nothing but the past, which is full of notions and ideas. While hearing, whatever we feel is good, meaningful or useful, we would pick up no doubt, but we have to understand that knowledge cannot stand notions and knowledge destroys all notions. Trying to retain the patches of notions is just preventing the notions from going away, which means we stall the scope for knowledge to take place.
Listening to the teaching takes care of the problem of settling accounts with ideas and concepts. This is the right royal path, as we only manage to pick up few more by hearing. So, listening to the teaching in a consistent and systematic way helps in clearing the jungle of notions that are there in our thinking faculty. The teaching is backed by a means of knowledge, which is sharp, precise and effective as well. The mind that exposes to that teaching effectively resolves the problem.
To the question as to how long should I listen, the answer is, as long as it is necessary. As long as ignorance is there, so long we have to listen. That is the reason for the seer making the statement, ‘Repeatedly may you keep listening’. Few may feel that there is no point in listening to the same teaching again and again, for we would not be gaining anything new. Well, it is true that one would gain nothing new, but then, do we need anything new in the first place? If we do, is that knowledge or is it just some ideas or concepts? If we examine all these, it would be clear that we do not need anything new and all that we are interested in, is gaining the knowledge of that which is ever present as l, which is the only truth as far as I am concerned. Is not the knowledge that we have about anything else just notions or ideas?
There are lots of issues which we should resolve, which I am sure you would spend time thinking about and we may be able to examine them on another occasion. If the listening is not thorough, then one cannot get into contemplation or meditation, and even if one tries, the very effort is going to be a big battle which finally we are bound to lose. An unknown cannot be meditated upon and a known object need not be meditated upon. Please think about these. How to contemplate or meditate, we shall discuss later, but until then, we should understand the best bet is allowing the mind to remain in the midst of the teaching, which we can safely do by listening to the teaching. We saw very many issues during the lecture, and only the substance of those I tried to present.