June 15, 2007

Gita XIX-The way of knowledge: Jnana Marga

We can reach the goal of perfection; attain the saving truth in three different ways, by knowledge of Reality or adoration and love (bhakti) of the Supreme Being or by the subjection of the will to the Divine purpose (karma). At the end, knowledge, love and action mingle together. God himself is reality, truth and bliss. To those who are seeking light, HE is Eternal Light, clear and radiant as the sun at noonday, in which there is no darkness; to those struggling for virtue, HE is Eternal Righteousness, steadfast and impartial; and to those emotionally inclined, HE is Eternal Love and Beauty of Holiness.

Even as God combines in Himself all these features, man aims at the integral life of spirit. Cognition, will and feeling, though logically distinguishable, are not separable I concrete life and unity of mind. They are different aspects of the one movement of the soul.

June 04, 2007

Gita XVIII-Jnana or Wisdom

If world is nothing but ebb and flow, continual becoming, it is due to action. At the human level, action is caused by desire or attachment, kama. The root cause of desire is avidya or ignorance of the nature of things. The roots of desire lie in the ignorant belief in the individual’s self-sufficiency, in the attribution reality and permanence to it. We have to get over this ignorance. Vidya or wisdom is the means of liberation from the chain of avidya-kama-karma.

Wisdom should not be confused with theoretical learning or correct beliefs, for ignorance is not intellectual error. It is spiritual blindness. To remove it, we must cleanse the soul of its defilement and kindle the spiritual vision. The fire of passion and the tumult of desire must be suppressed.* (IV, 39)The mind, inconstant and unstable, must be steadied to reflect wisdom from above.

Wisdom is direct experience, which occurs as soon as obstacles to its realization are removed. The effort of the seeker is directed to the elimination of the hindrances, to the removal of the obscuring tendencies of avidya. According to Advaita Vedanta, this wisdom is always present. It can only be revealed. Utter silence of the mind and the will, an emptying of the ego produces illumination, wisdom, the light by which we grow into our true being; this is eternal life, complete fulfilment of our capacity of love and knowledge, “the completely simultaneous and perfect possession of unlimited life at a single moment.”

Jnana and ajnana, wisdom and ignorance are opposed as light and darkness. With the dawning of wisdom, ignorance dies and evil is cut off from the root. The liberated soul overcomes the world. When we grow into this wisdom, we live in the Supreme. This consciousness is not an abstract one.

(to be contd.)

*(IV, 39) He who has faith, who is absorbed in it (i.e.wisdom) and who has subdued his senses gains wisdom and having gained wisdom, he attains quickly, the supreme peace.