Self Knowledge vs Self Realization
(Image from internet)
There are many paths to God. Followers of each path aver that their path is the best. The Gyanis or the knowledgeable feel that the correct knowledge of the reality is sufficient. The followers of the path of devotion feel they are superior.
Is knowledge enough? I feel it is not. Personal realization alone is the solution to the threefold misery that grips one while in the physical world. Self realization is about that experience. Self knowing is not sufficient.
The self realized are called Siddhas. Sri Ramakrishna had compared this state to fully boiled rice. That rice retains its form but has become soft. The Siddhas become soft and full of love. Sri Ramakrishna also said that there are no desires or tendencies in the Siddhas; like the boiled rice their samskaras have been boiled and destroyed.
Sri Ramakrishna was great in parables. He used to say, you may have all the knowledge in the world but in times of stress that knowledge falls apart. The self knowing are like parrots. They may be taught to repeat the sweet name of Rama. But when a cat jumps at them they forget Rama and start screeching with their original harsh voice.
We are all like that parrot.
Self realization is about practice. Meditation is central to that practice. So is Japa - the chanting of the Guru Mantra. The practice is also about positioning yourself based on read knowledge. This requires a shift in attitude. You read that the world is an illusion. You should also practice by constantly reminding yourself that the world is indeed an illusion. Many great souls have achieved realization through this alone.
There are three Vedantic statements that reflect the reality.
- God alone is real,
- the world is unreal,
- the individual is none other than God
Can we make this statement, "Brahma Satyam, Jagan Mithya, Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah" a part of our existence?
Upon practice there is indeed a change in attitude. One becomes detached. One develops the stance of a witness. The world remains, you perform and function within it, but with a different mindset.
This alone is the solution to the misery called life with its mixture of pleasure and pain. To become free you should rise above both. Seek not pleasure or pain. Essentially they are both the source of suffering.
- Discrimination & dispassion (Vichara & vairagya)
All three can be practiced without much effort.
In meditation you lose body consciousness. Japa using sanskrit mantras loosen the force of illusion and attachment. Discrimination and dispassion saves you from worldly attachments.
Life is a small flash between two voids; the pre birth stage and the post death state. You have experienced these states again and again just as you forget yourself in sleep everyday. Death is but a sleeping and forgetting. Both birth and death are inevitable for those who do not seek realization.
Yes Self Realization is very difficult. But it must be attempted. There is nothing else in life that is equally important. We spend our days in vain and then in old age repent as we realize we have not really gained anything from our relentless efforts.
There is a saying in Hindi;
Bachpan beeta khel khel mein, bhari jawani soya, bhudape mein yaad ye aya kya khoya kya paya. (The childhood is spent on playing, the youth exhausts in sleep, old age brings repentance upon the assessment of what is gained and what is lost)
Spiritual learning must be available to every child. It is at the beginning of life that it is most needed. The child that acquires this knowledge does not sink in the quagmire of the world.
It is the parents duty to provide the child with good health and good education. The rest is up to the tendencies in and the efforts of the child.
Parents who think, "My child should enjoy the world", lead their children to doom.
Knowledge is important but it is practice that makes one perfect. In the Kali Yuga practice is very easy. Just take the name of God and remember him as often as you can. Constantly remind yourself that the world is an illusion and that the consciousness in you is the reality behind the diversity. The world arises from within you, being facilitated by your mind. The less thoughts you have the more peaceful your life is.
You do not have to worry about yourself. Your life is decided prior to your birth and you simply go through the motions. That will happen even without your thinking and applying yourself. So why fume and fret? Apply yourself to spiritual practice without any anxiety or worry. The world knows how to take care of itself.
Self realization gives you fulfillment, peace, and rest. The self realized enjoys a pleasure that is infinitely greater than the sum total of all the pleasures of the physical world and without any of its traps.
If self realization is the only thing to be attempted in this life then why ignore it? Why not try and open the door?