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Torah and Veda are two ancient sources of spirituality still vibrant today. Torah is conveyed through the sacred language of Hebrew and Veda is conveyed through the sacred language of Sanskrit. The focus here is on meditation, mysticism, philosophy, psychology and the underlying spirituality that has been incorporated into religions, and not as much on the religions themselves. Your comments and posts are welcome.

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Quote of the Week 356 - Sources of Knowledge, Self-realization, and Spiritual Transformation


Though there are many ways to receive knowledge, basically knowledge comes from three sources: sense perception, mental conceptualization and intuition, the infinite library that is far beyond senses, mind, ego and intellect.


When you hear, see, smell, taste or touch something, you are acquiring knowledge from external sources through sense perception. The knowledge that comes through sense perception is not sufficient to be complete knowledge, because the senses are very limited. When you see things with limitations, you are not seeing them as they are.


With the knowledge you receive through the senses you conceptualize and come to certain conclusions. You use this knowledge to function and express yourself in the external world. But the senses and the mind are not valid sources of knowledge. As long as you use the senses to collect facts and then ask the mind to know what they are, you are only in the first stage of knowledge…


There is another type of knowledge that comes through the buddhi, in which you know something through information gathered through your senses along with intellectual analysis. Buddhi is usually interpreted as “intellect” in English. There is however a difference between these two. Whereas the buddhi gives you the capacity to gain internal and external knowledge, the intellect is limited to knowing the facts with the help of the senses. You cannot depend on the intellect because it gathers data from the external world, which is subject to change. The intellect is like a small ruler with which the human mind tries to measure the vast universe.


Information that you consider to be knowledge [knowledge obtained through mental and intellectual effort] is superficial and will not help you to transform yourself or lead you to the inner world of Self-realization. Knowledge received through the mind is not helpful to fathom the deeper, subtler levels of your being. The purpose of mind is to function with the senses to understand the external world. Mind is not helpful to know the Self except when it has been trained to not disturb you. This is the purpose of sadhana [spiritual practices]…


You depend on the intellect so much you have forgotten there are other sources of knowledge, such as instinct. Instinctual knowledge is more apparent in the animal kingdom. Since nature governs the lives of animals completely, animals are much closer to nature…[while there remains some capacity for humans to access instinctual knowledge] for all practical purposes you have lost touch with nature because of your artificially acquired knowledge and intelligence. In fact, this has happened to such an extent that now you require external means to see things. You cannot directly see or perceive things because the cultivation of instinctual knowledge has not been part of your education. You have gone so far with artificial knowledge that you cannot understand or feel what nature is any more. You don’t like to walk barefoot on the ground or touch anything without gloves…You are disconnected from the finer laws of life and nature because your mind has become preoccupied with the comforts and means you think you can apply to help you attain wisdom. You have no motivation to be sensitive toward that knowledge which will help you to get freedom from misery and pain.


Instinctual knowledge is definitely higher than intellectual knowledge, but each has its limitations. When you train your intellect through the acquisition of facts, slowly the intellect becomes more incisive and wants to understand more: I am not only this body; body is just a part of me. I also have senses and a mind, but there is another part that is not known to me. When intellect calms down, awareness takes over.


Awareness is a vague term, but it is important to understand it. Awareness is entirely different from knowledge. The difference between intellectual knowledge and awareness is this: for the knowledge you acquire with the help of the intellect you have to trust and depend on the world of facts; for awareness you don’t need any support or help from cognition or the external world…When you say you are aware of yourself, it doesn’t mean you are aware of higher consciousness. Similarly, you are not a realized person just because you say you are aware of the reality. In order to me aware of the reality, you will have to attain the goal of life. Belief in God is completely different from the experience of the presence of God at every moment. My master told me that sat, chit and ananda (truth, consciousness and bliss) are three aspects of the Lord, the absolute truth. It is not necessary to run here and there to attain that state. A human being is the greatest of all shrines and the moment he comes to know this truth, he is free. To believe in God, or truth, is a mere belief; to realize that the Lord of life is within you is wisdom. Then you have attained something.


It is essential to make effort to expand your awareness. One way to do this is to study the scriptures and the experiences of great sages…As your awareness gradually deepens, the power of the buddhi is also sharpened and you develop the capacity to discriminate between what is truth and what is not. Discrimination in the realm of facts is entirely different from discrimination between the eternal and non-eternal. In order to develop this level of discrimination you have to have a clear understanding of both avidya [ignorance] and vidya [knowledge]. The buddhi, when properly trained, can lead you to a level where you understand not only what is right and not right, what is fact and not fact, but also what is truth and not truth. If you slowly work with your intellect and with the fire of discrimination, your intellect will shine like gold and you will attain a state of wisdom and awareness of the truth within.


Wisdom is not knowledge that you receive through mind; it is knowledge received through a vision. You will experience such visions when you have learned to have perfect control over your mind.


Emotion, which is more powerful than the thinking process, can also become a right source of knowledge, if properly directed. Emotion is one of the most powerful resources you have. All great persons performed great feats during a state of ecstasy, not through the knowledge of mind. When your whole being spontaneously goes into a state of tranquility through the experience of music, art or something else that makes your mind one-pointed, you are receiving knowledge through emotion…If you direct your emotions toward one particular point, you can attain the height of ecstasy. Many great sages of the world have attained the highest knowledge through a state of ecstasy, where mind does not function, intervene or reason. Mind is not able to comprehend why it is happening.


Among all emotions the most powerful inborn emotion in humans is sahaja bhava, the ultimate source of knowledge, intuition. Intuitive knowledge is the finest of all knowledge and does not need any evidence. The intuitive library within is beyond sense perceptions and mind. It is very close to the inner source of light, life and love. To be in touch with the intuitive library, you have to quiet the mind. As long as your mind continues to function, and you are disturbed by mental argument, conflict or suppressed emotions, such mental activity creates a barrier to the intuitive flow and it is lost. Only when you relax the mind can the fund of knowledge that is hidden beyond flow forward. The first goal of sadhana [spiritual practices] is not enlightenment; the first goal is to train the mind so it does not create obstacles for you. Your initial effort should be to prevent the mind from creating problems for you.


There is definitely something divine beyond this phenomenal world. That divinity also dwells within human beings. You come in touch with the finest of knowledge from that divinity in you. It is not in the body, breath or mind. It is beyond the mire of delusion created by your mind, in the silence within. When you experience perfect silence, the higher knowledge called intuition dawns from beyond all the superficial fields of consciousness and all the various aspects of the mind. Intuitive knowledge, like meditation, is beyond time. With the help of the practice of meditation, you can develop your intuitive capacity so that it becomes your real guide. Intuitive knowledge doesn’t reveal itself bit by bit. When you touch the peak of divinity in the state of superconsciousness, intuitive knowledge spontaneously flows in leaps and bound.


If you receive knowledge through the mind, you will always continue to doubt and search for evidence; you will always want someone to reassure you and confirm that you are doing the right thing. Once you come in touch with intuitive knowledge, there is no need for confirmation or evidence from any teacher, swami or yogi. You will know and know that you know.


Intuitive knowledge is unalloyed knowledge, the highest knowledge of all. The source of intuition is beyond the knowledge of the senses and the conscious and unconscious minds. It comes to you when your whole being attains a state of stillness. If you voluntarily learn to still yourself and attain a state of tranquility, nothing is impossible during that time. The fund of knowledge that is hidden beyond can flow forward and help you to solve a problem or to heal yourself or others. The knowledge that comes through the senses or through the mind is not perfect, but the knowledge that comes from beyond the mind, the finest of all knowledge, is pure knowledge. You have to prepare yourself to receive that impersonal knowledge by doing sadhana, just as you have to put gold in the fire in order for it to shine. When you go through tapas and the process of purification, Atman shines forth. You cannot see your face in a mirror if the mirror is covered with dust. If you clean the mirror, it will show you clearly what your face looks like. Spiritual practices lead to purity of mind. To truly understand any object in the world you need a one-pointed mind. Only a pure mind can attain that level of one-pointedness. You can know the extremely subtle Atman residing in the cave of the heart only through pure knowledge…


The perfect knowledge that brings transformation is love. As a human being you have the capacity to experience pure knowledge because the infinite library of the highest of all knowledge, along with the source of infinite love, is already within you. Real transformation comes through awareness of the source of knowledge within.


A human being can be compared to a lamp that is covered with several shades. Though the light is there, it is very dim because of the many shades. As long as you remain in body consciousness, you cannot be aware of the reality that is hidden beneath all the shades. Intellectually you may know the light of truth is within you, but you are not aware of it. If you remove all the superimpositions that you have created one by one and go within to the center of consciousness, you will finally see the source of light, love and life, shining in all its glory. You will have to surrender the ego that lives in darkness before that light That light is self-effulgent; it has not come from any other source nor has it borrowed light from any lamp or from the sun, moon or stars. The light that is responsible for understanding, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting or smelling comes from the Atman within, the source of pure knowledge. The whole universe is shining through that light. This means all the knowledge you have today, even that knowledge you have received through your mind, senses and intellect, has come from that same source of consciousness. Light and knowledge have no ideology; all religions are supported by the same light and knowledge.


--Swami Rama, Sadhana, the Path to Enlightenment; Yoga the Sacred Science, Volume Two; pages 52-62

CURRENT TEACHING SESSIONS

Torah-Veda Meditation, Self-Discovery, and self-Transformation. This series will cover the basics of the theory and practice of meditation grounded in time-honored Himalayan and Kabalistic teachings. It is suitable for beginners with an earnest interest in committing to and furthering their spiritual growth, as well as more experienced meditators who would like a refresher, re-charge, tune-up, or perhaps a different perspective.


Dates: Four successive Saturdays, Oct. 8, 15, 22, 29, 2016


Time: 11 AM to 1 PM


Location: Vedanta Center of Atlanta; 2332 Brockett Road, Tucker, GA 30084; (Corner of Adrian and Brockett, one block from LaVista.)


Cost: Free and open to the public. Donations gladly accepted.


Note: These sessions are cumulative, and there is benefit to taking all or most in the series, but drop-ins are welcome.


Questions: Contact Steve Gold, torahveda@gmail.com or 770-270-8290.


Course outline:


Session 1: The Body. After a general overview, we begin our journey within (from the small self, with a small “s” to the big Self, with a capital “S”), at the level of bodily awareness. What can we do with the body to use it as a vehicle for productive spiritual growth, and not a hindrance? Meditation postures. Lifestyles and approaches conducive to spiritual growth.


Session 2: Breath/Life Force/Prana. What is the nature of our breath and correlation with our life force/prana? Breath/Life Force/Prana as an important link between the body and the mind. Breathing/pranic exercises to assist coordination and calming of the body, breath and mind.


Session 3: Mind and Emotion. What is the mind? What are its various functions? What are emotions? How do mind and emotion interact? What can we do to harness the instrument of the mind and the powerful forces of emotions to aid in our spiritual growth in a constructive, upward spiral, instead of being caught up in a vicious cycle or even downward, destructive spiral?


Session 4: Spirit/Consciousness. How is consciousness distinct from mind? What is its relationship to Spirit? What are the various states of consciousness? How to distinguish between identifying with the small self that prevents our spiritual growth, and the large Self that aids our spiritual growth? Connecting with the still, quiet voice within, the eye of the storm.


About the Instructor: Steven J. Gold, BA Antioch College, Philosophy and Religion; JD Emory Law School, is the founder/director of the cyberspace center, Torah-Veda and the author of Yoga and Judaism, Explorations of a Jewish Yogi (2007), Ivri: The Essence of Hebrew Spirituality (2010), Torah Portion Summaries; With Insights from the Perspective of a Jewish Yogi (2010), and Basic Spiritual Principles (2011). He has been an initiate, student, practitioner and teacher in a Himalayan meditation tradition for over 35 years and a student of Kabala and Hebrew Spirituality for over 20 years. In addition to his ongoing avocation as a meditation teacher, he was a practicing attorney in the Atlanta, GA area for many years, and transitioned into his current vocation of providing professional mediation services.











Thursday, March 21, 2013

Quote of the Week 260 - The Revenge of the Spirit


Perhaps environmental pollution and the painful gap between the rich and the poor do not constitute the major challenges of our civilization. Perhaps the real challenge lies in the way humankind meets the world- that is, in human consciousness. Consciousness is what makes us unique in the history of evolution. But we have yet to embrace fully what it means to be human…

External evolution requires internal evolution. That was the dimension Abraham Maslow added to the basic Freudian needs: our search for meaning. We strive to develop our consciousness to achieve self-actualization…

The time has come for the spirit to escape from institutions, organizations, structures, strictures and systems. The development of the economy, technology and society is bringing human autonomy closer and closer. Modern individuals have infinitely more opportunities to organize their own lives than did those of previous generations We are at the threshold of a revenge of the spirit. This is the top of Maslow’s pyramid; self-realization. Consciousness separates the human being from other living creatures. We are all recognizably unique and our desire is to fulfill that uniqueness. The next phase of evolution is about becoming conscious beings that direct ourselves. That’s the way to happiness vitality intelligence and health.

The vision of the autonomous individual should not be confused with the current culture of individualism. At a higher level of awareness, the autonomous person realizes her independence relies on the respect and tolerance of others. As more and more people find their own way to spiritual development, they realize that every person, every creature, is part o a greater whole. This growing awareness is changing society. Personal development on a large scale – in sharp contrast with the collective mass hysteria of the various religious – adds a new dimension to the evolution.

If the expansion of consciousness is the mark of the future, it will have a profound effect on the way we equip and organize our world. As awareness rises, equality and community become stronger forces at the expense of old-fashioned, overly controlling rules and overly dominant institutions that promote competition. We will see less emphasis on power, more space for self-organization. That will amount to less winning or losing and more spontaneous synergy on the road to a common outcome.
We are discovering that the pollution of the mind gave rise to the pollution of the environment and that ecology is not just about preserving resources and nature but about realizing humanity’s place in the creation of the universe. “Self-realization will make us spontaneously inclined to value and defend the integrity of the world around us,” said Arne Naess, the founder of the deep ecology movement.

Self-direction will transform standardized education systems, as children cease to be asked to parrot what they read in books selected by their teachers and parents but learn to discover, develop and capitalize on their own talents. Self-determination is also crucial for our health. Autonomous individuals are more healthy individuals. And so increased consciousness will dismantle the expensive, rule-bound system of health care…

In the end, what an Indian master once told me accurately describes our mission: “The greatest journey we can make is the journey within. While going nowhere, while staying right here, we can travel an even greater distance inside.” That journey begins with feeling, listening, looking and experiencing, and sometimes by taking a moment in our busy lives to experience our connection with creation, to invite the future in, to discover that happiness is more than matter or property, to learn that health is, first and foremost, an individual, inner experience…

Come, let’s invest in our dreams of a world renewed, trusting that a new era is now supporting our longing. “It is our duty – as men and women – to behave as though limits to our ability do not exist. We are collaborators in the creation of the universe,” said French philosopoher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. And we should never forget that we are here to trust and realize our dreams. There’s no more fundamental change.

--Excerpts from the article, The Revenge of the Spirit in The Intelligent Optimist magazine (formerly Ode) January/February 2013 edition
by Jurriaan Kamp, editor-in-chief

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