Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Sword of Knowledge

The sword of knowledge can cut the knot of ignorance. This is the bottom line for Advaita Vedanta. All the yogas, all the mantras, japa, meditations, are provided to prepare the mind so it is open to receive a deeper knowledge. Acknowledgement of ignorance is the first step required.

Ignorance is in the mind. That Ignorance must be pointed out due to the nature of our instinctual hard wired ignorance. Most of us need some preparation, some softening of the mind, before the truth can be absorbed. Because the knowledge of nonduality is subtle, the mind needs some refinement to appreciate its depth. The gross little mind we have accepted, has little chance of allowing new knowledge of this level to penetrate without some refinement, some open space, with which to receive it.

Sometimes we come to Vedanta after a severe crisis; an event that breaks are extant conditioning. Such a crisis may bring us the humility required for us to be ready to hear. As Leonard Cohen says, "It's the crack that lets the light in." Correct knowledge destroys ignorance. But we need to be ready to receive it. In Vedanta they call it a "qualified" mind.

If the mind cracks, or opens suddenly, enlightenment can be an instant seeing. A sudden opening without preparation can be a calamitous, earth shattering event. If the mind is well prepared, enlightenment may come as softly as a gentle breeze. It is the earth shattering stories that get repeated. But that is not the way it has to happen.

We start out hard wired in ignorance, and conditioning piles on top. It all has to be unraveled for the truth to sink in. The unraveling comes in many ways. It has to happen, for ignorance is in way. New knowledge is required to free the mind. And when our mind is freed, the ignorance removed, we discover that we aren't the mind. It is the realization that we have always been free. This is Moksha. Freedom. The end of mental suffering.

Below is a poem I wrote at the age of eighteen, describing the pain of ignorance in the mind, and wanting something new.


A potential being
I lay in the loins of man
a million years.

A listless child
in a dreamy land
eternal as the infinite
and free
respecting all the
world about,
but understanding not.

Accepting all that was in doubt,
the word before me had,
and being a child
of that world,
I remained a part.

The shattering blow
was long in coming
though departed from the land;
the structures of a mind so strong
were long in coming down.

The roots were long and deep
secure in depths of unconsciousness,
torn up as they slept
the tender nerves were bared
and wrenched the conscious mind.

The mind tormented
in this dying mess,
could find no peace,
and tangled emotion
like a spider's web,
held the helpless mind
amid is myriad sticky host.

Potential intuition
had it rested in its native land
lay uprooted, victim,
and the cause of so much pain.

The mind is planting once again
deep within its earth.
Will it harvest fruit
in this new land?

Potential freedom,
does it lie here?
Then it is grace,
not fate.

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