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Season 1 - Episode 8

Day 6: Yoga of Sacred Wisdom

60 min - Talk


We begin in meditation by breathing with more and more awareness. Ravi then shares a talk with us on Jnana Yoga or Yoga of Sacred Knowledge. He describes this as a knowledge beyond thought and free of time. We conclude with a self-study exercise.
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Aug 18, 2019
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As we have been often emphasizing in our meditation, to make a connection with relaxation, right alignment and with your breath. And again a reminder that even though contemporary usage of the word in English breath does not quite convey this, but very strong idea in all ancient teachings that breath or if you like, preferably using the word chi or prana, is the connecting link between all levels of reality. From a practical point of view, one implication of this idea is, if I can breathe with more awareness than I usually do, then from the same air as I am always breathing, I can take in subtler substances or subtler energies, sometimes called all chemical substances. Then I usually do, in fact that is the very basis of connecting the idea that breath can connect us with the highest level of reality if I can breathe with very subtle level of consciousness. So now we try this in practice.

I try to now breathe with more awareness than I usually do. And here what is required is an impartial clarity about one's own understanding. How do I breathe with more awareness than I usually do? Do I think about it? Do I find myself holding my breath inside or outside?

Impartially to ask yourself what is the difference between what I was breathing earlier or how I was breathing earlier. And now wishing to breathe with more awareness. Do I just become more tense somewhere or artificially manipulate my breath? What is the meaning in practice of breathing with more awareness? To assist our awareness of breathing, follow the trajectory of the in-breath.

After the air enters the nostrils, where does it go? Now I highly recommend to stay with your own experience and not try to recall what ordinary physiology would say or what you have read. So where does the breath go after it enters the nostrils? And then also to ask oneself, how do I know where it goes? Here it is important to understand that along the trajectory of the breath there is a shift in sensation which may be experienced as a shift in temperature or in humidity along the trajectory.

And does not experience, all experience is by sensation or feeling. So if I don't seem to be able to follow the trajectory, I try to stay with it more and more sensitivity to the organism. And to further assist wishing to find breathing with more awareness, we also add watching the trajectory of the out-breath only by external knowledge, not by our internal knowledge, only by external knowledge we know that the in-breath and the out-breath have different chemical composition, different functions in the organism. So we wonder, do they have the same trajectory or different trajectories? Yeah?

Thank you. Thank you. Now I can let go of following these trajectories of the in-breath and the out-breath. If it has assisted me in becoming breathing with a slight more awareness than I usually do, that is fine. But if it has not, I return myself asking this question, how do I breathe with more awareness than I usually do?

Thank you. Thank you. Another area which we can try right now. As if I am watching my breath enter into my whole body. As I breathe in and breathe out, I am watching the breath in the whole of my body starting from the top of the head to the toes.

The air may be going out or coming from outside in my body but my awareness as if the body itself is breathing in and breathing out. Now, given the shortage of our time, we would just take two more breaths and we'll stop. Thank you. Today we will focus on what is in Sanskrit called Jyana or Jyana Yoga.


This word has the same etymologically close to the Greek word Gnosis from which we get the word Gnostic Gospels.

So, it has to do with knowing and usually this will be translated as the Yoga of Knowledge. But I recommend to be a little clearer about it as Yoga of Sacred Knowledge because it is really speaking about the kind of knowledge that transforms the knower. Otherwise, it is not the kind of knowledge that is of interest for these teachers in spiritual traditions. Here I want to make two or three general remarks. First of all, in the whole of the Indian tradition, the root cause of all our difficulties or problems is said to be a Vidya or which literally means ignorance.

In the Bhagavad Gita another word is used, Agyan, which is just the opposite of Jyan. Jyan meaning knowledge, so Agyan means ignorance. Similarly Vidya means knowledge, Avidya means ignorance. This is quite a common practice in many Indo-European languages. That is said to be the root cause of all our difficulties and problems.

It is important to understand that this is actually not the root cause as understood in the whole of the Abrahamic tradition. There the root cause of all our difficulties or problems is disobedience of the will of God, beginning with Adam in the Garden of Eden, who quite naturally blames Eve. Eve begins to blame the serpent, thus it goes, setting the style. Then Adam is, as it were, sent out of the Garden of Eden. Saint Paul even ends up defining faith, actually faith is obedience of the will of God.

So a great deal of emphasis on faith in the Abrahamic traditions, hardly any emphasis on this in the Indian traditions. If you read any of the sages, whatever they have said in India, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Raman, Krishnamurti, any of them, they would hardly ever use the word faith. This is not the call. The call is for direct knowledge. And Patanjali, if you recall in the Yoga Sutras, especially in the second chapter, second sutra, says that the purpose of yoga is to cultivate samadhi and to diminish the clasius, clasius being the hindrances, the thing that stands in the way.

And then he goes on to say that the root cause of all of those clasius is the vidya, ignorance. Same will be said by practically all the sages in India, that what we need to be free of is ignorance, and primarily the ignorance of what I am or who I am. In fact, Patanjali actually describes what is a vidya, and here is the direct quotation from, well, first of all, this fourth sutra in the second chapter, a vidya is the cause of all the other obstacles, whether dormant, attenuated, intermittent, or fully alive. So, of course, he spells out other hindrances, but the root cause of all of them is a vidya. And then what is a vidya?

Even before I go there, I have this remark here from the Buddha in the Dhammapada, avijya paramam malam, ignorance is the great blemish. This is true throughout Indian tradition. I keep emphasizing this, not only in the Bhagavad Gita, but before that and after that. And here is yoga sutra's definition of what is a vidya. This is the fifth sutra in the second chapter.

A vidya is seeing the transient as eternal, the impure as pure, dissatisfaction as pleasure, the non-self as self. Actually, most of the sages in India emphasize the last item here, to not realize what is the true self, that is a vidya. But the other parts here can be easily understood as relevant. For example, to take the transient as eternal, most of the time when we say I, we are really referring to the body and the mind, which is clearly transient. And to imagine that that will live forever, if not here, in heaven or in hell, wherever.

That is just projection of the same notion. So, therefore, a vidya, I am simply trying to emphasize here, is regarded by all the sages in India, in one way or the other, as the central obstacle. And now, in that context now, let me read something from the Bhagavad Gita. This is fourth chapter, 42nd shloka. O Bharata! As I said, Arjuna has many names, so here is being called Bharata.

Take up your own sword of sacred knowledge, jhana, and cleave a sender this doubt that has risen out of ignorance, again, and has occupied your heart. Be firm in yoga and arise. So, the purpose of yoga, now we can describe it a little differently. The purpose of yoga is to remove a vidya, ignorance. Okay, so let's continue this. Let me read here something. Krishna says to Arjuna, the 13th chapter, I will now describe to you the one object of knowledge, knowing which one reaches eternal life.

It is the supreme brahma, without a beginning, which is neither being nor non-being. That is the object of knowledge. One could have easily used the word self with the capital S, or could have said, knowing Krishna, because he identifies himself with Brahma. So, there are varieties of ways of referring to this, but that is the direction. What is to be known? In fact, just to complete this remark here, continuing in the same chapter, indivisible, but as if divided in beings, it is the sustainer of all creatures, their devourer and creator too.

That is to be known. It is the light of lights and is said to be beyond darkness. It is knowledge, the object of knowledge, and attainable by sacred knowledge. It sits in the hearts of all. This is repeated again and again, that Brahma, or the self with the capital S, or Krishna, sits in the heart of all, in the mind of all, even in the bodies of all, and what needs to be understood is that one thing. That is the real object of knowledge, and attainable by sacred knowledge. So, having had this emphasis now, I just wanted to be sure that there are four words in Sanskrit which all get translated as knowledge.

In a way, one needs to be very careful with them. One is Vidya, as I just mentioned earlier. Just to remind you that the English word vision and video, both of them etymologically come from the same root as Vidya. And the reason for my saying that now is that one already recognizes that this is a question of like a direct perception, not an indirect conclusion by deduction or by induction or by generalization. Then Gyan, or Gyan, as I just earlier said, has the same etymologically, it's the same root as Gnosis, again to do with direct insight.

Bodhi is another word which has the same root as Buddha and Bodhi. So, it will be closer to discernment or awakening. And then another word which is sometimes translated as knowledge, often as wisdom, Prajya. For example, a very famous Buddhist book is called Prajya Parmita, which is translated as wisdom of the other shof. So, it's not always translated as knowledge, but sometimes as wisdom, sometimes even as understanding.

But we need to be a little careful. What we are actually speaking about is a matter of direct perception, not a conclusion from something. What is the general characteristic of that knowledge? And here, actually, you'll find echoes of this in the Bhagavad Gita, but it is much more clearly expressed in the Yoga Sutras. So, I'm quoting this from the Yoga Sutras, mostly from the first chapter, a little bit from the third chapter.

This knowledge is knowledge beyond thought. This knowledge is different from the knowledge obtained by testimony or by inference. Jan born of discernment is liberating, comprehensive, eternal and freed of time sequence. This is something very important to focus on for a few moments. Let me take a few moments here.

Actually, some very important philosophers, also in the Western world, especially Aristotle and Kant, Immanuel Kant, Kant's whole book called A Critique of Pure Reason, actually deals with this issue where he discusses in detail. Now, this is nearly 200 years ago, but it has not been questioned very much by anybody. If I am looking at an object, of course, the object introduces something, but my mind introduces something, and he discusses 12 categories of thought, time, space, causality, etc. I don't know whether I could list all 12 right now, but more importantly, just focusing for the time being on time, that no thinking can take place without bringing time to enter into it. All our scientific laws have some aspect of time in it.

This is also the reason why this suggestion is, in all serious teachings, that one needs to be a little free of the thinking mind. More than anybody else, at least in my reading or understanding, Krishnamurti in contemporary times has been emphasizing this much more than anybody else. For him, what is required is intelligence beyond thought, which is really what Buddha is, in a way. He doesn't necessarily use that word. That thought cannot be without time, and therefore, Kant's conclusion was that scientific knowledge can never be wholly objective.

At its best, it is intersubjective. Many different scientists can verify if something is true according to their understanding, but it is not objective in the sense because the subject is also introducing something from oneself. Whereas in the spiritual domain, the wish is, the direction is, how can I be free of myself? How can the subject be out of the way? And this is really, in a way, a very tricky thing.

In a way, I have to be on the way but out of the way, which is really the definition of samadhi in the Yoga Sutras. Samadhi is where the self is not. This is the third sutra in the third chapter in the Yoga Sutras. And whatever object one is looking at, only the object remains. And therefore, this suggestion very much strongly expressed by Patanjali more than in the Bhagavad Gita.

The mind is not ordinary mind, is not the real knower, any more than the microscope is the real knower, scientist is the knower, and then he can have a bad microscope or a good microscope. So can my mind be so clear, now to use the analogy given by Patanjali, can it be like a clear diamond that wherever it is placed, it introduces no color of its own. It just allows the color of the object to reveal itself. So that's the, if you like, the ideal requirement of the mind, to be the good instrument. And in a way, one can find exactly, as I have often said, all serious teachings are actually speaking to be sure in different languages.

St. Paul's expression is, eyes of the flesh, see the things of the flesh, eyes of the spirit, the things of the spirit. Now, slightly different way of saying it, that however grandly we can extend our microscopes and telescopes, they still remain eyes of the flesh. Nothing bad about extending the eyes of the flesh, but they remain eyes of the flesh. If I can look at somebody else or another religious tradition, then from the eyes of the spirit, then I can see their spiritual aspects. Otherwise, eyes of the flesh, I see their fleshly aspects.

So it's an extremely important idea that there are different levels of seeing. That's the way St. Paul expresses it. In the Indian tradition, generally it is more expressed freedom from the mind. Or relating with buddhi, if you like, the higher mind. Or to use Krishnamurti's expression, intelligence beyond thought.

It's not lack of intelligence, but it is not intelligence being burdened by thought. And this is why very strong emphasis in the whole of the Indian tradition, in a way that because the ultimate reality cannot be known, although it can be embodied, I can become part of it, I can merge into the highest spirit, but I can't stand apart from it and know it. And therefore, very strong suggestion, here I will actually quote to you from the oldest Upanishad, Brahadaranyak Upanishad, and it is actually repeated in a later Upanishad, Isha Upanishad. This is what he says, those who are addicted to ignorance are in a great darkness. But those who are addicted to knowledge are in a greater darkness.

Now, what does it mean to be addicted to knowledge? We know many things. If I am now addicted to my knowledge, I cannot realize that what I do not know is enormously more than what I know. And I cannot be free of my knowledge. And as I said earlier also, the only person that I know, who even in ancient times or modern times has really emphasized this very, very much is Krishnamurti.

In fact, one of his very, very important books is called Freedom from the Known. That's the title of the book. And because we know many things, there is no question, nobody is recommending ignorance. Let's be clear about this. Nobody is recommending ignorance.

But whatever I know, it always keeps me in the past and does not allow me freedom to be surprised. So, to know something is fine, but to be free of what I know. Then, a very important feature of the kind of knowing these great sages are speaking about is just coming back to what I just quoted earlier from the Yoga Satra. That knowledge is freed of time sequence. If you are interested in the Sanskrit expression, it is kraman.

What does it mean? That past, present and future are not restricting this knowledge. I keep reminding people again and again, and it's not a very easy thing, that whatever we mean by eternity or eternal life, it has nothing to do with time. Eternal or eternity is not an extension in time. That is, we have a tendency just because we can't think without time.

So we end up calling it everlasting. Everlasting is not eternal. Eternal, on the other hand, can be everlasting. I have a whole article on this in my book, The Spiritual Roots of Yoga, but that particular article is also on my website. You don't need to get the book.

You can just read that on the website, There are several articles there. Where I try to point out that the whole understanding of extension of time is limitation by thought. For example, the Gospel of John begins, in the beginning was the world. Why not in the beginning is the world? Beginning is not an extension in time.

The kind of beginning that Christ is speaking about here, or what is being spoken in that Gospel. It is freedom from time. And maybe I will just give you a personal example here. Gosh, it was many years ago, I believe in 1983 or 1984 or something like that. The Royal Society of Canada had a whole symposium on order in the universe.

Evidence for design, question mark. And they had invited 12 speakers, 4 from England, 4 from USA, 4 from Canada. I get invited to these things, so I was also invited to give a talk there. And so I presented a paper there called, In the Beginning is the Dance of Love. And when those proceedings were being published, which was already two years later, the proofreader, even without asking me, twice, changed it, in the beginning was the dance of love.

And the whole point I was trying to make, that the kind of beginning we are speaking about has nothing to do with time. We are really speaking about, but of course the language demands us to make a sentence. So one ends up having to say something. So in any case, I caught that in time. So in fact, it is published under that title.

And I should also comment to you, because meanwhile it was not clear whether that book was going to be published or not. So I had sent that article to the Journal of Religious Studies in Canada. And there I had mentioned several things about Newton and various other things. Two reviewers. One of them wanted to get all the references, which I said, this is a very typical academic thing.

I don't remember often references, so I had to waste a lot of time trying to figure out the references. But the other reviewer said something which completely blew my mind. He said he has never seen an article of this quality ever published in this journal. And he was highly recommending it. So I wanted to ask the editor, well, can you tell me who this reviewer is?

Because this was such a nice comment. He said, no, I'm not supposed to tell you this. Houston Smith, some of you may know, he's a highly regarded professor of religion. We were just having a conversation. I have known him very well.

We have actually shared rooms together, etc. And he said to me, why don't you write the editor, send him a note that you can send it to the person who wrote this comment. If he wants to respond to you, he can. Which he did, actually. It turns out to be a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto who had written this note.

He said, yes, I believe this. We have never published an article of this comment. I was completely surprised. But the reason I'm mentioning all this is because we have this notion that time is the determining factor of thought. In this context now, I'll quote to you.

This is from the eighth chapter in John's Gospel. It's verse 57. In which Christ said, before Abraham was, I am. Now, what does that mean? And you can see how the crowd understands this.

Our modern scientists will probably be in that category, except that they'll be slightly more polite. The very next verse says they picked up stones to throw at him. Absolutely the very next verse. There we are. So I remind people that when we understand something about the kind of knowledge these characters are talking about, we may not really understand it, but we need to realize that it is referring to something completely extraordinary, something quite different from what we usually end up calling knowledge.

Free of time sequence. Yoga Sutra says this. I just quoted to you from the Gospel, Christ's remark, and Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita repeatedly makes this remark. Completely free of time or space or any level of manifestation. This is why when it comes to something like whether I will die or I will live forever, etc., it has a very different understanding by the sages.

Extending one's present life into more and more time, making it everlasting is completely different from what is meant by eternal life. Eternal life is a measure of the quality of being. It has nothing to do with time. If you like, it is at right angle to the dimension of time, so it can manifest itself at any time. It's not against time, but it does not leave a projection in time.

This may not be such a good example, but it may little bit help. Sociologically, if you look at love and marriage, marriage has history. Love does not have a history. It can exist in marriage, outside marriage. One can be in a situation of love at any moment and then not be in that situation for hours or days or months and then be again.

So love is not the same thing as marriage, but it's not against marriage. It's not bound by marriage. So try to understand this. When Christ says you have to be born again, it is not the kind of reincarnation that Krishna is talking about. Reincarnation is not necessarily a change of the quality of being.

It will depend on the kind of things I have done. Correspondingly, I will be born. When Christ is inviting Nicodemus to be born again before he can go to heaven, he also says to be born from above, born of the Spirit. This is altogether a difference in the quality of being that is being asked for. So being born again by Christ is not the same thing as reincarnation.

They are not contradictory. They are not against each other. It could even be that whatever quality I am now able to live or act next birth, if one has reincarnation, I may be able to proceed from there, may even come to something that would be like being born again in the sense of what Christ is saying. But it is not contradictory to each other, but they are separate from each other. Eternal life has almost nothing to do with time in spite of its world.

And here I can remind you, if you are interested in that kind of scholarly Mambojambo, until 1930 or so, most Protestant translations of the Gospels use the word everlasting life. After that, because the scholars have been trying to point out that this is quite different from saying eternal life, the words have changed. Don't take my word for it. You can test it. So these two words mean something quite different. Everlasting is just an extension in time.

I can remain equally dumb forever. And remain in time forever. Whereas eternal life, as I just finished saying, has almost nothing to do with time. It is the quality of being of the person. So let's continue with the emphasis on...

Now, in the whole area of knowledge, very much emphasis on self-study or self-knowledge. The Sanskrit word is suadhyaya. And again, if you are interested in the Yoga Sutras, the first sutra in the second chapter, where Patanjali is describing three activities of yoga, tapas, suadhyaya, and ishwarapranidhan. Effort, self-study, and dedication to or submitting to... It is often translated as submitting to God, but God is not outside.

It's also submitting to deep self within. And that is also repeated, same three words, in yama and niyam, in the third chapter. So I'm mentioning this, that is very much emphasized. So it is in the Bhagavad Gita. Here let me read this. This is the 28th shloka in the fourth chapter.

There are some who practice yajja by offering their material goods, others who undertake austere efforts and practice of yoga as yajja, and for still others, with serious vow, yajja consists of self-study, suadhyaya. You see, I mentioned yajja meaning sacrificing, as well as interjection from a superior or a higher level. And then it consists of self-study and sacred knowledge. That's what Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita. So let me stay for a few moments with the word self-study.

It's a very dangerous activity for the simple reason, and here I remind you a remark of Rumi, the great Muslim sage. If you have not yet seen the devil, go look in the mirror. Whatever we understand by the devil also exists in each one of us. Maybe slightly more comforting remark of the Buddha. This is Buddha's remark.

In this very body, you can discover all the demons and all the gods. The reason for emphasizing this is a very large idea, which again you can find in all serious teachings anywhere, certainly very much emphasized in India, that the entire cosmos in principle can be mirrored inside us. So why not the devil? Devil also. I don't know why people get against the devil.

Just to remind you, the devil didn't create himself. He was also created by God. Maybe it will be good for folks here to read the Book of Job in what the Christians call the Old Testament. Jews don't call it the Old Testament. You realize that.

It's the Christian expression. For them, it's just the Torah. But the Book of Job twice. This is the sixth verse in the first chapter and first verse in the second chapter. And I'm more or less just quoting it directly.

When all the sons of God were gathered together, among them was Satan. He's also a son of God. And the whole Book of Job, God says to him, this is more or less, I'm summarizing this in a few words. God says to Satan, look, this character Job is claiming to be a great devotee of mine. Go test him.

That's the function of Satan. Satan, if you look at any of the prophets, including Christ, including the Buddha, none of them came to God or came to enlightenment until they had been certified by the devil. They had been tested by the devil. In the Buddhist tradition, we call it Mara. But much the same.

And so to become against the devil is not a good idea. He's the head examiner. What is important is to understand the position and the place of the devil in me. And then I don't have much time to develop this idea, but the Buddha, among the very last things, he said before he was enlightened, Mara, you are a part and parcel of myself. He's also a part of the Buddha.

To be free of the devil does not mean to be against the devil. To find the right place of the devil. Devil has more energy than most of the gods do. And in the biblical tradition, Lucifer, as you probably know, was the highest of all the angels. Literally the word Lucifer means one who bears light.

He was the light bearer, highest of all angels. And why was he expelled from heaven? Prophet Isaiah remarks on it. Because he wished to be like the most high. In the biblical tradition, nobody can be like God.

Anybody who ever said that, Christ is a good example. Or in Islamic tradition, Allah is a very good example. They were crucified or burned at the stake or something. This is forbidden, whereas in the Indian tradition, that would be the height of any sage. So already you see the difficulties that can arise in any teaching or any tradition.

But let me come back to that swadhaya or self-study, as I said, is dangerous. Because it has two very likely consequences. One is despair. Anybody who seriously looks at oneself, you don't need to take my word for it, you need to try. You would see how fragile one's attention is.

One has very good ideas, but one doesn't stay with anything. And all the things that we associate with the devil, you'll find them all in yourself. So it can lead to despair. This is the main reason why none of the Christian or Buddhist monasteries, I speak mostly about these two because I have spent time in these two monasteries or in these two religious traditions, they don't allow the beginning monks to be solitary monks. Precisely because they are more troubled by the devil.

But if you are with a community of fellow searchers, then one realizes that what I actually deeply discover about myself is truly true also about other human beings. Self-knowledge very soon becomes knowledge of the human condition and therefore has a certain comfort in it, that it's not that I alone am devilish, that it is a cosmological requirement practically to find that situation. That is the main reason. Only occasional monk is allowed to be solitary. Usually then they are actually most serious old monasteries are never at the top of the mountain, they are about three quarters of the way, then the solitary monk can go further up and be alone.

And the mother monastery takes care of them, protects them from disease or wild animals, or even sometimes they are starving. These days they also protect them from tourists. Because SO tourism has become a serious problem. We see that in India very much, people going for yoga and everywhere. So that's one problem.

The problem from self-knowledge or self-study is fantasy. Both of these have to do really with the devil, so I don't need to develop on this now. And this is actually the reason why in every teaching, in every culture, gradually any serious teachings always degenerate. When you look at the concordance of the whole Bible, hundreds of entries under faith, a few entries under knowledge, not a single entry under self-knowledge. Don't take my word for it.

Whereas you read any of the Christian sages or mystics, enormous importance on self-knowledge. Because that is the thing that one needs to be free of. How am I going to be free of what I don't even know what I need to be free of? But those Gospels, if they exist, become non-canonical. Here let me quote to you from the Gospel of Thomas, a non-canonical Gospel.

If you would know God, you must know yourself. When you know yourself, you would realize that you are the son of the living Father. If you don't know yourself, then you are in poverty. In fact, you are poverty. I personally don't know a stronger statement than anywhere else.

Don't take my word for it. You must read Gospel of Thomas, but non-canonical. Now, the same thing actually has happened in India to some extent. If you look at contemporary Sanskrit-English dictionaries, swadhya, there is no hanki-panki about it. It simply means swadhya, self-study.

But the first translation they would give is studying the sacred books. Only third or fourth translation will be self-study. In fact, I remember a conversation with Krishnamurti. There were three or four of us, and I was just mentioning this, and I have never heard him use this kind of language in public. He said, damn it, sir, what's the point of studying these so-called sacred books if you don't study the book of yourself?

So the real call is that, but all traditions, all teachings everywhere, almost by definition, degenerate because they are appealing to the masses. They are not appealing to any searcher. USA is the most fundamentalist country in the world, from anybody else's point of view. Why? Billions of dollars are spent by these evangelicals to convert people to Christianity so that they can go to heaven themselves.

So it's a whole tragic situation, but one needs to come back to this question of swadhya. Self-study is absolutely the necessary step for anything to do with transformation. Then what is the kind of knowledge that Krishna actually is speaking about? He is asked actually by Arjuna what is sacred knowledge, and the response is more to do with the quality of the knower rather than with knowledge. Here actually, literally, I'm quoting this here from the 13th chapter, 7th to 11th Shloka.

Absence of pride and hypocrisy, non-violation, forbearance, straightforwardness, purity, steadfastness, self-control, service to the teacher, detachment from the objects of the senses, absence of selfishness, constancy in the knowledge of the self, insight into the aim of essential knowledge. This is said to be real knowledge. Ignorance is what is other than this. There you have it. That's his definition of what is knowledge.

So, again and again, we need to return to what is the kind of knowledge that is being emphasized. It is knowledge beyond thought. Thought, don't be against thought. To be free of something doesn't mean to be against something. Free of something means to find its proper place.

Thought is also necessary. But it is not something that is going to bring me to the kind of freedom or moksha or nirvana, whatever word one uses, that is being aimed at. So, therefore, self-study, we could call it self-awareness, if you like, is intimately connected with self-transformation. Something that I have been saying in varieties of ways already, awareness is the mechanism of transformation. If I become aware that my energy is being used up in jealousy, I begin to try to ask myself, what function is it serving?

Gradually, as I become more and more aware of it, it finds its proper place. Jealousy also arises from a wish for... from competitiveness, which arises from doing something excellently. So, it even has a sacred origin. But one needs to understand this.

And one will soon discover that even the devil is born of God. Everything, what we would call really negative in one, has its place. There is no reason to be against this or that, but to try to see what is it that I started or needed to do, what it ended up being. Why waste this energy? Then, maybe we have this more or less at the end here, Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, again sixth chapter, one who is satisfied with sacred knowledge and discernment, who is unwavering, integrated, and who has conquered the senses, is called a yogi.

For such a one, a lump of clay, a stone, or a piece of gold are alike. One who is impartial to lover, friend, and foe, who is neutral among enemies and kinsmen, and equal-minded to the saint and the sinner, excels as a yogi. So, there you have it, to be a good yogi. And maybe I will really stop here because Krishna has many other things to say here, but we'll stop. Let me suggest, if you like, a homework or an exercise.


Assuming that sometimes you have impartially seen something in yourself which you don't find very praiseworthy or which you don't approve of, how do you respond to this? Do you try to cover it up? Do you want to get rid of it? How do you actually approach this? Ask yourself sincerely.

Similarly, if you find something in yourself which you find praiseworthy, how do you approach that? So, this is very much a part of self-study. And this would then assist you to see, how do I approach these things? What do I gain from doing X or Y or Z? How can that energy be more fruitfully used?

Thank you very much. I will stop now.


Kate M
3 people like this.
I really appreciated Ravi clarifying the distinction between "everlasting" and "eternal". This had not occurred to me before... also, the discussion of the role that the "devil" plays on one's path. I've never really felt that blaming actions on the devil made sense: it is just an externalization of something that we need to own as a part of ourselves. Very thought provoking discussion!
Hoda G
2 people like this.
There is a lot of wisdom within this talk. I find the emphasis of beyond time a key to understanding what was said. Thank You.
Anna-Lea S
1 person likes this.
I love this course! Ravi touched on something in this video, that I am also thinking a lot, which is his short remark on the 'Eso-Tourism in India, in his example Goa. I would love to travel to India at some point and learn about the roots and history of yoga, but is it even possible to do this respectfully? Does anyone know of any ressources on this topic from people who actually live in India? I would love to learn more about this :)
Caroline S
So many facets to knowledge and self knowledge...and it's a dangerous thing, so I am going to contemplate the teachings here because they are so important.  I very much appreciate the references, once again, they make a lot of sense in the context of this talk.  Thank you

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