A Purpose in Life
There is wisdom and wisdom
A main division is between wisdom of the inner (subtle), and wisdom of outer (world). In Sanatan Dharma, the Sanskrit terms jnana (also: gyana) and vijnana both mean wisdom. Jnana is subtle wisdom, akin to gnosis, and vijnana is wisdom on the material level.
There are words to to add - for example that jnana is awareness, higher knowledge, [subtle] knowing, or truth-consciousness. An old, Great Vedic Saying: "Atman (soul, Self) is Brahman (Godhead). That realisation is a mark of a wise man in a Vedic sense, a jnani.
Vijnana is a term that covers such as science, knowledge, distinguishing or discerning, understanding, proper judgement, skill, proficiency, worldly knowledge, methodology (Spoken Sanskrit Dictionary). Getting knowledge and getting learned are said to be of vijnana. Texts and methodology of yoga and meditation are in themselves of vijnana to handle, and represent lower grades of wisdom.
Sound meditation is a means to glide inwards from occupation with the world, into the beyond vijnana classifications, words and the like. Subtlety is the key to that. Wise men and women learn to meditate to rise beyond words - in other words, they make good and fit use of vijnana steps to get into jnana levels. One step at a time, or many, if that suits you also.
Life moves along even for those who have no manifesto for it. First, there is many a purpose in life - and many good ones, even. Old Bible statements and the Hebrew wisdom tradition talk well of gathering wisdom in life - and even speak of wisdom as something personified, Sophia. Accordingly, it behoves a human to learn from much significant mistakes of others in life, from own mistakes too as long as one survives them, and gather as much understanding as may be.
Why? That may be easily said. - A certain seagull used to fly around, crying "Why, why?" in Norwegian "Kvi, kvi" in a thin voice. What a seagull can say, may be easy for the philosopher too, even though the goings might get dangerous through relevant questioning that reveals shady deals and power tricks, underhand deals, forgeries and much else, for some try to stick to their benefits by other means than propaganda.
Yes, why are we here, more or less desperate for food, propagation, nesting, circling around and appeasing other needs? All do not seem able to think clearly about it. A human may think a lot and be subjected to thought-plots and get out of them through his or her deep mind when it gets through all the other things in a head and mind.
Jnana is a form of wisdom to go for. Is wisdom the top thing to go for? It depends on what you mean by it, for there are many forms and levels of wisdom. One speaks of being wise in worldly ways, behaving and so on - outer wisdom is vijnana in Sanskrit. And then there is being wise in internal matters, having jnana, also written gyana, or gnosis. In Tibetan Buddhism, gyana refers to pure awareness that is free of conceptual encumbrances, this awareness can blossom into full enlightenment [WP "Jnana"]
Making fit use of one's birth as a human. Apart from inner wisdom attainments there is the wisdom of living an upright, harmonious life too. It may not be an easy thing. The inward anchorage to the Lord should help.
A very bad life is spent in such ways as bringing one more aligned to brutish people, animals in clothes.
An "infirm" life does not make good use of its opportunities to advance toward God.
A good life on the other hand may be crowned with the wisdom of the Lord - and much else may be added.
To meditate may feel good and do good too
It would be a clear mismanagement of one's time to gather even likable words of wisdom at the expense of going towards the Lord. Greater goods first, in other words. However, these two should be combined, unless you are able to meditate deeply for hours at a time - go beyond, transcend as in the stage of the famous ox-herding pictures where "all is forgotten (for a while or longer)". In Transcendental Meditation the basic approach is to meditate deeply and well for about twenty minutes at least two times a day, and then benefit from it otherwise during the day. Thus, words and concepts may help us along to a certain abstract level, but all right meditation takes you beyond concepts and then derive benefits.
Now, If you are able to keep to your sense of "I" you are above thinking thereby. The inward "I-awareness", ahamkara, may be both strengthened and developed. And there is nothing wrong with that, per se.
It is wisdom to get one's priorities right and not seek many all right words of wisdom first of all, but to meditate first, and then go about such things and one's daily life. Fifteen to twenty-five minutes of swift and deep meditation twice a day may help all and sundry, says Maharishi.
Before venturing onto unknown paths
Compare the pyramid of needs by the psychologist Abraham Maslow (below). As we fulfil our fixed needs we may get sensitive to higher ones - at first dimly. And when we venture on an unknown path, we had better ask in advance: "Where will this take me?" That could be wise. However, all do not get clear-cut answers.
All the same, if you explore and experience things and do not have words for what you experience, you can hopefully use analogies to hint at it. It is a very old and very used yoga method to do so. All who are Self-realised do not know that they are, not in the beginning. However, when they see how others try to explain it, they could recognise it. It also happens that scholars compare their utterances of experiences with scriptures and announce: "Here is a Self-realised one!" Something like that happened to Ramakrishna (1836-86).
"Here is a Self-realised one!"
For some time others thought Ramakrishna crazy, and others not. Scholars classify and compare. Things depend on what sources they recourse to. Scholars settled the dispute about Ramakrishna.
A pretty brahmin woman came to Ramakrishna at the temple of Dakshineshwar when he would sit in meditation and birds would perch on his head and peck in his hair for grains of food and he was not aware of it.
Ramakrishna described to her his experiences and visions. She listened to him and assured him his experience was described in the scriptures as most exalting, and manifesting through symptoms, including shedding tears. She came to the conclusion that he was an Incarnation of God, an Avatar.
The woman had arranged a conference of scholars who should discuss the matter with her. Two famous pundits of the time were invited.
First one of them arrived with a distinguished company. They discussed the question while Ramakrishna sat in their middle like a child, indifferent to what was happening around him, sometimes smiling, sometimes chewing a pinch of spices from a pouch, or again saying to one of the pandits with a nudge: "Look here. Sometimes I feel like this, too."
Soon one of the pandits arose to declare that what Ramakrishna had reportedly experienced was a certain sign of God manifestating in someone. Ramakrishna said to Mathur: "I am glad to learn that, after all, it is not a disease."
A few days later the other pundit arrived, another meeting was held, and he too agreed with the view that Ramakrishna was an Avatar, a Mine of Spiritual Power in the form of an Incarnation."
"Ah!" said Ramakrishna with a smile, "You seem to have quite outbid Vaishnavcharan [the first pandit] in this matter."
The other: "I feel it in my heart and I have the scriptures on my side."
"Well," Ramakrishna said, "it is you who say so; but, believe me, I know nothing about it."
Two scholars agreed, but the Divine Incarnation in their middle knew nothing about his stature. Such deep understanding came to him later, we read. [More]
There is not so much wisdom in words as one might like to think, but in the nearness to the Lord as hinted at by approximations and the like in Vedanta scriptures. The "trick" is to find out what such words denote.
"Fulfillment steps" that Maslow postulate, to be read from bottom and up:
The first four of these stages he called deficit needs, or D-needs. B-needs (Being-needs) above relates to Self-actualization desires and yearnings. (Maslow 1987) [More]
In the pyramid, one may place gathered verbal wisdom and other outer expressions of wisdom on level 4, as forms of achievements. It is like summing up life experiences from a somewhat higher level, is it not? But above is fairer wisdom still, gyana, aligned to Self-attainments.
Wisdom-gatherers do good turns by it
Wisdom may be found in proverbs, like the proverbs ascribed to Solomon in the Bible. Proverbial wisdom may aim to be essential wisdom, worth listening to and learning as well, and is widespread in the human world. Some proverbs are nice; others are just so-so although entertaining if well used; and others may be misleading. That is roughly summed up. It tells that it is not enough to gather proverbs to get wise, for proverbs are a motley crew. You need discernment to choose the most helpful ones, and much else to implement them and see them through.
Also note there are many forms of wisdom. To live so well that your vitality does not go away, is one form of wisdom, and to create fair success is quote another. To form well-founded decisions is one form of wisdom, and to learn to tap your spiritual source is another. To support your life, dear ones, and the family well-being requires wisdom as well, and so is proclaiming this and that within safe boundaries.
To let something worn out go, is also wisdom. To strip away what is utterly foolish and fruitless is too. To invest in a wonderful home with honour is good. To take just as much as you can handle is also a form of wisdom, and so on. [More tips]
"A wife of noble character ... is clothed with strength and dignity ... speaks with wisdom [Proverbs 31:10, 25, 26]." - Also, "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding [Prov 4:7]." Wisdom is "more precious than rubies [Prov 3:15; 8:11]." [More]
The Bad Gardener
"To read and not to understand is to pursue and not take (German)."
Yogananda told that Jesus was a perfect master he "loved to talk of", but how perfect was the gardening of Jesus? He let weeds grow unhampered and choke good seed, and his cursing and killing of a fig tree that did not bear fruit out of season when he chanced to pass by, was too rash to be fit. Also, his ideas about mustard plants were erroneous. How could he be perfect? [Matthew 13:3, 7, 8-9, 22-3]
More alarming still, the gospel accounts of Jesus contain many signs that blaspheming Jesus was raving mad" [Matthew 9:3; John 10:20]. After some time he was executed for such reasons.
A gospel tells how most of his seventy first disciples left him for some of his harsh statements. Only twelve remained. After Judas had killed himself in two ways in two places (in a gospel and Acts) the remaining apostles and the Holy Spirit agreed to drop the commands of Jesus for non-Jewish followers [Acts 15; 21:25]. Not to be duped by such as psychopaths and tense bosses with their power, decor and pomp, is also wise in general. [Jesus Diagnosis]
As for his "sell all to follow me" teaching, we had better lean on the nearest ant-hill than lose sight of how good the villa and farm can be for man. You may further see that nearly everybody who calls Jesus "Lord, lord," are not Jews, although he said his teachings were for Jews only (Matthew 15:24). So many people make do with following their leader sheep, also toward the brink of a sharp drop - But according to the Apostolic Decree and the material surround it [see Acts 15; 21:25], there are only four requirements for non-Jewish followers, and no to blood food is one of them. Those who delight in traditional blood food as usual during Christmas, do you think they are they better, worse or on par with adulterers, in the light of the Apostolic Decree in Acts 15? (See Wikipedia, "Counsil of Jerusalem")
Six Words for You
I keep six honest serving-men
The serving-men in question are interrogative pronouns. The six "serving-men" of Kipling are taught in very many schools of journalism to help coming journalists write well enough. Applied to "gardener Jesus":
Slavery, thistles, and Jesus
From his gardening teachings it stands out that Jesus favoured thistles, and from his sermon on the mount he helped bullies by teaching followers not to retaliate and let demaning ones get all one's property on brutish demand, and so on. That is a hard part of his teachings. Those who claim Jesus as their "Lord, Lord" without doing as he tells, are not good enough for him, he says. Many so-called good Christians may be in for a surprise. His gospel message has not changed. That gardener was perfect for thistles - but not for decent folks. He did not come for them either, but for sinners - for Jewish sinners. That is what he says. [Matthew 9:13]. One may add, "It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice. [Prov 18:5]"
Yahweh and Paul did not dissolve slavery, nor did Jesus for his Jewish followers - and he reckoned with no others. [cf. Exodus 20 ff and Philemon; apart from Matthew 15:24; 10:4-9]. What perfection is perfection as a slave-holder? It may get near the "perfection" of a bullying robber or thief.
What kind of perfection is had by cursing and letting weeds take over everywhere?
Speaking of gardening, SRF who says they try to teach "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ", they do not qualify to be called followers of Jesus, on his words alone. Besides, SRF is governed by Hindus. So SRF might do good to some and not always let weeds choke their best plants (Yogananda words, etc). Byt SRF's claim to stand for "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ" is doleful window dressing and introduced for getting more widely accepted in the United States.
"We do not really know what is right or real ... we are often incorrect in our judgements." - Yogananda (1982:414). "We do not find fault with Paramahansa Yogananda's guidelines . . . we believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless." - Self-Realization Fellowship. [Documentation of the dogmatic stance]
So Yogananda says he doesn't know what is right or real (1982:414) and SRF says he's right, that they find no flaws with his too bossy guidelines. Its a poor fellowship that falls victim to the dogmatic tone . . . What is more, if you succumb to the verbiage, you get in a sluggard fix.
Christians got another deal than wondering about what Jesus might have said or commanded. Acts 15:29 tells what the conditions are for Christians. That deal still stands; that ought to be clear enough. Apart from getting the Spirit on board - which equals being saved according to the faith - there are just four requirements. No to blood food, strangled poultry and immoral sexuality are three, and embarrassing to all too many. Then comes another topic: Those who get a gentle deal and goes on to break it in large groups and numbers, are they stupid? To highlight it a bit:
Have you sinned? eaten wrangled chickens unawares? Are you better than an adulterer, then?
Sheep are sorted
Just as sheep are sorted into rams, ewes and lambs, the Christian flock can be sorted as well:
Which side are you on? The teachings of Jesus apply only for Jews, and the four requirements for Christians have not been done away with -
It is also good to be wary to survive. Animals in the wild live it, whereas herded animals may get too trusty as they are shephered and shorn, in the end to led to a slaughter-house or butcher and made still more use of. Do not trust seniors to your harm, then. Compare Buddha's teachings in the ground-breaking Kalama Sutta
Arming Yourself Well
Ever-new joy is an aspect of what is termed "Sat-Chit-Ananda" in Sanskrit: Sat is Being, Chit is consciousness itself, and Ananda is joy, bliss, gladnesses. That is a definition of God as the Self. The ancient Jewish word "Yhwh" is taken to mean about two-thirds of it: "I Am". It corresponds to "Chit-Sat". To be glad, you have to be (Sat), and know (Chit) and the Ananda side to the Self too. A caveat, though: Who gets into the states where Self is experienced directly, may look stupid or catatonic or looney to many. At times the conduct of such a liberated soul (jivanmukta) may deviate much. There are good stories about other jivanmuktas than Ramakrishna too.
A sound life is led on an even keel on top of probability estimates or far better, whatever that may be. The good life is marked by convenience of living. Now for an article in The Sunday Times, from 2006,
Forget the perception of France as a land of sexual fulfilment. The sad truth exposed in a new report shows that when it comes to performance in bed the French have nothing to crow about ...
Not too little, not too much, but a little, loving touch might help
Once in Denmark some woman disciples of a certain guru had got aware that their guru had had a series of erotic activities going with a large number of female disciples. The guru had had erotic, but not sexual contact with them, maybe as part of a tantric practice. It had "turned them on", away from sexual abstinence. Over twenty young women told of abuse by the elderly Hindu monk.
The disciples shouted and screamed in their disappointment. [৺Link]
❋ Such things happen.
In humanistic psychology and humanistic education there is a basic belief that runs contrary to the teaching of Jesus [Matthew 13:38,39]. Some are openly evil, others are feigning good and put snares along the path of men to catch and make use of them, and much "God-ballyhoo" serves to legitimate much evil.
Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow are two among the psychologists that hold that at bottom, deep in our hearts, we all are good and lovable. In psychiatry, that view is not "good Latin". The Norwegian psychiatrist Tollak Bakke Sirnes (1968) warns against thinking that most psychopaths will change. They may not.
Note the difference of basic beliefs.
An Ancient Teaching-Tale
This story is in part about getting the edge of beliefs against being much swayed by words. The ancient Chandogya Upanishad, (8:4:7-15) tells that Creator-God once announced that Atman (soul, Self) desires nothing but what it ought to desire, imagines nothing but what it ought to imagine. The one who has searched out that Self and understands it, obtains all worlds and all desires. That is the short of the teaching. Here is more gist from the passages:
The gods met and wanted to know how to know Atman. They sent Indra, their king, to the Creator to learn it. Much similarly, the demons held a meeting too, and sent their king, Virochana, to find out too.
Indra and the demon king both reached the Creator's place, and stayed there for thirty-two years. Then Creator-God asked them: "What do you want?"
Both said, "We wish for the Self you have told about."
Creator-God: "Atman is seen in the Eye." He gave a very pithy and precise instruction. However, it could be interpreted this way or that way, as the instruction was enigmatic. "Atman is reflected everywhere," he taught, and said that when they looked in the mirror, they saw Atman. Yet he thought to himself, "They go away without having known the Self, and may perish!"
The king of demons went to the demons and taught that the body self alone is to be worshipped and served, and those who do so, gain both this world and the next.
On his way home to the heaven of gods, Indra got second thoughts about how to understand the Creator's teaching and returned at once to clear them up. He said, "The reflection or the body self are of matter, and cannot be all of the Atman. Please tell me further."
After thirty-two more years Indra was told: "Who roves about and is happy in dreams, is Atman."
Indra left for home. But he got second thoughts about what he was told already before he reached his palace. "I dare to say a Self is not made faulty by the faults of a body or what happens in a dream. It seems to me that have not got a full teaching." He returned to God Creator, told of his doubts and was told: "So it is. I will explain it further. But first stay here for another thirty-two years. Then let me see if I can tell you something more about the Atman."
Indra stayed with God for another thirty-two years. Then God told him: "He who is deep asleep, at that is the Atman, the immortal. asleep, reposing, and at perfect rest, sees no dreams, that is the Self, this is the immortal, the fearless, this is Brahman
Indra left for home, and felt satisfied until he got second thoughts. "What is this sleep? In deep sleep I am not fully aware of all that exists." With his doubts, Indra again went back to the Creator and queried.
"Stay here for another five years, then," said God to him, and Indra did.
So, one hundred and one years after he first came to God Creator for the Supreme Knowledge, the Atman knowledge, God instructed: "This body is a vehicle and manifests the immortal, bodiless Atman. This body manifests a little of the Reality of the Atman. That is true. One's mortal life is the vehicle by which we can proceed to the nature of the Atman.
"This mortal body is the abode of that Self which is immortal and without body. Then, when the Self experiences himself different from the body, the serene being, arisen from this body, appears in a light (the knowledge of Self) and is the Sovereign. He moves, rejoicing (in his mind). Like as a horse attached to a cart, so is the spirit (prana, pragnatman) attached to this body - He who knows is the divine eye. He, the Self rejoices.
"The gods who are in the world of Brahman meditate on that Self."
This deep knowledge of Atman was had through Indra.
Rising above the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep one may attain to the immortal state, shining in nature, pure consciousness, the most serene condition of one's own Self.
One is to rise up from the limited embodiments and be turned into True Being, supreme luminosity, or the Light of all lights. It llumines itself. God's Heaven (Brahma-loka) is a state of consciousness. There is neither 'here' nor 'there', neither 'then' nor 'now'. Wherever you are, there is Brahma-loka.
Those who contemplate well on this Atman are able to fulfil wishes by mere thought, is the teaching. They can penetrate the universe.
There could be hope for many who are able to reflect or consider to get the fillet and discard the guts - and get essential teachings on how to attain, such knowhow. Mere words, merely verbal teachings, often fail.
To this day people generally say, "Here is a demon" when a person has no charitable nature. - Chandogya Upanishad. The Upanishad also shows how demons seek power without sensing many deeper givens. The Bhagavad Gita teaches about demons too, and list some of their characteristics in chapter 16.
So much for teachings from Sanatan Dharma (Eternal Righteousness). Our core beliefs about human nature determines how we handle and respond to people and situations and get exploited by psychopaths too if we do not have adequate ideas, training or handling skills.
A society has bad chances of good times if bad ones are helped on and up at the cost of good and decent ones that are counteracted by vile doings by those who reign.
Thus, good and brave people need protection, kind children likewise, and self-defence is a good thing too, opposed to sayings of Jesus of turning the other cheek, of letting aggressive intruders have your watch and home if they demand it, and so on. His teachings just do not work for fair and good ones, and is naturally damaging for a society in the long run.
Try to stay fit, protect your home by walls and bars and whatever - that is what many do. Gated communities have become a part of the American society too.
❋ Inspect carefully to handle key sides to living.
You might wonder who are good leaders. They do what they say and say what they do (Buddha), for one thing. They do not seek to impress by demagoguery and great-sounding phrases, or kissing ass insincerely. And they do not make their followers degenerate in time either.
Now who are good people, people of most worth? Interestingly, it may not be those who dress up in swaggering clothes for giving a great-looking impression, or have their bragging self-confidence tied to a swimming-pool, status cars, and bank-accounts to name a few things. Worldly esteem is not a very good indicator. Good people help others, plants, animals, humans, and in a wider perspective, as Buddha reveals many keys of. Basically they are friendly and harmonious souls who seek to live well. Sometimes they may be self-help-minded reclusive too, as part of it. And they delight in flowers - in living ones.
After pointing out a fair, long-term way to go, and showing there are great differences among people and, correspondingly, what steps and sorts of religiousness people gather around, from the primitive, torture-inflicting level to a liberated level.
"High altitude" Buddhist teachings, as many of Nyingma Buddhism are much like Vedanta teachings, all in all, just as the Encyclopaedia Britannica says:
Shankara's . . . works reveal that he not only was versed in the orthodox Brahmanical traditions but also was well acquainted with Mahayana Buddhism. He is often criticized as a "Buddhist in disguise" by his opponents because of the similarity between his doctrine and Buddhism. [However,] he tried with great effort to "vedanticize" the Vedanta philosophy, which had been made extremely Buddhistic by his predecessors. (s.v. "Shankara").
Two great differences between most of the current variants of Buddhism and of Shankara's form of Vedanta, are the acceptance of Self (Atman), and of the authority of the Veda scriptures. However, Dr Richard Gombrich reaches the conclusion in What the Buddha Thought (2009) that the most common Buddhist doctrine today, there is no Atman (Self, soul, spirit) is rooted in an ancient mistranslation of this:
Things are impermanent, i.e., ever-changing, and by that token they are not satisfactory, and by that token they cannot be the atman [spirit]. (Gombrich 2009:69-70)
Later Buddhists came to interpret "cannot be the atman [spirit]" as 'not having a self or essence', but that was not its original meaning, says Gombrich. He finds upon much study that both Pali grammar and a comparison with the Vedanta show that the true meaning is 'is not atman' rather than 'does not have atman'. And comparison with the Vedanta further shows that the translation 'self' is appropriate, he sums up (Ibid.). (Cf. Wikipedia, "Richard Gombrich").
Much of ancient Vedanta and Buddhist teachings is similar and overlapping also, as suggested in the Britannica quote above.
Gombrich, Richard F. What the Buddha Thought. London: Equinox, 2009.
Gupta, Mahendranath. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Tr. Swami Nikhilananda. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1942.
Maslow, Abraham. Motivation and Personality. 3rd ed. New York, HarperCollins, 1987.
Sirnes, Tollak. . . . at vi skal elske hverandre. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1968 and later.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.
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