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इष्ट विद्या
I  S  H  T  A   V  i  d  y  a
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 K n o w l e d g e  f o r  l i f e

(आत्मा विद्या Atma Vidya)

Self-Knowledge

– A revolution in modern thinking. Yoga’s next wave.

As the first wave in the ocean of yoga as exercise keeps rising higher by popular demand, Self-knowledge completes the journey by showing us that the path to oneness (yoga) has always been knowledge.

Just as the wave in the ocean already water, married to the ocean, perfect, whole and complete as it is needs no practice to refuel or make it ocean! (it can’t escape being ocean) so already conscious, the Oneness itself, no practice is needed to make you more your best whole and complete Self than you are already.

That you are conscious is already obvious, a given (you are reading this!) That the practices of yoga and meditation remind us (as they have for generations) is what the teachings are for.

Just as for the wave to even appear separate from ocean, the whole ocean is needed, so for ourselves to appear separate from Reality, everything, the whole universal creation is needed and has to come into existence first! How to deal with this ‘appearance’ of duality getting rid of all our ideas of separation is what yoga is all about and what Self-knowledge is here to teach us. 

Self-knowledge is not for everyone. You have to have a particular type of wit or intellect to understand and stomach it.

Having said that, of all things right now, the teachings of Self-Knowledge could not come at a better time.

Yoga for the new generation, as popular as yoga is today, the timeless teachings will be for the future generations. In 20 years time we will struggle understanding why people did not see the obvious.

If you haven’t already, fasten your seat belt and get ready for the next wave.

Most of all enjoy the ride!

Why do I need to know myself?

‘Surely I know myself already? I mean if anyone knows me, I do?’

Well when it comes to ourselves thats not entirely true. Knowing who we are relatively, i.e what our name is, what degree, qualification or job we have etc. doesn’t mean we know our true absolute nature. It means we have picked up a lot of information and know a lot about ourselves. All PhD’s and specialists we get full marks for knowing what we have, but when it comes to knowing who we are without name, who the name and qualifications belong to, i.e. knowing who you are without anything you get a shock.

Thinking I know a lot about a lot of things, in crisis I find out the little I know all backs up on me. 

Only in crisis do we discover out how little we know. For instance, when your car breaks down you find the mechanic knows a lot more about your car than you do. Thinking you know a lot about your home or smart phone, the builder of your home and guy at the factory making the phone knows more than you do.
Thinking I know about my mind my psychiatrist knows my mind a lot better than I do and my doctor knows my body better than I do.

So when it comes to knowing myself, I shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that someone else knows me a lot better than I know myself.

When it comes to happiness too, someone else knows a lot more about happiness than I do.

So why all the practices?

The practice of meditation and yoga are supposed to remind me of my effortless presence.

To practice mindfulness, first I need to know what I am being mindful of. In order to remain present, I need to know the meaning of presence.  Who is present. Otherwise rather than reminding me, the practice only reinforces my ignorance and gets me nowhere.

In order to remain mindful I need to know myself as the meaning and nature of presence.
I need to know the nature of my existence.

To be mindful and present means knowing yourself as that Presence in which All is present.

What is consciousness? 

आत्मा विद्या Atma Vidya

Until very recently, Sanskrit was a fiercely guarded secret. Said to have been developed and used by Siddhars as the code or password language to convey yoga’s secret, even to recite (let alone study) sanskrit was considered a privilege so prodigious that women and those belonging to lower castes (and in modern times divorced men) were considered unfit. To even accidentally overhear sanskrit would literally put your life in danger.

Until we get the teachings of Atma Vidya consciousness is just another word. Another secret.

Consciousness being ourselves is not a destination. Consciousness is the juice. The highway of life. Without it there is nothing. The highway on which all our ideas and thoughts are set in motion, pouring our consciousness into all our ideas and identifications, it is in consciousness that all journeys are taken and destinations reached.

Wanting to reach any relative destination, we have to do something. But in the case of ourselves having already reached our destination we just don’t know it.

Making everything including happiness a destination, we make ourselves another destination. How successful can we be? If consciousness is already who we are, our destination is already reached. Already the Truth we seek, reaching out for the Truth, all we end up doing is going round and round in circles.

So what can I do? Whats the secret? 

The secret has always been ourselves. Ourselves being the beginning and end of all journeys, knowing ourselves is the end of the journey. Every journey ending in ourselves, how far do we have to go to get to the end of  the journey?

Making ourselves another journey another destination keeps denying our existence.

Our understanding therefore is all that stands in our way.

How far does our lack of understanding have to go before it gets in the way? 

Until a crisis comes along our ignorance is our bliss. Getting into a crisis all our destinations get shut down and our understanding backs up on us. Questioning and being shown the truth – that there is no other destination than yourself, you realise – you were always the destination, and that there was never any crisis.

Spoilt by todays world into thinking we are only meaningful and relevant because of who we are and what we have, as a long as we keep seeing everything from this relative standpoint trying to complete our life journey is a constant battle.

Already being whole and complete, the Completeness Itself, the more we try to complete ourselves – the less complete we feel.

Seen from this perspective, yoga and consciousness too becoming another destination, become another battle that we can’t win!

Thinking because I have a body, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, personality, identity, bank account, thinking relatively, that body etc. is who I am and that these make me present, I don’t realise it is the exact opposite. That all this is doing is making me absent.

Only in a crisis when all my ideas back up on me, do I realise I’ve been seeing in reverse and everything always been the other way round.

Taking everything other than myself to be the truth, I realise I have been taking my existence for granted and been ignoring my Self my whole life.

This self-ignorance called avidya is all thats making us absent.

Ignorance like a black hole in space sucks. To remove the black hole we need to replace it with knowledge.

In crisis I realise that all my ideas are doing is making me wholly incomplete. Rather than feel secure, hanging onto ideas and beliefs makes me insecure. Making me ‘as though’ empty and absent to myself hanging onto my empty ideas resells in all my emptiness, turmoil and conflict.

Called individuality, whilst our individuality is still our only god (Ishta), still obsessed and fixated on being an individual, the only thing resonating for us is a black hole in space. Unable to see past it our ignorance keeps sucking us in getting the better of us.

Constantly lost in all our own ideas, pushing everyones buttons separating us all as individuals and as a society putting us ‘as though’ to sleep is the idea that we are awake.

Used to superimposing all our ideas on the truth, stuck on our idea of ourselves idea, using individuality like a compass, like a faulty GPS the idea keeps taking us in the wrong direction getting us in all our trouble.

Blindfolded by our ignorance, avidya, oblivious to ourselves rather than us coordinating everything, our conditioning and patterning is coordinating our lives. Used to gauging everything according to conditioning, having been fed all the wrong information, we have no option nut to let our ignorance rule and guides us. Feeding in all the wrong coordinates, everything seems to stand in our way, and it seems there are only obstacles.

But nothing is ever standing in our way and there are no obstacles.

The only obstacle is ourselves.

For any idea to present itself, first we have to be present. To think that the idea of our individuality comes first makes no sense.

Thats why the moment our individuality gets threatened or challenged in any way, feeling we are being threatened our whole world crumbles and life collapses.

The result.

Wars, more wars and endless conflict.

As sleep walkers, we are sleep walking through eternity.

What better time to wake up than in crisis?

The only time we question is in a crisis. Like waking up from a bad dream, waking up to the truth of the dreamer by being shown our true nature removes avidya.

Whether its our own ignorance of ourselves or ignorance as a society, the number one obstacle standing the way creating all our differences is Self-ignorance. Causing all our stress, crises and conflict, getting in the way of everything, avidya is all that prevents any progress as human beings standing in the way of progress as a society

Super human intelligence. 

Computers: a crisis or a blessing?
In a world fast becoming filled with technology, as we start to rely more on computers and social media, smart phones, the fear is computers and software becoming quicker, smarter and more reliable could soon end up replacing us. Already forgetting how to think for ourselves, the smarter computers and software get and quicker and more lazy our minds become as human beings the more we can end up forgetting ourselves.

Thinking computers are smarter and quicker than we are, already replacing our interaction with one  another as human beings, computers are taking over all our menial tasks at airport check-ins, switchboards, online and navigating our cars through GPS. Conversing with them through SIRI, as much as we are fixated on individuality, smart phones and smart media via the internet are also beginning to take control of our lives.

Watching someone lose a cellphone today you’d think the person themselves is dying.

Cut to AI (artificial intelligence) – if computers becoming that significant become digitally superintelligent, i.e. if computers already replacing our human brain (smart phones! – smart cars!) already thinking at the speed of thought take over – becoming that smart – (smarter than smart!) – what will become of us?

What will our future look like? What if soon superintelligent computers replace us completely?

Knowing ourselves we learn how the mind works. 

The job of any computer is to crunch data. Given complex tasks to do the computer continues eating up data until either it breaks or someone shuts it down. Computers are unconscious. Being unconscious  limits them. Controlled by software even if they end up writing their own software, as a machine, a computer can only think at the speed of thought.

Compared to consciousness thoughts are slow. Thinking at the speed of thought is what slows us human beings down.

Set by the designer of its software to perform certain functions a computer can replace the need of a human being, but can never replace the human being.  

Already used to computers, having lived with one our whole lives, our minds crunch data resolving our issues in nanoseconds. Already doing the job of a billion computers as part of human intelligence, the mechanism of the mind is unlimited in its capacity to compute and process data.

Understanding how our minds works releases us. As much as our minds are innocent computers too are innocent and need never be feared.

Only humans, the ones using them need educating.

The human mind with. infinite bandwidth, infinite memory, quicker than quick, is the quickness itself! Rooted in the timeless consciousness, in the mind of the human being, time stands still! In consciousness time itself ceases to exist. For the human being time is slow (i.e. – a petaflop is slow!)

Presence – consciousness being all there is – there being only One present – without the Present, both past and future do not exist.

Already present – consciousness Itself, trying to keep up and stay present, i.e. trying to match our minds and keep up with the computer we will always end up struggling.

But to know ourselves as that constant, in which time itself is present – the Changeless – in whom the whole Totality is already present – what struggle?

Everything struggling to keep up with the present means whoever controls the present controls the future.

There is no future without the present.

Thinking is not the problem, thinking we are our thoughts is the problem. 

If your unlimited nature and mind is still a mystery to you and you are still a mystery to yourself, in the advent of superintelligent computers, computers will not have to replace you. Your own thoughts already leaving you behind are doing their job perfectly. 

As much as a computer dealing with calculations slows us down, our minds also slow us down. But no matter how slow the mind gets at no time are we ever unconscious.

Even during deep sleep, while our mind is busy falling asleep, dropping all our ideas, even our ideas of ourselves gets dropped. Separation ceases to exist. But we are still conscious. Only asleep to ourselves waking up in the morning we remember that we slept. Totally relaxed, rejuvenated and refreshed, appearing to have slept well, even after the deepest sleep we remember.

Remembering that we slept well, we have to be conscious.

Waking up thinking we are our thoughts, our thoughts, roles and ideas rule over us and take over.

Ruling over the kingdom is one thought, the ‘I’ thought. Ruled by a thought we may as well be ruled by a computer. Seeing ourselves relatively we see ourselves relative to the ‘I’ thought and while we appear to be awake, only our thoughts, ideas and concepts are real for us.

With nothing better to do than think we are our thoughts, thoughts and ideas patterning us keep us occupied.

Making thoughts and ideas which have no dimension on their own our reality how can we ever hope to see things clearly?

Seeing ourselves as a thought we make the thought bigger than ourselves and our patterning will always have the upper hand.

The computer doesn’t have this problem. So the computer doesn’t suffer. (it also doesn’t suffer fools!)

If we want to enjoy our limitless nature, we need to take a break from our patterning.

Not a software upgrade, ‘Jailbreaking’ the human being Self-Knowledge encourages us to free ourselves from all conditioning. Awareness has no limits. No longer blindfolded by ignorance, knowledge breaks down the barrier of patterning holding us back. Removing all our limitations brings us into the real world heralding a whole new age.

Waking up to the truth of the 21st century.

To be truly free is effortless. Freedom, moksha already being our true nature, is already ours, we just don’t know it.

Jailbreaking us, Self -knowledge frees us from our ignorance by getting rid of the need of conditioning. Knowing who we are without all the patterning, the need for conditioning disappears and all the roles drop out. Liberated, no longer ‘as though’ stuck in a cage, the ‘apparent’ cloud of darkness disappears and all thats left is pure light – called consciousness – that we are already.

Thinking life is challenging, or that computers are challenging, we miss the point. The only thing challenging is ourselves.

Appearing challenged, all thats challenging is our lack of knowledge. Once we step out of ignorance – we see there was never any burden. Even ignorance only appears to be a burden.

The day we stop ignoring ourselves, as a society humans will begin to thrive again.

Freed from patterning breaking open the timeless secret that is ourselves reveals the endless possibilities of the human being.

To do this we only need to unlock one thing: this ‘I’. I is the password the secret code to humanity. The word ‘I’ is the human PIN code and password to the entire human race. The first name of every human being, free of ignorance, getting to know the Truth of this ‘I’ we break open its meaning and get the passcode to the universe.

Once answered, the huge question mark hanging over our heads disappears. No longer questioning the questioner, having all our questions answered all our problems disappear.

But first to question, we have to know that we dont know.

Knowing our true selves we realise there were no problems – only solutions.

Thus vedanta the final end and resolution of knowledge is reached. Having reached the end of the journey, you find the jewel vedanta was secretly holding was not knowledge – it was always yourself.

Not about being self centred but being centred in Self.

A delightful story is used to illustrate how like a donkey carrying sandalwood on its back smells the sweet fragrance of sandalwood all day but has no idea where the fragrance is coming from, or the value of the cargo it is carrying, so we not realising who we are, already free, can proudly go on carrying all our ideas around in our head and never get their true benefit. Having no idea what all the words mean, making up all our own ideas, able to recite the words of the prophets and seers perfectly, thinking the vedas and upanishads hold the secret, we miss the boat and the words become mere empty shells. Empty words bereft of meaning, though we can smell their sweetness, being the Truth itself, rather than freeing us as they are supposed to, words and ideas can become just another prison. The more we hold onto ideas and concepts and burden the mind, carrying around practices, rather than giving moksha freeing us meditation and yoga too can become another load we carry; another noose around our neck.

The picture of the Bunyan (peepal) tree taken in Odessa India is traditionally where the Upanishadic teachings of आत्मा विद्या Atma Vidya would take place. Traditionally the teacher knowing the Truth walking through the villages beating the drum of Truth would sit under the Peepal tree . For those interested to know, upa sitting near ni to the truth sat or shad – being the Truth themselves already ever present, as the teacher starts expounding the teachings, the words articulated ringing true, the person (student) recognising the Truth being talked about as none other than themselves cannot escape the understanding.
For this reason the Bunyan tree is sacred in india.


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