SVADHYAYA, the road to the sacred space
by Gloriant Dunăre
The fact that we learn throughout our entire life, it’s clear to everyone. We do it freely and unhindered by anybody or through all kinds of suffering. At the end of our life we become, paradoxically, the most able to live our life properly – those who we become. Becoming is somewhat equivalent to learn by heart our life, with its daily mysteries. If we wouldn’t always say it is too late, one day we could find for ourselves the whole truth.
Our daily bread, that is undivided
In the spiritual tradition, Svadhyaya represents the study of the sacred scripture, researching of the texts of ancient wisdom. Svadhyaya, the ninth rule of ethical and moral code of the yogi, brings in his being the ineffable light of knowledge. Svadhyaya can be understood as the act of studying a spiritual discipline with its implications and consequences. Svadhyaya means ultimately the study, the research on the “work of God”, on the mysteries of Creation to discover the primary Source. Without this orientation towards causa causorum, any research remains a simple and rather less useful ascertaining act. It loses its occult meaning and stays on a profane level, being used only for information which doesn’t nourish the spirit. Because Svadhyaya practiced thoroughly brings us in a certain manner our daily bread, “undivided” from the spirit.
Today towards tomorrow
But for the profane man, Svadhyaya lost its significance as a reference towards the divine, towards his own soul. The act of learning came to be mechanized so that we can operate freely, as robots. The modern correspondents of the ancient divine teachers are, with the exceptions of rigor, far from their spirits. They increasingly have the appearance of robots with a greater degree of specialization. Their students while they invest time and energy in the act of learning, they almost never reach to the essence of the knowledge. No matter how much they know, something always escapes them. The one who realizes what is that these people are losing from sight, as they are forced to learn the language of the world, will be receiving a prize – the prize of a smile – a daily smile.
Svadhyaya can be understood as well in a different way: every conscious act that leads to the assimilation of new information, which would help the human being deepen the view upon world and life, about him or herself. Every spiritual tradition is transmitting through the records and writing the spiritual essence. In all these traditional texts are presented the revelations of the founder of that specific spiritual path, various prescriptions for neophytes, as well as recommendations for different stages of their evolution – as in the book. Why is it so important to have this theoretical knowledge so well structured in us, when after all life is experience, spirit and not a dead letter? Of course, everyone knows again: for “landmarks” on our journey through life; and, of course, to not invent the wheel each one of us.
Why all this? Maybe because it was necessary for millennia to be more careful where and why we go; perhaps the answer is another. Maybe we need to re-learn to learn today with life, because our Teacher keeps telling us for some time that now is our turn to write in the Book. How come which Book? – The one where everything is written. No, I was wrong: Everything is written there.
There are two kinds of knowledge that people have at their disposal: theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge, the experience. They must be in balance. By taking just the theory without experimenting, you get to the form without content. Let’s say that it appears the mental understanding of love, but that person may still not have a clue what love really is. As a practical element, the human beings that are predominantly mental are strongly advised in the majority of the spiritual traditions to accompany this mental knowledge with the direct feeling, to experience directly much more of the spiritual information. On the other hand, the experience without the theoretical, mental understanding of what is going on leads to the inability to perform the subsequent steps. Appears a chaotic experimentation and their crystallization is very hard to achieve. This is why the inner maturity comes much harder to such a person. As practical exercise, the emotional human beings must always wonder about the causes and the consequences of their own states and experiences. This will help develop and refine the mind.
The unknown teachings from the others
We are chasing our own perspective more fervently than any stray dog chasing its tail. We take every opportunity to parade our vision if we are a little more educated; and all this only to delimit us, always and in a paranoid manner, from the rest of the Universe. We are alone and it seems normal now. We learned to live like this, some alone with the others, others alone with themselves. We taught ourselves everything. Good and bad. But we forgot one thing: the Teacher. For that learning can’t occur in the absence of the Teacher. For most of us, life, sufferings of all kinds, are the only true teacher from morning till night. There are people who learn from others, from their experiences. They manage to assimilate their findings without being required to pass through the same experiences. For the modern era in which we live, learning from the life experiences of others is a very appropriate way of personal development, of evolution. Assimilating the life experience of others has two big advantages: first, you get to live their life’ conclusions without being necessary to wait for decades to pass, the actual time they needed to understand those situations. The second huge advantage is that we assimilate their experience without having to go through the sufferings they endured. But we can understand what others understood only on one condition: to open our soul to them enough so we can empathize with them. This helps us “duplicate” them selectively within us.
We the beggars, towards our Mecca
I met a beggar once. He had clean clothes, but tattered, as all respectable and professional beggars. He seemed to be a man that received an education in life, shouting in a clear voice, like after hours of tongue twisters: disheveled hair, staring look, a bag hanging around his neck, arms wide open, and an unnaturally strong voice. He was shouting downtown as loud as he could: “Where are you, Lord, where are you?” He was going from one man to another, yelling at each one of them. May very well be a scene from a movie, but the filming crew was missing. “Another one who saves humanity… ” comments a lady stopped at the traffic light. On the other side, the beggar makes large and desperate incomprehensible gestures. Crossing the street alone towards us shouting: “Look at each other, look at God, do you see Him?” The cop from the intersection locates him and warns him. Too late already, a car hits him. Pedestrians freezes for a moment on the sidewalk, then they are flocking. The beggar stood limp and dangling one hand – he was hit pretty badly but he continues to shout, in a lower voice this time. He ran away from the policeman that is approaching but continued to do his large gestures with only one hand. He continuously shouted his speech disappearing around the corner. In ten seconds, as if somebody pushed a button, the crowd resumed to the mechanic rhythm, passing by one another like robots. They were busy, right? I looked at them one more moment. How many of them care about the fact that truths were shouted loud and clear by a beggar, through the mouth of a fool that we no longer learn other than running away from ourselves, forgetting that God is as well in every being we meet? How many of us actually care about the fact that we, the many that we forget God every day, are the real beggars on the outskirts of the holy city? Does anyone still want to learn the way? Is there still the Kingdom of Heaven for plenty of us?
There are people who listen to the voice of their soul and thus learn to be happy. Their souls are a proof that they are alive. There are still people who learn from God, from their irrepressible longing for Wholeness, from their silent longing for Eternity, for “Rest” as Eminescu would be murmuring, if he would have been here…
We are choices within the present moment
Maria V. is 32 years old and she is a social worker; she’s practicing yoga for seven years and she told me, a little shy, her secret. As a little girl, she hated reading books because at that time it was stealing from her time to play; then when she grew older, it was taking from her time for indulging in coquetry of all kinds, and later, from the time spent with her boyfriend. One day she opened the Bible, as she did before, without paying too much attention. The passage she was reading seemed obscure and heavy. Between yawns suddenly a question came to her mind, which woke her up – for a long time, as she said. “How was the person who recorded these words of Jesus that wrote them this way? How did he lived and felt all these? But what about Jesus, how was He when He said those things?” She felt a slight dizziness and sat on a chair. What happened then was to change the place where she found her North daily. “I felt a great light at the level of my head. This luminous sphere quickly swept me completely and even if everything seem like an intense vortex, simultaneously everything, but absolutely everything seemed to stand still. Now I understood instantly, I was seeing clearly, somehow simultaneously around me, feeling that I am united, with open eyes, to the whole Universe. I had no weight and I was afraid to blink, just to keep as long as possible that feeling of amazing clarity. Then I started thinking, being in that state, at many things – me, others, what is a certain thing or another etc. The answers came very clear and the meaning of everything was revealed to me as you remember something already knew. I had then, in fact, an exemplification of what really is Svadhyaya. I understood that the study of a spiritual text becomes Svadhyaya when you seek to look beyond the words and intuit the spirit within them with the awakened spirit within yourself. And the first step in receiving the knowledge of a spiritual text is the unconditional opening of one’s soul, towards what it means that writing, beyond its words.”
In fact, not a mere reading of sacred scripture makes us spiritual. Memorization, or just reading or reciting these texts gives birth for thousands of years only to scholars. Only when we understand their deeper meaning we actually access them. Only then are born men, then souls, and then gods.
The mandatory ladder of understanding
There are many levels of understanding of a sacred text. First, is the primary meaning, given by the literal meaning of the words; if someone considers that text only after the letter, not only it stays away from that teaching, but it can perpetuate its misunderstanding. See the chapter on Inquisition, Crusades, and satanic sects in human history. We have it today as well: fanatics wandering far away around bins brimming with planetary beliefs demonized by ignorance.
The next level of perception is characterized by an attempt to correlate logically the events. Here we find on the benches of the Universe another group of people, more lucid and less in number. Their effort is to link the meanings between them, but often the events described, the spiritual realities presented seem to evade to our Cartesian schemes that we use to determine, in general, relationships with others and the Universe. At this level of perception we also find the competitive beings, those with strong personalities who strive for thousands of years to squeeze a camel through the eye of a needle. No need to bother them, we may get tense replies and transformation of perspective occurs later, hardly or never.
Then we move to the next level of understanding which is the one of the soul. The language of the soul is made up of symbols: the soul it is expressed and understood by using them. Somehow you encode and decode the ineffable using something known, translatable, a symbol or a sign. Something that would say: “attention silence begins here”.
Contemplation is indicated as the easiest way to access this level. Once here, the illusory veil woven over our eyes begins to get thinner and thinner, and our discernment awakens. We realize that we have a meaning in life; we can intuit this meaning and the relationship with the world is changing. We begin to live – both in spirit and in body.
The fourth level of understanding is that of revelation. Here are just a few, talking among themselves the same language. And this is because they are regular students in courses directly taught by God. For a human being arrived here, a sacred scripture is an opportunity to have a dialogue with the Supreme Teacher. Here come those who understand the magic valences of renunciation; those who make their homes in heaven by their deep understandings; those who want to give their life exams and pass them safely; those who always aspire to be perfect disciples of the Supreme Teacher. We could all come together to learn, there are enough seats in the classroom…
May 23, 2014
Also available in: Română