Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2002-09-08
Bodhinatha speaks about Hinduism's revealed scriptures, the Vedas and Agamas. These are called sruti, "that which is heard." This ties into the 6th niyama, siddhanta sravana, which is literally scriptural "listening." The transferrence of subtle knowledge from knower to seeker occurs through listening, which is why Gurudeva would always associate with an expert, a teacher, in a given subject if he wanted to learn it. He always went beyond the book.
Starting with today's lesson. Today's 'Dancing with Siva' lesson is on Hinduism's revealed scriptures. "The Vedas and Agamas revealed by God are Hinduism's sovereign scriptures called sruti, that which is heard. Their timeless truths are expressed in the most extraordinarily profound mystical poetry known to man. Aum."
That introduces the idea of hearing. In other words, sruti isn't defined as just, sacred scripture. It is defined as "that which is heard." Meaning, that there is an oral rather than a written tradition involved in these scriptures.
Originally, the Vedas were not even written down. That is when people had good memories, I guess, amazingly! Started writing them down the last few thousand years. But originally it was just all oral, everything was memorized.
The idea is that, there is something special about hearing scripture that is being referred to here that ties in nicely with the 6th Niyama about scriptures - siddhanta sravana. Then again, how is it defined? Scriptural listening. We get this idea again, it is not just scripture and it is not scriptural study. You would normally think, "Okay, siddhanta sravana. I will pull out a book and I will study the scriptures, I will memorize the scriptures, I will reason out the scriptures." No, we are listening, we are listening to the scriptures.
Why is listening so important? Gurudeva explains that beautifully in 'Living with Siva', Lesson 51. "It is one thing to read the Vedas, Upanishads and Yoga Sutras. But it is quite another to hear their teachings from one who knows. Because it is through hearing that the transmission of subtle knowledge occurs from knower to seeker. And that is why listening is preferred over intellectual study."
That nicely focuses on the key there, which is subtle knowledge. We can grasp the basics or gross knowledge from reading. Read a book on a subject, we learn the subject to some extent. But the subtle points we will miss. It requires a teacher, requires someone to explain it to us to grasp all the subtle points. The more subtle the subject is, of course, the more important a teacher's presence is.
A good example of that is the Innersearch programs. Over the years you have all been on Innersearch and you can see it in the life of the new Innersearchers, you can see yourself, how they are coming along. You can relate that to how you came along.
Normally at first we read the teachings. We read the Master Course and we study it and we gain a certain amount of knowledge. But what Innersearch offers is the opportunity to listen. To listen to Gurudeva and now to me, to the Swamis teach, explain, explain the teachings. What happens in that process? We catch the subtle points that we missed. Because the subtlety comes through listening to someone who understands it very thoroughly.
Gurudeva explains this in a very precise way. He goes on to say, "The words will be heard. The meaning the Satguru understands as meaning, will be absorbed by the subconscious mind of the devotee." Okay, that is the first step, we are impressing the subconscious with the knowledge. "And the superconscious intuitive knowledge will impress the subsuperconscious mind of the devotees who absorb it, who milk it out of the Satguru himself."
So, we are impressing the subsuperconscious of the devotee with the superconsciousness expressed by the Satguru. What happens? Voila! "This and only this changes the life pattern of the devotee."
An important point, causing a change because we impressed the mind deeply. "There is no other way. This is why we must come to the Guru open like a child ready and willing to absorb and to go through many tests. And this is why one must choose one's Guru wisely and be ready for such an event in one's life. The really potent sampradaya is listening, actually listening to the Guru's words, his explanations. It stimulates thought. Once remembered words take on new meanings. Old knowledge is burnt out and replaced with new. This is sampradaya."
We can see there is a certain process that takes place, that is quite different than just reading a book. The power of the superconscious expression goes into our mind and changes the mind and then of course our life is just a reflection of what is in our mind, so our life changes because of that. It is beautifully explained by Gurudeva, why when it comes to scriptures or when it comes to knowledge about Hinduism, listening is so much more important than just reading. Reading is the first step and is necessary. But listening is definitely the second step and gives us the more subtle understanding.
Broadening that concept, these days we rely a lot on books. If you want to learn something, what do you do? Well, you either go to the 'Idiot's Guide for...' or 'So and so for Dummies', right? That is how we learn everything. Even 'Idiots Guide to Hinduism' came out, a very nice one. Linda Johnson, do any of you know her? She is a very wonderful person. She has studied Gurudeva's teachings and reads 'Hinduism Today' and wrote a very nice book on Hinduism. That is the trend these days. If we want to learn something, we get a book on it. It is automatic and we think that, that is sufficient. But of course, through a book, we can only learn the basic knowledge. The subtleties, we will miss them.
That is an important point to keep in mind in our own life because this concept is so prevalent. "All we need is a book." We can learn something. But that is not enough. To learn something well, we need to associate with an expert in it, listen to them. Gurudeva is a wonderful example of this. His whole life, he was absolutely consistent. If he wanted to learn something, he would never read a book, absolutely not. Never once did he read a book to learn something. He would find a person who was an expert in that and talk to them on a number of occasions. Absolutely consistent, that is how he learned many things in different fields. Through the experts, absorbing the knowledge in person from the expert. Gurudeva was an expert at absorbing knowledge in that way.
So, it is important in our lives to remember that. If it is something we want to learn very well, we should not rely on a book. A book is a good start but we should go beyond a book and find someone who is an expert in it, associate with them and listen to them. Let their knowledge rub off on us.
The same principles apply to any kind of knowledge. As Gurudeva talks about spiritual knowledge, we have to be open. Just as to absorb spiritual knowledge we have to be open to the Guru, to absorb any kind of knowledge you have to be open to the teacher, which means be respectful. It is a wonderful tradition, bringing the teacher a flower, showing that respect, being humble, listening carefully. Realizing that they know a lot more than we do and being able to fit into that concept. In that way, we can learn many, many things, just like Gurudeva did in a fairly intuitive way. It is much easier, if you have that approach than going through a laborious process of reading books.