Intellectualization of Spiritual Knowledge is a MAJOR obstacle!
Ekta ji, can you point to any references in scriptures or your own experience on how to identify the symptoms of being half baked in Vedanta knowledge or being caught up just in the theory of Advaita?
It is a big danger if you are caught up in the theory of the spiritual texts rather than sincerely applying the spiritual knowledge in your life. You could lower yourself spiritually below the level of an ignorant person who has not even started walking the spiritual path by doing so. That’s why, all masters warn against intellectualization of the spiritual texts.
Why is it considered low?
If an ignorant person [who has never walked on the spiritual path] does unwholesome deeds [karma] can be excused due to his lack of spiritual knowledge.
But if a spiritualist, knowingly sows karmic seeds through an unwholesome thought/speech/action disregarding spiritual knowledge, then he is bound to suffer an extremely severe fruit of action [Karmaphalam]. That’s called Pragyaaparaadha.
Signs that you are caught up in theory of the spiritual texts rather than the application of spiritual wisdom:
Sign 1] You read/hear some knowledge from a spiritual source and assume without verification that you have attained it.
For e.g., you read about Vairagya and label your ‘frustration with life’ as ‘Vairagya’ but in reality, you fail the true test of Vairagya.
What is the true test of Vairagya?
- To have the propensity to see the futility of everything in the world is true Vairagya.
- To do something unconditionally for ANYONE in the world [including enemies] is true Vairagya.
Sign 2] You have assumed that only a short time for meditation/knowledge without actual application is sufficient.
For e.g., you want to understand everything intellectually, but you don’t invest enough time and effort to know your own self. You definitely fail the true test of being a Yogi.
What is the true test of being a Real Yogi [spiritual seeker]?
- To not lose oneself in a hypnotic trance instead be 100% aware in meditation and recognize the reality of ‘Who am I?’
- To avoid mere intellectualization of wisdom.
- To overcome excuses of the mind like meditation is NOT a pre-requisite on the path.
Sign 3] You tend to condemn others for not being spiritually intelligent like YOU!
For e.g., You look down upon others who do not walk the spiritual path and think they are not good enough. You fail the test of inner purity where:
- A sincere yogi never looks down upon others/condemns others in speech/action/thought.
- There is REAL compassion for all whether they are on the spiritual path or not.
- One does seva at the cost of personal comfort WITHOUT CRIBBING, without a second thought.
Sign 4] You have become fake. Spirituality is just a fake mask that you wear to impress. This mask has a lot of intellectual words but lacks real substance.
For e.g., You wouldn’t be moralistic and spiritualistic if there was no-one watching you. You have failed the test of authenticity where:
- A true spiritualist does not do seva/satsang/courses, to show-off or to prove himself better than others.
- A true spiritualist is soaked in knowledge even when NOBODY is noticing.
- A true spiritualist does not manipulate himself or others. He is NAKED HONEST!
- A true spiritualist is NATURAL and REAL. He does not pretend or live in a make-belief world.
Sign 5] You are not walking the spiritual path for the right reason.
For e.g., You truly don’t have any desire for Liberation from Samsaara. You fail the test of ‘Purpose’. Signs of failed spiritual path purpose are:
- You are still enjoying the Samsaara and think that ‘Renunciation’ and ‘Enlightenment’ is only for sages and saints.
- You lack the effort required [Purushartha] for applying the spiritual wisdom [Gnyana]. You think that you do not need to make efforts, it will happen automatically.
- You attend spiritual community events in search of power, politics, fun, other worldly pursuits instead of the thirst to know yourself truly.
Sign 6] You have NEVER ever had any Self-realizations of your OWN.
For e.g., If you have been walking on the spiritual path, insights happen automatically. One of the most preliminary insights is ‘I am not what I thought I was’, ‘I am not the body’.
If such insights have dodged you then you have failed the true test of Swadhyaya [Self-Study] where:
- Real experiential ‘Aho’ moments transform a person totally.
Warning: There are so called ‘Aho moments’, that arise from the intellectual understanding of a spiritual concept for the first time. I call these pretend ‘Aho moments’ as they don’t leave an impact on your life.
Sign 7] You feel that you know it all.
For e.g., If you hear some familiar words of wisdom, you assume that you already know it. This blocks you from the potential of the knowledge bringing about a transformation within you. You fail the true test of ‘being-forever-a-student-seeker’ where:
- There is in essence a boatload of humility not just on the outside cover but within too.
- There is clarity that the biggest OBSTACLE to Self-Realizations is the disease called ‘I know it’.
- There is an apt amount of control on the Ego to prevent knowledge fluff [filling in gaps of spiritual understanding with baloney].
These are the 7 signs that I can think of right now. There must be more. If one identifies even a single sign mentioned above, he must work hard on himself. How?
The real challenge you can put in front of yourself is to BE AWARE of everything you say, you do, you think. Be NAKED HONEST with your own self in your actions/speech/thoughts.
- Speak less but speak honestly, from the core of your being!
- Do few things but do them with complete integrity!
- Learn to filter out thoughts. Sift through them and learn to ignore the garbage thoughts!
- Watch the Ego CEASELESSLY! Know when to withdraw and throw it into the garbage can!
Those are the preliminary steps to help purify the mind and calm it down. Then the next step is:
- Being aware of ‘Being Aware’ – Once purified, start investigating your inner environment to find the answer to the question ‘Who am I?’
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