Right knowledge

If you only read one article on this website, I would like to suggest you make it this one! Core beliefs form our world view. I urge everyone to stop and consider this for a moment. We need to be very careful during our awakening process; we need to check that sources of new information are reliable. What we accept helps to shape our view of the world. As our awakening unfolds, our view of the world is in a constant state of flux. This article looks at the different ways of obtaining right knowledge and how accurate the different methods are. Simply reading this article can help you look at what you believe, and why. You may find as I did, a lot of the things I believed to be true… are not.

A large part of the awakening process involves the growth of our discernment.

quotesDiscernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions or to judge well (or the activity of so doing). In the case of judgement, discernment can be psychological or moral in nature. In the sphere of judgement, discernment involves going past the mere perception of something and making nuanced judgments about its properties or qualities. Considered as a virtue, a discerning individual is considered to possess wisdom, and be of good judgement; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others”. Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discernment 

From my experience, most of us too readily accept the world view and thoughts of others without asking hard questions. If someone has a well-informed opinion on a particular subject which has strong foundations, they should not mind being questioned, right? That approach serves us well when searching out the truth of something. If resistance appears, especially if it appears quickly, such as “because I say so” be very careful!

Right knowledge is a key subject, central to the awakening path. Let us review what the yoga sutras has to say about right knowledge, this will help us review our beliefs and their roots.

Patanjali Statue

Patanjali Statue
The yoga sutras of Patanjali - right and wrong knowledge

Reference point. Book one – Samadhi Pada, 7

“The sources of right knowledge are direct perception, inference and scriptural testimony.”

As we can see, we have three separate components

1. Direct perception

2. Inference

3. Scriptural testimony (“that which has come down”. It also means “a traditional doctrine, or system which commands faith”).

Let’s break those down.

Direct perception

Direct perception is a huge subject; we need to delve much deeper to understand it. I feel the subject is central to understanding our new awareness, I would be doing you a dis-service if I didn’t go into more detail. I hope I don’t lose you on this one! Feel free to comment below.

Firstly, we need to note the difference between perception and direct perception.

quotesPerception (from the Latin perceptio, percipio) is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical or chemical stimulation of the sense organs.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perception#Perception_as_direct_perception

Direct perception would be closer to the word Nous.

quotesIn philosophy, common English translations include “understanding”. It is also often described as something equivalent to perception except that it works within the mind (“the mind’s eye”). It has been suggested that the basic meaning is something like “awareness”. In colloquial British English, nous also denotes “good sense”, which is close to one everyday meaning it had in Ancient Greece”. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nous


Directly you have not seen, but everything proves it; it must be so. An example of this would be, if you see smoke on the horizon, you assume there is a fire.

Scriptural testimony – that which has come down

quotesBut there are few things you cannot infer even, and you have not known. But you are not the first on this earth, you are not the first seeker. Millions have been seeking for millions of ages. The search is eternal and many have arrived. They have reached the goal, they have entered the temple. Their words are also a source of right knowledge. Source: Osho – THE Alpha and the Omega, Volume 1.

The challenge with the last point is, how do we decide who to trust? Choosing sources to trust is much harder when our awareness is not sufficiently developed, in time clear discernment will make this easier.

Every individual has to decide for themselves which sources of testimony they trust. Which sources are dependable, once a decision has been made we should test the information to ensure it helps us grow. After an extensive search of ancient literature I have found the yoga sutras to be a trustworthy source. Based primarily upon testing the information against my life experience. You can see my other articles on this website for further justification.

The good news

As our awareness and consciousness expands, it gets much, much easier to use discernment. A big part of this is developing the skill of listening, if we listen while we are mindful we can hear a lot more! Empathy is a good skill to use while listening, it’s actually possible to experience another persons emotion as we listen intently. This is a wonderful approach for any counsellor or healer to use, it gives us the ability to be in the other persons shoes and really understand what they went through, even if it’s only a tiny taste of the entire experience.

The below quote is included for those who would like a deeper view of empathy and direct perception.

quotesBy direct perception we mean what is actually perceived when the inner capacities of Essence are functioning. For instance, the capacity of empathy is commonly recognized, and acknowledged by some psychologists as a valid mode of perception. When this capacity is developed, one does not vaguely sense the emotional state of the other person, but one is clearly conscious of the exact inner state of the other. One knows what the other feels, where in the body the feelings are, what tension patterns accompany the state, how the other is interpreting this state, and even what is underneath the state in the unconscious”. Source http://www.ahalmaas.com/glossary/direct-perception

As we learn to listen intently, we can detect deceit, lies and right from wrong, without any hesitation. You will no doubt find as I did, people are often lying to themselves first, and lying to us second. They don’t even know they are doing it most of the time! Deep truth or real understanding becomes very transparent to an awakened individual, you won’t even feel the need to question your discernment after a while.

What we are trying to get away from is, the western way of being/communicating, which often starts with, “I think”. As our intuition develops, and we start to speak from our heart more often, we soon realize, how limited the brain is. Superficiality can often deceive the brain. What we are ideally looking for people to say is, in my heart I feel, or, I know this because of XYZ.

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