There is a reason that one of the most important ways of knowing in Yoga (a fundamental aspect of the field’s epistemology) is through direct experience with clear/undistorted (“uncolored”) awareness. This kind of knowing gives you the advantage of clarity and connection to Truth that blind speculation and ideological, emotion-fueled, misperceptions/assumptions (opinions based on ignorance, incorrect inferences, and so forth–individual and collective) cannot bring.
Though after attaining direct experience that brings direct knowledge, you will still be able to “accept” (as if you had a choice, since no experience exists based solely on your mental validation) the presence of differences/variation in other people’s “subjective” experi11ence, even when their experience, and/or their perspective on their experience, may differ from your own in a number of ways (based on the shape of their mind and their receptivity to undistorted understanding). Being able to see Truth beyond superficial appearance, and also to recognize any misperceptions that may be present in any given cognition (since, after all–on the physical plane of existence–, you are different from other people with different lives/experiences, different physical and subtle constitutions, different levels of awareness, different access to different quality of information, different predispositions to seek/value Truth, different abilities to see/personally accept Truth, contexts of existence, etc)–when you know a Truth within you with certainty/clarity (not a relative opinion based on an interpretation of a neutral empirical observation, which is only useful–by a broaaaad definition of that word–for operating in the socially negotiated world, or surviving in the physical one), and you know that Truth from a pure place of undistorted perception that you can neutrally state is fact (or a given) and not based on emotional attachments or aversions, no one can lead you astray with seductive or convincing arguments/words or with warped ideologies that play upon your emotions, desires, fears, conditioning, etc to manipulate you into any given agenda that will keep you karmically bound with them via lower attachments (especially when you have no attachment to the above-mentioned things).
IMPORTANT POINT: Knowledge is an ever-present Reality. It is an aspect of consciousness that is more Real than the atoms that make up your physical body, simply because atoms come in and out of existence and constantly change form, and Truth/Knowledge remains unchanging. Clear perception, or pure awareness, is the tool through which knowledge is received. Knowledge of Reality is uncovered; one “comes to” understanding. Knowledge is “found,” illumined/illuminated by awareness, and/or “revealed,” so, when pursued with focus and sincerity, Knowledge can be fully seen about anything. With focus, concentration, contemplation, meditation, or any aspect of directly, intently, and closely (with pure awareness) “looking,” one sees what is there to see (it comes to you like a river with no obstructions, flowing into the infinite ocean of all that is), because one is pure awareness/consciousness itself. One does not create knowledge, one receives, acquires, gains, knowledge, which is pure/clear when perception is pure/clear. In Yoga, the primary form of knowing is direct perception, where the clearest method for direct perception is creating the opening and conditions for knowledge to come through (undistorted) into one’s awareness…Union (with Truth, the divine, the Absolute Reality) is Yoga. Yoga exists on every dimension of being as a natural part of our nature when we are resting in the direct experience of being our pure Self.
When you know something through pure, direct, awareness/perception and/or from experience, only then can you conclusively state that you are either “in agreement with,” or “against” the validity of any given claim or thing observed within tangible physical reality. Which is why, until then, you are best served remaining in a state of neutral observation (no emotional or other attachment) with receptive, clear, focus that allows you to fully see what needs to be seen.
What is the “value” of this type of observation? Well, for one thing, those who are bound to ideologies, or particular world views (composed of preexisting thoughts/notions about the world, people, places, objects, and so forth, also known as chitta vrritis), cannot see the pure Reality that “sets one free.” If you are too attached to one way of seeing in the world, you cannot see beyond your limited attachment. If your mind is solidified into a particular shape, you see that shape and that shape alone (as is the nature of focus), and filter everything through a very limited lens. If you focus on worldly things, for example, you get connected/bound to the limitations of the world. If you focus on higher perceptions, and being, however, you come into your liberated, boundless, eternal, nature.
All mind shapes that are not purely reflecting the Truth of your pure, formless, nature, are a distortion of the naturally open and pure state of being, and knowing, that comes with “uncolored” awareness. And if you cannot see clearly, due to a distortion, or a restricted mental facility, you can never clearly see/know your True Self, True peace, True joy, True Reality, etc, that will set you free. Having a clear and unattached mind is, therefore, the most effective way to reflect upon anything, as Sutra 41 states. When you look at something purely without the binds of mental conditions/conditioning, you can see it clearly, and not simply reflect the condition of your mind onto it (which can never reflect the True Nature).
With a clear level of perception, a level not bound to seeing/being in a certain way, one perceives the full scope of a thing with clarity, and with clarity in thinking, one is further able to identify any impure or pure perceptions within her/himself, which supports her/him to further dissolve binding misconceptions or cultivate greater, clearer, awareness. One who is connected to the full scope of possibilities for perception, that comes through pure awareness, is not swayed by claims of authority or even revelation without questioning arguments that state, “because I said so,” or “take my word for it,” or “this is how I interpret what someone else did,” or “this is how I interpret what someone else potentially thought or experienced,” against what they actually know or are capable of knowing/verifying for themselves.
Knowing a thing directly, or understanding that, if it is True, then one can certainly eventually come to know it with clear perception, eliminates/minimizes doubt (even while it still leaves the door open for potentially deeper understanding and discovery–that could be otherwise once validated). A person with only mental speculation/assumption (which indicates solidified/attached thought patterns)–since speculation is itself an even less accurate way of knowing anything than misunderstood/misinterpreted experience that can be corrected with greater clarity–can only come to pure awareness/knowledge by dissolving all of their incorrect way of perceiving.
Speculation, especially speculation resting on incorrect assumptions that go unexamined, is like grasping in the darkness (and possibly even the wrong place in the darkness) for answers. In fact, it is clear direct perception alone that strengthens all other forms of knowing in Yoga, which naturally means that this is also true in life as well. Direct perception does not turn the search for Truth into a cyclical and pointless play of ego-posturing or verbal or cognitive gymnastics, or even worst, turn the search into an excursion in basic fantasy. Direct perception (when pure), instead, creates confident clarity grounded in Absolute Truths that are reflective of the Absolute Reality (which is why the Vedas, for example are considered authoritative texts that come from the clear perception of the “sages” and “Masters”).
Everyone, for example, has not perceived “God” directly in this lifetime (being blinded/confused by illusions and mental distortion), which is why there is so much mental and verbal gameplay around the topic. Everyone, however, directly knows that he/she him/herself exists (at least we can infer this with confidence) and so there is less debate about this fact. If everyone were to perceive clearly and fully (without ego distortion), however, no one would have any questions/doubt about “God” or the True Self.
Directly gained clear seeing will give you confidence and discernment that saves you a great deal of time and energy (among other things) on your inward journey and it will also ensure that you can effectively take inspired action only as needed while you focus your attention on the things that truly matter and, therefore, will more effectively support you to achieve your inner goal of deeper/higher awareness that leads to stronger connection with the Truth of/and/with the Self. For example, if you trace the Self (which is self-evident) back to its origin Source, what do you find?
Clarity, confidence, and discernment will all minimize the possibility of you being distracted, or mislead, on your path.
So, you come to know the Self directly, because if you already are your Self, then you obviously can verify this for yourself with clear perception. Which means that even if someone tells you about the pure Self/Absolute Reality, and is a trustworthy source, you must still verify, through direct perception with clarity, the Truth for yourself for it to be True within/for you (if it matters to you), even though your knowing or seeing does not change the inherent Truth of the Reality of the Self itself (since this Truth is a given).
Clear Cognition Is A Skill And A Natural Ability That Must Be Refined And/Or Cultivated
One of the best ways to build the skill of clear perception, among other things, is through mindful quality practice, in whatever form that this practice manifests specifically for you in your life, but supported by true meditation.
With the clarity, confidence, and discernment of direct perception, you can then more accurately employ other methods of knowing that involve looking within Maya and discerning Truth beyond it, such as inference (Anumana) or Shabda (valid testimony), which are the other two epistemological grounds upon which Yogic Knowledge is pointed to, so that Knowledge can then be gained, through focus/concentration (or moving in the direction of it).
When you move toward/to clarity, all falsity becomes illumined by the light of understanding/awareness. Even clarity (which, in some religions/spiritual communities grounded primarily in Shadba is called “faith”) the size of a “mustard seed” (to use a common analogy) is enough to wipe away sufficient enough attachment to ignorance to get you on the path to liberation, which truthfulness and discipline (and other Yamas and Niyamas) help you to maintain.
Always Check Your Assumptions And Strive To See Things Clearly And Directly
Someone once told me a story about how his nephew, one semester, after looking around his life and comparing what he saw on TV and amongst his colleagues in Elementary School, started bragging to everyone about how he was a millionaire (and they weren’t). The little boy bragged for days (and possibly even weeks) about how rich he was, and how fancy his home was compared to others, until one day his father found out and sat him down for a talk.
“I’m rich,” his father told him. “You just happen to be the son of a rich man and live in my house.”
The child had inferred a sense of identity that made him conclude that he was wealthy based on what he saw around him, not recognizing that the presence of physical wealth had nothing to do with him directly, but was due to his association/relation to someone else who had created and maintained wealth and involved him in it.
Children, in general, do this quite often, don’t they? From Kindergarten, many already hold conditioned beliefs that lead them to categorize themselves and others into groups to make sense of who they are (most likely picked up from observing the world and adults around them). Based on clothing, skin color, hair texture, accents, etc, children create incorrect associations about identity based on uncorrelated objective/limited perceptions, and follow the behavioral cues/patterns of adults (and their own self-fulfilling assumptions) thusly, until they are thoroughly convinced about their fabrications by high school and take this immature, inaccurate, way of seeing into the working world as adults, making important decisions about the world and society grounded on nothing except their adopted and created false perceptions of self and “others.” This pattern is an example of what happens when inferences are founded on incorrect perceptions and assumptions.
The book/movie Children of The Corn, by Stephen King, is another example that shows the issues that can arise when lack of experience/clear perception causes further misconception when it comes to verifying testimony/insight shared by others. The children in that story blindly (without any real proof or direct connection to personal insight, meaning that they did not even think about the logic behind what they were told, but just took another’s word at face value) followed a false prophet (being already primed to follow a certain type of framed argument via a particular belief system) who claimed to be hearing the message of God, when their prophet was actually listening to the message/direction of a demon (not even “the devil” himself, but some lowly demon going through random cornfields and creating misery via naïve children). The children’s false prophet easily went on to lead them to commit atrocious acts of violence against the adults in their community (despite the fact that maybe some of their parents were even good to them at some point), which eventually lead to their demise and destruction in the name of “revelation.”
From incorrect conclusions to destructive delusions, lack of clear perception can lead to a variety of miseries. And with Maya appearing to be so real and convincing to the human body-mind, it is easy to get swept away by even the slightest cognition that takes the illusion to be more real than it is. After all, your own thoughts, even if you ignore those shared by others, seem so substantive don’t they?
If one remains grounded in the Truth and the unchanging Reality, however, it becomes easier to spot what is malleable versus eternal…what is True versus relative…The key is to become masterful at discerning between the two and living in a state of awareness that keeps one in the clear.
The prescription in Yoga, therefore, is to purify your body-mind and ego and then learn to clear your mind (via an eightfold process of purification), so that you can come into a higher expression of being that is reflective of your natural state of existence, not a mystical state (a term which many often use to connote an out of the ordinary, rare, or special experience because it is uncommon to “the “normal” clouded perception) like is often incorrectly perceived by those who read about Samadhi and misinterpret what is stated, but a natural state of clarity. Because what is abnormal about being your Self? What is more natural than “communing directly with “God”” if this is your True nature?
Once you have this clarity, you recognize that everything else is “abnormal,” which is probably why renunciation naturally occurs when one “finds God,” because nothing else compares. Everything outside of this Union feels like a dull, pale, subpar illusory dream, a mediocre drama or horror film (if one gets particularly lost in suffering due to over-identification with the illusion, or is somehow longing for something in the world due to some internal blockage/ignorance), where “God” is everywhere but torturously feels too far away for comfort.
If you still think that being steeped in the illusions of Maya, having millions of vrittis around everything that occurs in existence, and strong opinions (as opposed to neutral understanding) about, and attractions and aversions to, everything from plants to animals, to limited views on other people’s experiences/existence that you cannot have direct cognition of (being in your own direct reflection of an ultimate Truth that does not hold any one expression to be the ultimate Truth–Sutra 4.4), is “natural” versus resting in your True nature that is clearly reflective of the undistorted Self, then you still have some confusion.
Samadhi is a more pure and natural state of being than being dysregulated and disconnected from One/one’s Self–mystical: yes, by the traditional definition, but certainly not rare, or abnormal, like the colloquial connotation. All experiences that are outside of pure reflective clarity are just experiences that are “common” within Maya and reflective of the state of the mind/being colored/shaped by different levels of vrittis, in the form of the five mental distortions discussed in Sutra 6, of which even right knowledge is a vritti.
Remember, please, however, that what you are coming to know in Yoga is your Self, because what else, can you honestly say, is here for you to know? What else can be proven to exist from direct perception (or any valid direct perception of “others”), other than the Self? The Self looking into and at itself…that is all…and, on the clearest level, at all that is (when it is known as one with/as the Self).
Know your nature, and don’t take the illusion more seriously. Keep practicing, aligning, and moving forward…Leave all non-sense and non-Self in the form of fabricated misconceptions behind.
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