Causes of Misinterpretation

imperfections of the mind

In the previous blog some clarity was attained on yoga (to be pronounced as yog), it’s true meaning and how it has been misinterpreted not only in the west but in the east as well. The primary reasoning for a parampara (tradition) of guru-shishya (master-disciple) to be the only actual means for the great knowledge of self realisation, was to protect the disciple from misinterpretation and to directly implement the rules of the tradition through constant observation.

The misinterpretation of scriptural knowledge or experiential knowledge takes place due to the imperfections of the conditioned mind. It is very simple to understand how this happens. We’ll elaborate through a simple example. If the same book is read by many readers, they all gain a different perspective of it depending on the conditioning of their minds (i.e. their attachments and aversions). If the readers of the book were told to teach others what is written in the book, the same original information in the book will get further diluted.

Most of the systems of yoga were not meant to be factory units of mass production of spiritual masters, as that was quite rightly understood, to not be a practical possibility. The only validity of the traditional system of master-disciple is the current existence of true masters no matter how few there might be. Today, due to the dilution of the truth of even the methods of yog, almost all spiritual seekers remain seekers their entire material lives and are not able to be truly self realised.

In the strongest of traditions of yoga, it was always understood that true knowledge can only be passed on by a self realised master. Being a pupil of such a master meant, to truly surrender (your material identity and possessions) to the master. This is true even today. Only if one is very strongly on the path of yoga would one be willing to let go of ones material identity entirely(as one would be realised enough to know the paramount importance of the spiritual journey). The greatest yogi’s of this age (there are very very few of these remaining and none are in the public eye) are following the same rules and traditions that have been followed since the beginning of their respective methods of yoga. Only the pure mind (completely void of desire) can transmit the truth to a seeker.  An impure mind will always add it’s own impressions to the truth hence the knowledge will not remain in it’s original state.

Even though we cannot always seek a master, we must understand the imperfections of the mind and give authority to the great masters of the past. This would mean to give absolute authority to scriptural knowledge(not leaving it open to self interpretation). Our only challenge would be to have the intelligence to find the reliable translations of the scriptures we would deem to authorize, depending on the system of yoga we resonate with. We should only study and practice these to that point of self realisation where we understand it to be an absolute necessity to find a master. Initially we may find masters who are not completely self realised, but if they are strongly and earnestly on their own paths they can also be of great aid to the seeker. A true yoga master and system  will only come to the seeker of the purest intention.

The ancient scriptures form an extremely large array of endless knowledge that needs deciphering from a pure mind so that it is valid for the character of the seeker. This gives rise to the different systems of yoga. All the paths of self realisation stem from the major systems of yoga. In the next blog entry we will discuss the major systems of yoga and how every yoga practice would require a part of each of the systems to be integrated within it. How the integration would take place, depends on the mental and spiritual characteristics of the individual.  It is the primary reason why there are such a large number of methods that stem from a different blend of the yoga systems. These methods will be discussed in detail later in this blog.

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5 thoughts on “Causes of Misinterpretation

  1. What Sri Aurobindo has said may be factually correct, however it seems to be underestimating the uniqueness of the only asset mind to conceptualize cosmos and think about it.

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    1. Appreciate your perspective. The mind is known to be a hindrance, as the experience of the infinite reality(the state of Samadhi), is only known to be attainable by the perfect stillness of the mind(which is what the ultimate goal of yoga is defined as by Rishi Patanjali the author of the Yogasutras). Western systems of thought(Science as we know it) and philosophy have been attempting to conceptualize the cosmos since Socrates. We all know that if Science had all the answers to the constructs of the universe the human race wouldn’t be the self destructing time bomb that it is. Concurrently a pure mind(a mind completely void of all desires) may have the ability to somewhat create a reflection of what is(the truth), as many great seers and sages have been able to do. Though even this knowledge is known to be inferior to the knowledge of the direct experience of the truth(which you can read about in the same blog in the post”The classification of Ancient Indian knowledge”.

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      1. Through “perfect stillness of mind” one may find inner restfulness and peace within and in society, but if all people engaged in that practice, I am afraid physical exploration of the great cosmos will suffer. We can’t blame science for being unfriendly to environment or cause of destructive wars. That is the fault of man’s choice. We can always redirect human endeavor through proper education.

        Inner peace and self-conceived understanding of cosmos inside one or few minds has nothing to do with scientific method of understanding cosmos, though they may luckily overlap at times. I think we are talking about two different ways of thinking about the self and surrounding. One the practices of yoga leading to self-exploration leading to self- satisfaction & self-conceived comprehension; and the other is active effort by human mind based on evidence and rigorous experimentation regarding understanding the principles governing the cosmos.

        Human mind may at times be a hindrance to understanding the reality, but it is only human mind that has the ability to deal with hindrances to understanding. After all, all evolving reality is creation of human mind.

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      2. Physical exploration of the cosmos as a concept is born out of pride. The space race been the US and USSR reflected exactly that. A showing of technological and monetary domination. Prathistha is a Sanskrit word that defines all that is done for fortune, fame and pride. It is this quality of the human race that has devolved us into the current condition.

        Man’s choices are based on his falsified sense of self where the “I-sense”, that one speaks from is based on the identification of self as body and mind(separate from others), whereas if realisation in any being would take place they would naturally become more selfless in their behavior, where they would be thinking more in terms of community, national or universal benefit depending on the level of their realisation. Evolving to a civilization of self realised beings would then be the fastest way to physically explore the cosmos as well,as we would be living in a society based on the universal principles of love and oneness rather then the self beneficial societies that we are living in today. This realized society would then be furthering universally beneficial technologies and innovation rather than the self benefiting situations that we are existing in where every country spends most of their resources on defense technologies.(Though maybe more noble ideals than the physical exploration of the cosmos may have been prioritized if that were to occur).
        The understanding of the principles governing the cosmos took place long before the advent of modern science or western philosophy. The Vedic Rishis who were highly realized and well versed in the practise of yoga were primarily concerned with the spiritual development of all of society. Through their deep states of Samadhi they also evolved the most perfect language in the world, Sanskrit, with a scientific alphabet and perfected vocabulary, and a grammar which is itself a great work of art.  Their intellectuals vying with each other, propounded six systems of philosophy explaining man, universe, and God, before which Aristotle’s and Plato’s theories look like juvenile endeavors. They discovered the Earth’s dual motions, and studied the courses of constellations and stars, and founded the twin sciences of astronomy and astrology. They probed the human frame, and perfected a system of medicine for the welfare of the body, evolved the science of Yoga for the health of the mind and spirit, and the Tantra Shastra to develop the psychic and esoteric forces latent in man’s being. They brought out Dharma Sastras to guide man’s conduct in society, Grihya Sutras to guide the conduct of house-holders, and a unique science, Meemamsa, prescribing sacrificial lore for the attainment of individual and national prosperity. They codified the laws of sanitation, town-planning, architecture, sculpture and enunciated the principles of music, dancing, and the art of love. They laid down principles of state-craft, and of the art of war, with human and animal strategy, with physical weapons, or shastras, and enchanted weapons or astras.
        No self realized saint would just be sitting self content on a mountain(though the process of self realisation might take one there) as the concept of the self becomes much greater than a body or an individual. The body may then consist of the entire universe. If one begins to think like that one may be compelled to heal the sick or damaged parts of the body. Just like one tends to attend to a wound if one is injured, or cure a fever if one is sick. That would mean complete selfless service to all to the best of ones ability, seeking in it no benefit, just the healing of the entire cosmic body through the self realisation of others. This may take place on many levels and in varied forms. Rather than being a deterrent to the benefit of society, a self realized being would be an asset to furthering growth toward the betterment of all of humanity just like the example of the Vedic era, hence it is not something that is separate from science.

        Innovation, the mother of all arts and sciences, it seems, doesn’t stem out of some logical understanding of a concept. Rather it stems from a space considered to be outside the limitations of the mind. The word “genius” was coined for any individual displaying incredible abilities of innovation and re-invention. The words roots stem from the term “gin”(genie), which was considered to be this entity external of the mind supplementing this barrage of ideas. The logical implementation of an idea can mostly be the easy bit if the idea is very clear and valid and is coming from a place of clarity and truth. (Note that innovation may be required to implement the idea as well but no great scientific discovery would have taken place unless the idea had first arrived, apart from the ones that happened by accident.)

        Einstein said “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” So if all that surrounds us is the creation of the human mind, we probably need the genius that lies dormant within us all, so we can go beyond the mind and truly innovate and create the change that we want to see.

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