The Importance of Hearing from a Qualified Spiritual Teacher, Part 1 of 2
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Jagad Guru teaches that the yoga of understanding comes by hearing wisdom from someone with true knowledge.
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Learning by Hearing
The yoga system teaches us that there are three ways of learning: by hearing, by seeing, and by doing. Of these three, learning by hearing is superior. Consider a thief, as an example. If he hears from authorities that stealing is bad and that, if you steal, you will go to jail, he can easily choose, “I am not going to steal.” He refrains from stealing because he has learned the easy way—he has learned by hearing.
Someone else might see a friend get arrested and sent to jail for stealing, and realize, “Oh no, I am not going to steal, I don’t want that to happen to me.” They learned the lesson, which is good, but their learning process was more difficult—they had to see for themselves.
The third way of learning is by doing. A person may have been told that stealing is bad, they see their friend arrested for stealing, and yet they still steal. After getting arrested and going to jail themselves, they finally realise, “I get it, stealing is bad. Now I am suffering being locked up in jail. I am not going to steal again.”
Other thieves don’t learn at all. They’ve heard, they’ve seen, they’ve done, they have been arrested, they are in jail, they get out of jail, and what do they do? They go back out and steal again.
It is best to learn the easy way, by hearing from authorities. In fact, this is the yoga system for understanding the truth, for gaining wisdom and knowledge—hearing from someone who knows what they are talking about.
The Reservoir of Truth
The yoga system has been handed down in a line of spiritual masters for centuries, through a process which is called parampara, or disciplic succession. To understand this system, picture a giant reservoir. But instead of water, this reservoir is full of truth, the Absolute Truth. Just as there is a system in place to deliver water from a reservoir to the tap in our kitchen, parampara is a transcendental system of delivering the Absolute Truth to us. The “water” is coming down to us; it’s freely available, it’s there for every single one of us to receive, but we need to go to where it’s coming out of the “pipe”.
If you turn on your tap, you expect there to be water. There is a system in place. The water comes down from the reservoir, through the pipes. You turn on the faucet, and out comes the water. Likewise, the parampara system, which involves the Absolute Truth being handed down from one bona fide spiritual master to another, makes the absolute truth readily available to anyone who hears from a bona fide teacher.
Therefore, we’re advised in yoga scripture not to just seek out any guru, but to seek out a self-realized soul. In the yoga system, if we want to learn the truth, we are taught to go to the source of all truth, to the Supreme Soul, to God. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Sri Krsna explains this as follows:
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Enquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”
It’s important to understand that this system is something that the Supreme Lord Himself established and has put into place for our benefit. These teachings date back to before the dawn of time and are not something that anyone has made up.
We will visit more aspects in Part 2. Stay tuned!
Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda is a yoga spiritual teacher in the disciplic succession known as the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya. This highly respected spiritual lineage extends back over 5,000 years to Lord Sri Krishna Himself.
Because he presents ancient bonafide yoga and Vedic wisdom in a down to earth, scientific, and philosophical manner, rather than dogmatically and fanatically, countless individuals have found genuine spirituality that has real application in their modern lives.
More information about him can be found here: https://sif.yoga/about/jagad-guru
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