The Tree of Knowledge
“The intuitive knowledge is beyond intellect”
There are three type of knowledge or information we get. One is through the five senses. You see and you get some knowledge, you listen and you get knowledge, you smell and you get information, you get information through taste and touch. Most of our knowledge is gained by these five senses.
Now this is another type of knowledge – that gained through the intellect. The knowledge gained through the intellect is superior to knowledge gained through the senses. Science is knowledge gained through the intellect. What all you see with your eyes is the sun setting, but what you learn through science is that the sun doesn’t set. It is the earth which revolves. You have not seen the earth revolving through any of the five senses, but through intellect you understand that the earth is revolving around the sun. Like when you keep a pen in a beaker of water — what do you see? The pen is bent. That is the perception, but the intellect says no; it is not bent, it is an optical illusion. This is the knowledge through intellect.
Now these two levels of knowledge are very much inferior to a third level of knowledge — intuitive knowledge. That is knowledge from the spirit that comes from silence. It cannot be verified by the senses or the intellect. Life begins when we tap into that level of knowledge. Now, how would you tap into this level of knowledge? For that you have to let go of the knowledge of the senses and that of the intellect and relax. The moment you let go, then what you gain through the senses, the cravings and aversions come to an end. All of our cravings and aversions are about the five sensory perceptions. It cannot be anything beyond that.
For some time you say, ‘now I don’t want to see anything, I don’t want to hear anything, I don’t want to smell anything, I don’t want to taste anything, I don’t want to touch or know anything; I’m just going to be.’ Then intellectual concepts, judgments, decisions, to all that you say, ‘I don’t even need to know anything, I don’t care for anything.’ Letting go of concepts is the second step. ‘Things should be like this’ and ‘things should be like that’… blah blah blah… all these are intellectual perceptions. Or, ‘am I doing the right thing?’ ‘Am I on the right path?’ ‘Am I on the right track?’ Once you drop all these things you, then silence begins and when silence begins then the knowledge from the third level dawns.
That knowledge is called Ritambhara knowledge – the true knowledge that comes from beyond the intellect that is the intuitive knowledge. Everyone has got this ability and you have experienced in your life this gut feeling, knowledge from somewhere, which you cannot really make out what it is. Somewhere you feel this is the right thing to do and something happens in your tummy. And that knowledge comes up at that time but then we don’t honour it. Many time we stick to the intellect or sensory perceptions.
Sometimes your intellect says this is wrong what you are doing, but you don’t listen to the intellect and you keep doing the wrong things. How many of you have had this experience? What do you do? You stick to the sensory and ignore the intellectual knowledge. And then what happens? You sometimes go beyond your intellect. Your intellect is saying something, but your inner gut feeling is saying something else.
Sometimes your mind says no: I want to quit doing all this spiritual practices. I don’t care for that; I don’t care for hopes. Many people do this, they try to quit but something deep inside — the impressions, samskaras, some good karma — they just keep you going and then you are back on track and happy. You feel, ‘Good thing I didn’t do it, I didn’t act on my impulses.’ Those are the moments when something beyond your intellect has taken over and worked.
When we started Art of Living, in the very beginning I could see that there are millions of people going to come on this. I was just 22 or 23, just out of my teens. I said, ‘no I don’t want to start it.’ My intellect would say ‘no, so what? Someone else will come and do all this and take care of everybody.’ I had no ambition, no desire to start any movement at all. I was happy, I’m happy now also, but I thought why would I take some headache, I don’t want to. I was a bit shy, and my intellect was always saying ‘oh no’.
But something beyond that was saying ‘yes’. I was in the railway station, it was in Hubli somewhere. There were two trains going, one south-bound and the other to the north. If I take the train to the south, that means I will not start this movement. I had tickets for both. I was confused. Should I get on this train or that train? Then I jumped into the train which went to the north and let go of everything of the past; for no apparent gain. It’s not that I never thought about what I stood to gain from this. In fact I thought, you are not going to get anything from this except for more problems and trouble. There you could just be like a prince, very comfortable and with somebody does everything for you.
Why I’m saying this? This is the level of knowledge, the intuitive knowledge which is beyond intellect. Everyone who knew me in those days thought I had gone mad, crazy. Here I’m going to be put as a successor or heir to a huge organization, empire. Everything was there, and I am just washing it all off and getting on to something which has no form, no idea. Not even an organisation was there, nothing was there. Only I had 200 kids to take care of and a school which would go with me.
I had no money; nothing, no resource, I had never worked and I had no skills. And people say these days it is difficult to take care of two children in a house. Those days India was undergoing a lot of crisis too. Many types of crisis and here I land up with 200 kids or 250 kids to feed and to educate… Intellectually it was completely insane even to think about it for anyone who has some sense. But there was another knowledge, which I totally honoured and depended upon and I took the step.
When can you honour the knowledge of the spirit or the soul? It is when you are absolutely still. Got it? So in the beginning it works for others, it doesn’t work for you because with you always there are some cravings, some aversions which make you confused. So these hollow and empty meditations you do are all are very, very useful in getting to that level of knowledge, which is beyond the senses and beyond the intellect. Now how can you explain this to anybody? That’s big trouble, very difficult to tell somebody, ‘oh there is one level that’s beyond your logic.’ If you say that, they will think you are crazy or denying intellect but it’s neither. Neither are you crazy nor do you deny the intellect. You go simply one step beyond and recognize something beautiful. This is the area where the entire cosmos works. All the knowledge in the cosmos is present there. Every invention has happened from this area.
The initial intuitive invention comes from that. Then intellect plays on it and develops it further. Every one of those great music or poetry has come from that area; every one of them! So one practical benefit from this is you now understand your intellect is judgmental and you don’t depend on it too much. Got it? One of the steps is you see, ‘oh yes my mind, it goes on saying something or the other and I don’t care, I don’t mind that.’ You don’t get swept into these mind games. You become a witness to them all. Have you noticed it’s already happening with you?
At home when there is some argument, or among the friends there is some argument, something happens. Sometimes you take one step back and say, ‘oh come on, I have seen many of this. It’s not going to let this affect me.’ How many of you have started noticing this happening to you? There is a gradual progression for that. It’s happening in everyone’s life. Just this awareness, it will happen even faster. It will happen faster, just awareness about it. Good!
(Excerpts from a Satsang by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on 13 October 2011)
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