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The process of knowing

Listening, reflecting & contemplating

Up to this point, I understand that as revealed by the Upanishads, the everlasting fulfillment I have been seeking through my various pursuits is in reality an already accomplished fact. Hence, I just need to know myself as I am, here and now. Then the question may arise, how do I employ the means of knowledge that is Vedanta, to know the truth of myself? 

From the standpoint of the student, the process of knowing is described to be three fold: listening to the texts of Vedanta (sravanam), reflecting to clear ones doubts (mananam) and contemplating on the knowledge (nididhyasanam) 44. This division does not mean that it is a chronological sequence to be followed where one has first to listen to all Upanishads, afterwards reflect upon them and finally go to the Himalayas and contemplate. It has to be understood more as a functional division meant to separate the role of each of them in gaining knowledge. 

Listening to the words of the Upanishads (Sravanam)
Sravanam is the discovery of the whole vision of Vedanta, by listening to the teacher who unfolds the texts of Upanishads for me. The inquiry into the meaning of the texts is conducted by the teacher with the use of different methods of teaching. The approach while looking into the Upanishads is to determine what is intended to be conveyed by the words (tatparya niscaya). It is possible that several people look into the same text and come up with different interpretation of what is being said. For example, doubts can arise with reference to what exact place does Vedanta give to action and knowledge? Does Vedanta essentially talk about non-difference between an individual and the total, or the individual being part of the total?. 

Here, if Vedanta is a means of knowledge, one has to first ascertain what exactly is being conveyed. If one looks objectively into the texts, during sravanam, one discovers that the main and common purport of all Upanishads is only to reveal that I am Brahman, the one non-dual reality that exists. This reality, being the truth of everything namely the individual, Isvara and Universe, is limitless 45.

It is important to note that the role of sravanam is essential and primary in acquiring this knowledge. If we say that Vedanta is a means of knowledge, it means that sravanam becomes the main discipline for me. This exposition to the teaching itself can give rise to knowledge that is liberating . There is nothing else to be done after knowledge 46. It is not an intellectual knowledge meant to be put in practice by meditation 47.

Removing doubts by the use of reasoning (Mananam)
After listening to the Upanishads, I may understand very clearly what Vedanta says. However, the understanding is not complete until what Vedanta reveals becomes my own vision. 

The following examples enumerate that on one hand, I may be clear about the position of Vedanta, but on the other hand, what it says is not totally understood and assimilated by me: 

I don't have any doubt that Vedanta says I am limitless. But, I still question how is it possible that I am limitless? 
I understand, that Vedanta talks about equation between I and Isvara, the cause of the universe. But, how can I be the cause of the universe? 
I know that Vedanta reveals that freedom (moksa) is gained only through knowledge, but I consider some statement of a saint who says that liberation is attained through devotion to Isvara to be equally true. 
I recognize that Vedanta talks about the self to be limitless, but I am unable to refute the contention of some philosopher who claims that the reality is nothing but emptiness or a void. 

If I cannot refute different contentions or reconcile different positions, then my knowledge is still shaky and vague. 

Therefore reasoning to remove all these different kinds of doubts is employed by the teacher extensively 48.

During the teaching, many doubts discussed by the teacher are raised either by the Upanishad or the commentator of the Upanishad. New doubts belonging to a contemporary thinking of scientists, philosophers which did not exist in past are brought by the teacher and answered. 

Views of school of thoughts, thinkers, philosophy, science, etc. outside the sphere of Vedanta tradition are examined and refuted on pure logical ground. If they are within the sphere of Vedanta and diverge upon an interpretation of a concept or a specific sentence, it is addressed by critical investigation and interpretation of the texts themselves, showing how other interpretations contradict the main vision of Vedanta.




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