Sacred Texts are Valid Means of Knowledge – Part 9
Previous part 8 answered “just how valid are ancient sacred texts in modern society” and how they can free us permanently. However some minds are intoxicated by intellectual superiority. Thus the student objects with “I don't need the holy-sacred-ancient texts. I can discern real and unreal, truth and falsehood on my own.”
Students objection is, “‘What makes the sacred books so special, that you quote them repeatedly? I do not need others' opinions to influence my thinking. It would be intellectual laziness to accept second hand opinions, without finding out for myself the reality of the world and I.”
″ The sacred books are ‘special' because they are a valid means of knowledge in matters of understanding the absolute Truth.
To them we turn because they proclaim the timeless vision.
And what vision is that? That the Truth of I and the Limitless One (Īśvara) is the same.
But more importantly this vision is not available for scientific knowledge, nor to sensory cognition. Meaning we can't hear it, see it or touch it.
Thus the sacred texts are not science manuals, but communicators of the formless Truth. Just how science is communicator of matter forms.
To know anything, we require a valid means of knowing.
I need a means that reveals or makes me know something that is useful. And once known, this knowledge should be non-contradicting, non-countermanded and non-negatable by other means of knowledge.
Each of these three conditions has to be met before we can give it the status of a valid means of knowledge (pramāṇa).
For example, our five senses (hearing, touching, seeing, smelling, tasting) is our direct means of perception. They gather information of objects, people, emotions, events and situations.
This gathered information is stored in our memory.
Our mind taps this memory source and expands it's scope using other means of knowledge. Like inference, comparison and knowledge of absence. (Can see all 6 means here.)
Additionally we have words as means of knowledge. From people and books. They too add to our store of knowledge.
Although it is finally the mind that absorbs the knowledge gathered.
In the realm of direct perception, we doubtlessly believe what the senses present.
Like five members of a band, each sense organ plays within it's own sphere without interference. And all five create the music of knowledge.
What our eyes tell us, our ears cannot replicate. Nor what our nose brings us, can our skin duplicate.
Our five sense organs conform to the definition of a valid means of knowledge.
Our experience shows the more means of knowledge we use, the better is our understanding.
You can choose to operate a particular means of knowledge, but once the choice is made, the means take over.
Suppose there there is an object nearby. Assuming eyesight is healthy and mind is alert — you have no choice, no option but to see the object.
In other words, the means of knowledge (through the eye), takes over. Object of knowledge will be seen choicelessly if eyes are looking at it.
Other sense organs are no different. Once you choose to use them, you will and have to experience what they reveal.
For instance, walking by an open door bakery, can you deny the smell?
It is no different with knowledge. The mind-organ must be well-prepared, disciplined, ready to absorb and understand the subject matter of your choice.
Once you have chosen to know, your wish has no role or control over the means of knowledge.
In same way, when we listen to the master's words, knowledge will take place. Assuming one's mind is well-prepared, disciplined and clear.
Our books and sacred texts are the same. When they reveal something within our scope of understanding, we have no choice but to comprehend the content, the truth of the words.
Just like the objects picked up by the sense organs — mind too is an object “picked up” by the conscious knowing subject, the knower, I.
An object cannot know the subject. Just like an object of senses cannot know the sensors.
For example, can a flavor know the olfactory nerve? Can a pretty picture see the eye? And can either know the conscious director (the knower aspect of the mind)?
Effects cannot reverse the flow of knowledge. Mind and sense organs are effects. Meaning they cannot know the knower, the subject, I.
How will we know who or what the knower is?
We can never know on our own. We need the words of our sacred books to reveal the truth of I, which is not different from the Limitless One (Īśvara), and the cause of creation.
Our mind, senses or science cannot countermand the vision of our scriptures. Because what the words reveal throughout the scriptures, does not lie within the scope of our mind and senses.
Reason is, our mind and senses are merely effects dependent on the subject, the knower, I.
Continue reading part 10 of this teacher-student conversation…