Ancient vs Modern wisdom [ January 2004 ]


Yvonne
Hello again, guys. I have another question to ask, if you don't mind.I realize that some people on this list may have different perspectives, but I'd like to hear them all. With which of the following statements would you agree:
1. All the wisdom of the universe is contained in the writings of theancients, so there is no need to read recent writings in search ofnew wisdom, nor any need to seek new revelations ourselves directly from the Divine.

2. Revelation of Divine wisdom is an on-going process that neverends. Therefore we need to seek wisdom not only in the writings ofthe Ancients but also in more recent writings and also in our own experiences.

There is of course a corolary: if you agree with number 2, how and where should we seek wisdom in the present day? Thanx.

Devi Bhakta
Hi Yvonne:
A few quick thoughts in response to your recent question. As always,I hope other members will correct or add to my response they see fit. The more perspectives, the better.

*** I have another question to ask, if you don't mind. ***

We don't mind, of course. That's what the group is here for.

*** would you agree: All the wisdom of the universe is contained in the writings of the ancients, so there is no need to read recent writings in search of new wisdom, nor any need to seek new revelations ourselves directly from the Divine. ***

No. The scriptures are invaluable in providing us a record of past discoveries; a direct link with some of the greatest sages of history; a direct line to divinity, if you will. Or more mundanely, they offer a "roadmap" detailing landmarks, worthwhile stopovers, and danger zones to be avoided along the route that we are now traveling.

But I think it is fair to say that any form of Hinduism is about following that path yourself. It's a relatively straightforward task to study spiritual masterworks, to read the journeys of great souls, to become familiar with their works and drop their names and sayings left and right. But it's all just social chit-chat unless you're actually using their work to advance your own work. (As Hemingway once observed, it's one thing to read about someone getting punched in the face; it's quite another thing to actually get punched in the face. A crude example, I know; but an effective way to understand thedifference between knowledge and experience.)

In Shaktism, a scripture is approached almost like a scientific discovery. When a scientist publishes her or his results, other scientists don't just read it and say "Oh cool, so that's that!" They test it. They try and reproduce the results for themselves, to validate and add to (or to disprove) the findings by their own experiences.

Scripture provides inspiration, answers and directions. But they are no substitute for experience. That's what Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswati means in his front-page quote in this group: "Try to see for yourself. Don't blindly accept what others say."

*** would you agree: Revelation of Divine wisdom is an on-going process that never ends. Therefore we need to seek wisdom not only in the writings of the Ancients but also in more recent writings and also in our own experiences. ***

Absolutely, for all of the reasons given above.

*** how and where should we seek wisdom in the present day? ***

Every religious tradition will differ in its details, of course. In Shaktism, I'd say the steps set out in Tripura Rahasya (which has been on my brain lately, what with all the discussion going on in the group) are as good a list as any:

1. Expose yourself the great scriptures and poetry of Shaktism (Devi Mahatmyam, Devi Gita, Sri Devi Bhagavatam Purana, Lalitopakhana, Sri Lalita Sarasranama, Soundarya Lahari; yes, Tripura Rahasya; etc. etc.)

2. This helps you develop "devotion and praiseworthy earnestness" as you gradually begin to comprehend the greatness of the path, and begin to haltingly find ways to worship Shakti, live your life in accordance with Shakta values and beliefs, learn more and more about the fine points of the path, make mistakes big and small, make a fool of yourself now and then, stumble upon a great revelation here and there, but -- above all -- keep forging forward.

3. The guru appears. This happens when you are objectively ready, not necessarily when you *think* you are ready. There may be many "sub- gurus" along the way who appear at various vital points to give you (consciously or not) the direction or inspriration you need at a given moment. But finally, the "real thing" comes along, and the feeling will be unmistakable when it happens.

4. This guru will duly initiate you into her or his particular lineage, imparting specific mantras, techniques and instruction; and providing oral tradition to supplement and activate the teachings of whatever combination of tantras and scriptures her or his lineage follows.

5. What you take away from this experience is vichara -- discernment, judgment; a certain laser-like fix on what you need to do, where you need to go, and how you go about getting there. As I quoted Guruji the other day saying; the effect of initiation is like switching on the power, shifting your sadhana into overdrive. What you do with that power, where you go with that enhanced speed -- that's up to you now. You can still fail. But if you constantly review scripture, constantly refine your technique, follow the guru's instructions, and keep Devi -- rather than yourself -- at the center of your devotion, you may find it difficult to fail.

Hope that helps.

Aum Maatangyai Namahe

Yvonne
Dear Devi Bhakta

Thanx for the very nice answer. This is about what I figured, but it is good to have a detailed explanation.

The way my Auntie Usha teaches it, it is illogical to come to the conclusion that wisdom can be found only in the writings of the ancients. If you believe that the Goddess is alive today and living in the hearts of living people, it follows quite logically that the Goddess will reveal herself in the thoughts, feelings, and wisdom of living people. Thus the ancients had their Goddess energy and their wisdom, and it is important to learn what they had to say, but equally important to listen to what is in your own heart and in the hearts of those around you.

This, incidentally, is one reason I was drawn to abandon my mother's brand of Christianity and embrace my aunt's faith instead. My mother says all the wisdom you need to know is in the Bible, and anything that contradicts the Bible is evil. I'm so glad I don't believe that myself any more.


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