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Self–Knowledge

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The accomplishment resulting from a life of karma-yoga is characterised as a preparedness for abiding knowledge of the nature of the self. When daily activities are done with an attitude that converts every action into yoga, a means for self-purification, the mind undergoes a change. This changed condition of the mind is what is called preparedness, the eligibility for abiding knowledge, or for a commitment to knowledge of the self, jñāna-niṣṭhā-yogyatā.

Any ultimate aim in a given pursuit is called niṣṭhā, so a niṣṭhā in knowledge of ātmā means a knowledge of the self, which has gone as far as it can go; it does not leave anything to be desired. A knowledge of the self, which is free from vagueness, free from error or doubt, is what is called a jñāna-niṣṭhā.

This particular compound, jñāna-niṣṭhā, has been confusing for many who have misunderstood this word and other statements that you must first gain knowledge of the self, and then, afterwards, gain experience of it. They create a division between knowledge and experience. But experience in this instance is not wanting, for experience is the nature of yourself. All experiences are strung together in the experience of yourself. You are a conscious person, and that consciousness that obtains in you as yourself is called ‘experience,’ anubhūti or anubhava, which is always present as the self-evident ‘I’ in all forms of experience.

Therefore, it is not to be experienced; it is to be understood. There is no question of first gaining knowledge and then later converting it into experience, because knowledge is final.

Lack of experience of myself is not the problem here. I can only lack experience of what I do not have, and ‘I am’ is experienced all the time. What I lack is only recognition of what the self is. If that self is mistaken for anything other than what it is, then the resolution of the mistake means correcting the error about myself. It is knowledge.

‘Bhagavad Gita Home Study Course’ Ch.18 v48, Swami Dayananda © Copyright Arsha Vidya 2017

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