How to be sure about the real knowledge?

You’ve already received some signs that you’ve managed to establish a connection with the Sun-God, but unless you hear his voice and instructions directly, you may have a lot of doubts about what certain signs mean. Hence the question: how can you be sure that you are understanding true spiritual knowledge?

This is the most basic question when moving from the material field to the spiritual (or otherwise known as the philosophical field). Science, for example, uses the scientific method to define what is true. The scientific method is based, in turn, on the perception of our 5 senses (sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell), which are limited. Our eyes cannot observe the full spectrum of sunlight, for example. See in the image below how sunlight is composed.

In this way, modern thinkers realized that there are subjects that can be studied by science and others that cannot because, due to the nature of phenomena, it is not possible to create tests that can be reproduced in different laboratories. Subjects that are not the object of study of science were then classified as metaphysical.

While science has mathematics as its basis to reach the truth, metaphysics, on the other hand, has language as a way to approach the truth. Deep down, both mathematics and language have the same function: to avoid arguments that have no logic. Whereas science is fact-based, metaphysics is faith-based, in the sense that you accept a certain core concept. Philosophy and language serve, in this sense, to identify inconsistencies related to the central concept of belief that a given individual or group of individuals has.

In the country where I was born, there is a popular saying that says: “no discussion about politics, football and religion”. What this means? That you have the right to choose which political party you should vote for, or which football team you will support and even which religion you will follow but you cannot question the decision of the other because this is a personal matter. You make your choices based on your perceptions, environment and personal values. And you have this right. This is called free will.

But, is there a religion that is closer to the truth than others? Is there a football team that is better than the others? Is there a political party that is ideal for today’s society? How to know? This is the question I would like to answer in this post.

I, particularly, chose a religion brought from India by Prabhupada Swami called by him as Vaishnavism and popularly known as Hare Krishna movement. Vaishnavism means that in this religion we worship Vishnu, also known as Krishna: “Of the Ādityas I am Viṣṇu, of lights I am the radiant sun, of the Maruts I am Marīci, and among the stars I am the moon.” (Bhagavad-gita 10.21). In this verse Krishna identifies Himself as Vishnu among the twelve Ādityas. In a next post I will go into more detail about what Ādityas are and their relationship with the Sun Salutation.

Why did I choose this religion? During my early years I grew up Catholic through the influence of my family. Afterwards, my parents began to dedicate themselves to another religion known as Gnosis, which has Samael Aun Weor as its master. In this religion the core beliefs are based on Indian and Egyptian teachings but a summary of virtually all world religions is also presented. What turned me off about this religion is that it is said that women need to be born again as a man to complete self-realization. According to my logic, this made no sense.

Years later I came back to the Catholic religion because I have a strong connection with Jesus. But, because I believe in reincarnation I decided this was not my path. My belief in reincarnation is due to an experience with Ayahuasca and also due to memories of other lives that seemed quite feasible to me.

I met Krishna’s devotees when I was about 19 years old and I went to a temple around the same time but in this first contact I didn’t have a good impression. A devotee was sad because she was treated as inferior as she was a woman. I stayed away for years and at the age of 26 I returned to a temple and met my spiritual master. I felt there was a connection with him but overall I still don’t feel like I agree 100% with the religion itself but all in all it’s where I feel most integrated and understood.

How is truth identified in Vaishnavism? This is a very complex subject, but in a simplified way, there is a method that is known as “Sadhu-Shastra-Guru”. Sadhu means holy person, a person who has realized spiritual knowledge in him(her)self and is able to help others to understand spiritual truth as well. How to recognize a Sadhu? According to Goura Govinda Maharaj it is not possible to recognize a Sadhu if you are not a Sadhu yourself. What you can do, according to him, is to ask God with faith to help you get in touch with some Sadhu.

Sadhus can be recognized through what is called a miracle. I believe I once met a Sadhu. I had been trying for many years to become completely vegetarian – without relapses. But only after meeting this devotee and receiving instruction from her, did I manage to effectively stop relapses. The problem was solved in the following way: she taught me how to prepare a balanced vegetarian diet: you should always include at least one type of grain in your meals, except on fasting days.

Grains and nuts are the elements that effectively replace meat, fish and eggs. I had already served in the temple kitchen, and I had tried Hare Krishna cuisine for several years but I had never understood this basic concept. Or, as I prefer to believe, I received the blessing of understanding from that day on. Furthermore, based on other instructions received from her, I was able to dedicate myself more intensively to the study of Prabhupada’s spiritual knowledge through the translation of lectures given by him and recorded on video (available on the Vanipedia.org website). I also received the blessing of spending three months at the Radhadesh temple, in Belgium, with half the cost of the air ticket sponsored by Vanipedia. From this experience I got to know the person who became my husband one year later and father of my daughter. Since I met that devotee, 7 years ago, I haven’t had any relapses about eating meat. For me these were the miracles I received through association with a Sadhu.

The second way to be sure of knowledge is through the Shastras. Shastra means holy scripture. Originally this word refers to the Indian scriptures but the scriptures of other religions are also valid. Some consider Indian scriptures more reliable than others because in India, for millennia, the priestly class was protected by kings. In addition, knowledge was passed from father to son, which ensured a certain uniformity in the passing on of knowledge.

Under this system, knowledge of the scriptures must be passed on as it was received, without alteration or interpretation. On the other hand, each spiritual master or devotee is at liberty to explain the meaning of the verse according to time, place and circumstance. However, this meaning must also be aligned with certain fundamental concepts. This rigidity in imparting scriptural knowledge generates a strong confidence that we have a guide that can be used at any time for all situations that life presents. It is common for devotees to report that each time they reread the scriptures they receive a new understanding of a certain subject.

I believe in the power of the scriptures to impart spiritual knowledge because I myself, at a certain period in my life, felt inspired to write without having previously had any interest in becoming a writer. Analyzing the whole context, I concluded that I received the inspiration to write from a higher source because I learned from what I wrote and after a while, as unexpected as it came, the inspiration was also gone. It was as if I was just transcribing the texts and poems that should be written by someone at that moment and that by a stroke of fate I managed to tune in to that frequency and hear in my mind the messages that should be materialized on Earth. I also noticed that the knowledge needed to somehow fit into the language system I was using, but in a given text I felt the need to create a new word to express the meaning that the text should have.

With this experience, I came to see the scriptures as something sacred but also as something that also has the influence of a human mind, which is inserted in a certain historical, linguistic, cultural and intellectual context. When reading the scriptures I take this observation into account. What this means? An example: spiritual philosophy for many years was taught only to men. In this way, the scriptures often refer to how a man should behave towards women. The role of women in that society was limited to worshiping deities, caring for children and organizing the home. The spiritual instructions they received from their husbands were limited to the usefulness they would have in relation to those activities. Philosophy was not taught in depth to women, so philosophical debates between men and women in Indian culture are rare. I’ll quote one that inspires me a lot.

During the middle ages in India it is believed that God was incarnated again on Earth in the form of a devotee of Krishna. His name was Caitanya Mahaprabhu. One of Caitanya’s disciples, known as Rupa Goswami, once received an unexpected visitor: Mirabai, an Indian princess belonging to the Rajputana royal family.

She was interested in talking about spiritual matters, but Rupa Goswami refused to receive her because she was a woman. She then asked to be told that only Krishna was male. All other spirit souls are female. It is not known for sure whether after she said this she was received by Rupa Goswami. What is known is that not all women were excluded from spiritual discussions. There are reports, for example, of conversations between Jiva Goswami and Jahnavi-devi, the wife of Nityananda Prabhu – the foremost disciple of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Jahnavi-devi even became a prominent spiritual master after her husband passed away.

Mirabai became known in her time as a great mystic and devotee of Krishna. She wrote poetry and also sang the glories of Krishna at the places of pilgrimage. The concept that all spirit souls are female and only God is male is confirmed by the scriptures in the Purusha and Prakriti concepts. Purusha, literally translated means man, but in the scriptures this term is used to define God as the supreme controller. Prakriti literally translated means material energy, which is considered in Indian scriptures as feminine. This concept is very advanced in esoteric terms and means that each spirit soul has God as a “soul mate” in essence. This does not mean that literally everyone in the spiritual world is female. Each spirit soul has a natural inclination towards a certain gender and this characteristic is preserved in the spirit form as well.

The third way to get close to the truth is through “Guru” – the spiritual master. In Indian tradition, a spiritual master can be celibate or married, male or female. But nowadays most of the spiritual masters of the Vaishnava line are celibate men. To become a spiritual master one must have read all the scriptures published by Prabhupada Swami and must also be able to memorize a certain number of verses (if not all) of the main scriptures. Having a spiritual master means that you have a trusted person to share your doubts about spiritual concepts. He is a person who has training to listen, understand and offer the necessary spiritual support applied to the personal characteristics he observes in the disciple. Personal relationships in Vaishnava philosophy is one of the most fundamental concepts for spiritual evolution. There are other philosophical lines in India which believe that the ultimate goal of spiritual evolution is merging with God’s energy, for this reason this line of thought is known as impersonalism. For the impersonalists, after merging with the energy of God, the person can consider himself to be God. Conversely, for the personalists, the ultimate goal is to eternally serve God, with our own original personality, without, however, thinking that we are an incarnation of God.

The spiritual master also has the function of adapting spiritual knowledge to the culture in which it is inserted in a methodical way and based on the instructions of the predecessor masters. It is believed that there is an original spiritual connection between the spiritual master and the disciple as if they belong to the same spiritual family. Your spiritual master can have a physical body or just a spiritual body. Instructions can be heard or read. The result is the same. The spiritual master can even be from another religion, as in the case of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who accepted an impersonalistic spiritual master in order to be initiated as a celibate (sannyasi). Being holy is not a prerequisite for being a spiritual master, however, having a holy spiritual master is the perfect combination for having sure and steady spiritual progress.

How to know if a historical or current person is an incarnation of God? It is said that God descends to Earth from time to time to re-establish the original religion when a link is broken. Several personalities have already passed through the Earth leaving messages that sometimes even seem opposite – as in the case of worshiping a deity, for example, which is condemned in the Bible but encouraged in the Indian scriptures. So what or who to believe? What I do is try to see the similarities between each religion to determine what is an original truth and what is the result of the culture, language or intelligence of an epoch. I learn from all sources and practice what makes sense to me. But the most constant message in all religions is that we must improve our character, take care of each other, find a way to be happy and glorify God, our creator. Vaishnavas glorify God by chanting a mantra, known as the Maha-mantra (the great prayer) – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

However, you can use any other name of God from any religion, but please chant the names of God to purify your heart. It is not necessary to worship a deity, you can worship the sun or you can worship God within your heart. These are just small details. Let’s try to understand what unites us and not what separates us.

Image by creativeart on Freepik

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