Amma on Scriptures

(8 May '04)

“Along with sadhana (spiritual practices), study of the scriptures is also necessary. It will give you more clarity and understanding. It will also help you to discriminate properly when an obstacle arises.”

“What we call scriptures are meant to help us travel without getting lost. We can reach a place in one hour instead of wandering around for 10 hours.”

“Didn’t Shankaracharya and other great souls study the scriptures? Knowledge of the scriptures is a must. Study is a sadhana. It should not be to inflate your ego, but to get rid of it. The scriptural statements and dictums will act as weapons to fight against mental conflicts and weaknesses that might arise during the course of sadhana. While studying the scriptures, one should feel, ‘I am studying divine mantras.’ ”

How to Approach the Scriptures

“Children, only the attitude ‘I am nothing, I know nothing’ will help you reach the final state. That alone will help the Guru’s grace flow towards you. Approach the scriptures with that attitude, and you will really learn the scriptures. And even after studying the scriptures, try to maintain the attitude ‘I have not studied anything; I know nothing.’ This will take you to the goal. Try to remain like a child throughout your life and you will really learn. Study the scriptures with this attitude.”

“Learning is a form of Devi Saraswati. You should approach learning with shraddha (focus and loving faith) and devotion. Whenever you pick up or put down a book, you should touch it with reverence and bow to it. Keep the books neat and clean.”

To Know the Truth, You Must Drop the Ego

“A person who has studied the scriptures will have the ability to control himself when dangerous thoughts come into his or her mind by reflecting on what he or she has learned from the scriptures. However, it is usually seen that the study of scriptures without a Guru and without doing sadhana will only help to inflate the ego.”

“One must really know that one is egocentric. A person should realise the ego is a burden; he or she should be aware of his or her ignorance. He should know that book knowledge is not real knowledge and that such learning only adds to the strength of the ego, unless one is subtle enough to go beyond the words and see the real truth.”

“Study of the scriptures does not necessarily create more ego in you. It is wrong understanding of the scriptures that creates a big ego in a person. Scriptural study is not the mere gathering of information about Atman, the Self. You cannot collect information about something beyond words and beyond the mind, about something incomprehensible. You can gather information about people, objects, places in the world and how to do things like computer programming, which are products of human intellect. But you cannot gather information about Consciousness. You can understand Pure Consciousness only if you drop your intellect and reasoning. Study of the scriptures is to help you drop the ego and go beyond all explanations and interpretations. It is to prove the insufficiency of words, to explain that state fully. Study of the scriptures is to give you only an idea about spirituality. It explains the benefits of spiritual life. They are just explanations and conclusions. But remember, all scriptural statements and declarations have been made by those who have gone beyond the ego. To know the truth of the scriptural declarations one must drop one’s ego.”

Scriptures Only Point the Way; You Have to Do Sadhana to Get the Benefit

“However much Vedanta we study, without doing sadhana, we cannot experience Reality. That which we seek is within us, but to reach it, we have to do sadhana. To turn the seed into a tree, we have to plant it in the soil, water it, and fertilise it. It’s not enough to just hold it in our hands.”

“The scriptures only point the way. If you just sit and read the scriptures, you will not reach your goal. When you wanted to come here, you found the appropriate bus and got on it. That is how you were able to reach here. Similarly, only by actually doing the sadhana described in the texts will you achieve any spiritual experience. By eating the picture of a banana, you won’t get the taste or the nourishment of the fruit. Scriptural study is necessary, but, at the same time, you have to do sadhana to get the benefit.”

“Information and knowledge block the mind from experiencing Truth. The mind and thought waves interfere with true experiencing. Suppose you want to experience the beauty of a flower. To truly experience you need to stop interfering with mental interpretations. Just look at the flower and you will experience its beauty. In the same way, the real meaning of the scriptures can only be known in silence of the mind, then you will really learn them and experience their fullness. To stop the mind from judging is real understanding. Study the scriptures, but do not think they are all there is. Do not think that there is nothing beyond just studying the scriptures. Studying the scriptures must be accompanied by spiritual practices. Truth cannot be explained or interpreted. Truth can only be experienced. There is no harm in studying the scriptures with this attitude. Study the scriptures; yet remain as ignorant as a child. Then you will grow internally.”

“Scriptures are like pointers only; they are not an end in themselves. Do we taste sweetness if we write ‘honey’ on a piece of paper and lick it? We should get that experience.”

“Scriptures were written by the sages from their own experience. We should make the scriptural truths our own.”

“Spirituality is stillness of mind, a state of silence. It is also renunciation or an egoless state. Stillness is something to be experienced…. You can write volumes about spirituality. You can compose beautiful poetry about it and sing about it in melodious songs. You can also speak about spirituality for hours in very beautiful and flowery language. But still spirituality will remain unknown to you unless you really experience its beauty and bliss from within.”

Don’t Cling to the Scriptures

“We spit out the residue after we enjoy the juice of the sugarcane. In the same way, we should take the essence of the scriptures and discard the rest. But it would be foolish to cling to the scriptures until the day we die.”

“You should learn the scriptures up to a point, but then do tapas (austerities). Only that will bring your learning to the plane of experience, bring peace to you, and enable you to do something good for the world.”

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Category : Sadhana
hariom