Paramahansa Yogananda
on Wisdom

WISDOM

flower

The devotee bent on liberation understands that all learning pertaining to the phenomenal worlds is partial, uncertain, relative, and unsatisfying. Realization of God is the only true, permanent, and absolute knowledge. (bg)

SRF AUM

"He only is wise who devotes himself to realizing,
not reading only, the ancient revelations
.

Solve your problems through meditation.

Exchange unprofitable speculation for
actual God-communion."

— Lahiri Mahasaya

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The greatest sin is ignorance — not to know what life is all about. And the greatest virtue is wisdom — to know the meaning and purpose of life and its Creator. To know that we are not little human beings, but that we are one with Him, is wisdom. (jt)

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The wisdom-manifesting yogi fills his mind with scriptural studies and spiritual meditative perceptions that contribute to soul-realization. When he attains perfect inner enlightenment, he intuitively perceives the meanings in all forms of knowledge, and realizes the whole truth of divine wisdom as manifested within his Self. (bg)

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Verily, nothing else in this world is as sanctifying as wisdom. In due course of time, the devotee who is successful in yoga will spontaneously realize this within his Self.
—The Bhagavad Gita IV:38

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Thoughts are universally and not individually rooted; a truth cannot be created, but only perceived. Any erroneous thought of man is a result of an imperfection, large or small, in his discernment. The goal of yoga science is to calm the mind, that without distortion it may hear the infallible counsel of the Inner Voice. (aoy)

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It is not necessary to go through every kind of human experience in order to attain this ultimate wisdom. You should be able to learn by studying the lives of others. Why become helplessly involved in an endless panorama of events in order to discover that nothing in this world can ever make you happy? (me)

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Consciousness

The ocean cannot be received in a cup unless the cup is made as large as the ocean. Likewise, the cup of human concentration and human faculties must be enlarged in order to comprehend God. Receiving denotes capacity acquired by self-development; it is different from mere belief. (jt)

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Theoretical knowledge cannot give you realization about God. So don’t waste your time on too much theory. Those who do so becomes lost in the jungle of reason and never get beyond mere theories. In the process of reasoning and reasoning they never perceive truth, for truth is beyond reason. Most intellectualists thus become bound by their own conclusions. (jt)

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It is not a pumping-in from the outside that gives wisdom; it is the power and extent of your inner receptivity that determines how much you can attain of true knowledge, and how rapidly. The man who has the power of receptivity quickly grasps everything. People with no receptivity may be exposed to the same experiences or information, yet not really see nor fully comprehend what is there. An intelligent man lives far ahead of the idiot. Your experiences bring wisdom according to the measure of the cup of your receptivity. (sm)

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Whenever you want to know something, don't start with data— retire within and concentrate. Seek guidance from within. When the mind is receptive, then bring the data; start working out the business or mental solution. Do not be filled with discouragement and say it cannot be done.

Every human being is a representative of the Infinite Power. You should manifest that Power in everything you do. Whenever you want to produce something, do not depend only upon the outside source; go deep within and seek the Infinite Source. All methods of business success, all inventions, all vibrations of music, all inspirational thoughts and writings, are recorded in the annals of God. (sm)

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The scientific man or the businessman or anyone seeking success would accomplish more if he concentrated upon increasing the receptive quality of his brain cells, instead of depending just on books and college work for his progress. The world starts with books and outside methods, but you should start by increasing the receptivity of your intuition. In you lies the infinite seat of all knowledge.

Calmness,
concentration, and
condensation of experiences by intuitional perception
will make you master of all knowledge.

Do everything with full attention,
never in a haphazard way.

Do not try to do too many things at a time;
perform the most important duties of life first,
with heartfelt enthusiasm and closest attention.

Do not indiscriminately swallow useless ideas. Why should you walk in dead men's shoes? Don't let yourself act like an intellectual Victrola*, content to parrot the untested opinions of others. (sm)

* Victrola = early record player

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The greatest thing you can do to cultivate true wisdom is to practice the consciousness of the world as a dream. If failure comes, say, "It is a dream." Be unruffled in everything you do. If you try hard to cultivate the dream-opposite to whatever trials you may be experiencing, you will be able to change a nightmarish experience into a beautiful experience. (os)

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Learn how to play the various parts of your life-movie without identifying your role with your Self. It is important to remember, whenever pain or anger or any kind of mental or physical suffering comes, to look upon them as would a spectator. Dissociate yourself from your experiences. Looking upon them as though they were happening to another person is the best way. (os)

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Everybody wants you just to give God-realization to them. Nobody wants to have to work for it. But it's not so simple!

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As often as we have come on earth we have developed new imperfections and new desires. So we come back here again and again until we fulfill all desires; or until, through increase of wisdom, we banish those desires. We must satisfy our desires, or, by cultivating wisdom, do away with them altogether. (me)

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The truth is embodied in the wisdom of the great ones that reveals to us the world as it really is. Had it not been for the training I received in this wisdom, I would not have liked to remain in this world. (jt)

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Knowledge is light; it illuminates and reveals the nature of reality. (bg)

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Of all qualities the purest is wisdom. Its unpollutable flame of light is the only effective adversary of darkness, ignorance. In due course of time, when the yogi reaches the ultimate success of freeing his consciousness from the gross perception of the body and the cosmic elements, he realizes, within himself—in the Self or soul—his lost-and-found wisdom as the sole liberator. (bg)

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He is the wisest who seeks God. He is the most successful who has found God.

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It is not a pumping-in from outside that gives wisdom; it is the power and extent of your inner receptivity that determines how much you can attain of true knowledge, and how rapidly.

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Wisdom is a chisel, love is the sandpaper. (dr)

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Forget the past, for it is gone from your domain! Forget the future, for it is beyond your reach! Control the present! Live supremely well now! It will whitewash the dark past, and compel the future to be bright! This is the way of the wise. (bg)

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You waste precious time each day. Every little moment you spend with God will be spent to your best advantage; and whatever you achieve with the desire to please God in your heart will stand unto eternity. (jt)

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Knowledge of the scriptures is beneficial only when it stimulates a desire for practical realization; otherwise, theoretical knowledge gives one false conviction of wisdom. (bg)

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It is on these teachings that you should concentrate, not on my personality or any other personality. And it is not a matter of merely reading these truths, but of practicing them. (jt)

Reading does not make you wise, realization does.

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Truths are not truths to you unless you realize them within yourself. Without realization, they are just ideas. For spiritual perception, spiritual consciousness, lies not in vague theological ideas, but in the acquisition of Self-realization. (dr)

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However, many people read constantly and yet cannot tell you what they have read. The best way to read a book is to introspect about it. See how it applies to your own life. And learn to discriminate.

Do not accept blindly everything that you read;
it should meet the tests of your mind.

To be worthwhile, books should cause you to think. If they do that, you will find that your mind is developing. (me)

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You must know the difference between imagination, theoretical knowledge and true realization. Could you nourish yourself by only listening to a talk on food? To know food only theoretically is to always remain hungry. You must eat to satisfy hunger. So he who seeks new doctrines continuously but does not put them into practice in his life is in continual spiritual starvation. (More...)

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References:
(aoy) — Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
(bg) — God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda
(dr) — The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda
(jt) — Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda
(me) — Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
(os) — Other Sources... Talks, Booklets
(sc) — The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
(sm) — Self-Realization Magazines