Ideas for Engaging in the Study of the Guru Gita: Know That By Which All Else Is Known

Verse 31:

Yasyaa matam tasya matam, matam yasya na veda saha; 
Ananya bhaava bhaavaaya, tasmai shri gurave namaha.


One whose mind is filled with thought, knows not; 
one whose mind is silent, knows everything. 
I bow to the Guru, who is one with the Absolute.


The translation of this verse of Sri Guru Gita has been a stumbling point for many people trying to understand this profound text. There are other translations of the Guru Gita that have rendered this along the lines… ‘if you know, you don’t know. If you don’t know, you know’,

…leaving many of us scratching our heads in confusion. What is it I’m supposed to know, or not know. And if I know something, am I in trouble because then it means I don’t know anything?!”

The Hard Light version of the Guru Gita is based on Mark Griffin’s clear teaching about the result of stopping the mind, and cuts instantly to the essence of this verse:

Silence the mind – and all is known.

Again and again, Mark teaches that the full awareness of reality dawns only when thought is silenced, and then he goes on to show us exactly how to do that, through the detailed Pratyahara meditation techniques.

The desire to know more and more is natural to the human spirit, but without spiritual training, we get caught up in the approach we are taught since infancy and throughout school: We try to fulfill the natural desire to know more by acquiring information, by acquiring more degrees or more skills. We try to Twitter our way to fulfillment.

This verse comes full circle, and reminds us that knowing Reality means knowing everything – while it points us in the right direction of how to do that. The expression “Know That By Which All Else Is Known” is repeated throughout many of the Upanishads and captures this idea precisely.

mirrorsIn one of the weekly meeting talks, Mark said:

“The mind just reflects what it comes into contact with. It is like holding up a mirror to a mirror, because it’s just the mind reflecting the mind. I oftentimes refer to this mental obscuration as “The Hall of Mirrors”.

Even if you look directly at reality from the standpoint of the mind, all you ever see is the reflection of reality in the mind. Why? Because of the presence of the mind. If the mind is present, you’re looking at a reflection. This is why you can never think your way into Reality – even if you are a really good thinker.

This is the true razor’s edge of spiritual life and awakening. It is called the manonash – the annihilation of mind. If you’re even an atom’s length from reality, then you are apprehending reality from the standpoint of the mind – it’s not reality. It’s a reflection of reality. When the mind collapses, reality appears. This can be generated yogically.”

So… if we can’t use the mind to apprehend everything, how do we then go about fulfilling our desire to do so? The second line of the Guru Gita verse shows us…

I bow to the Guru, who is one with the Absolute.

What is the Absolute? It is the Infinite Ocean of Consciousness and the source of the entire manifest creation, which is relative and ever-changing.

The verse’s last phrase carries two meanings:

• Here’s a role model for you – do it like the Guru did it.  Don’t get stuck in the realms of relative knowledge alone. Become one with the Absolute. Go to the source of all knowledge. Know That By Which All Else Is Known.

And it also says:

• Want a guide on your journey? Turn to the Guru. The yogic maneuver of bringing about the manonash, the collapse of the mind, needs a highly skilled and accomplished teacher – one who has personally had this experience and understands its nuances and dynamics.

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