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9Yoga Sutras 1.7: Three Ways of Gaining Correct Knowledge

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Jul 2, 2005
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      Yoga Sutras: Sutra 1.7:
      Three Ways of Gaining Correct Knowledge
      http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-10511.htm#1.7

      YOGA SUTRA 1.7: Of these five [kinds of thought patterns], there are
      three ways of gaining correct knowledge (pramana): 1) perception, 2)
      inference, and 3) testimony or verbal communication from others who
      have knowledge.
      (pratyaksha anumana agamah pramanani)

      PRATYAKSHA = direct perception or cognition

      ANUMANA = inference, reasoning, deduction

      AGAMAH = authority, testimony, validation, competent evidence

      PRAMANANI = valid means of knowing, proofs, sources of correct knowing

      THREE WAYS TO ATTAIN CORRECT KNOWING: The first of the five kinds of
      thought patterns described in the last sutra is pramana, which is
      real or valid cognition, right knowledge, valid proof, seeing
      clearly. Here, in sutra 1.7, three different ways are described about
      how one acquires that correct knowing. These are direct perception,
      reasoning, and validation. Each of them are valid, and standing alone
      can provide correct knowing, though you want the three to be in
      agreement. This description of correct knowing applies both to
      mundane ways of knowing, such as seeing objects in the external
      world, and to spiritual insights on the inner journey.

      SEEK EXPERIENCE, NOT MERE BELIEF: In the oral Yoga tradition, it is
      said that you should not believe what you hear, but should seek
      direct experience. This is the meaning of the first of these three
      ways of knowing. The second part is that of reasoning, whereby you
      want that experience to be understood in the light of your own
      inference or reasoning. The third part is that you seek the
      validation through some respected authority or testimony. This might
      be a textual authority, such as the Yoga Sutras, or some respected
      person who has first hand knowledge.

      GETTING THESE THREE TO CONVERGE: When you can get these three to
      converge, meaning that experience, reasoning, and authoritative
      validation all agree with one another, then you know, and you know
      that you know, in regard to any particular aspect of the inner
      journey. Thus, this sutra is an extremely practical tool for the
      inner journey.

      WHAT IF THE THREE HAVE NOT CONVERGED?: Consider the alternatives of
      these three converging. Often, people will have some experience with
      their spiritual journey, and have no understanding of what has
      happened, nor any validation. This can be frustrating and fearful,
      and can leave one wandering, feeling lost for a very long time. If
      the experience were understood and validated, it could be integrated
      and used as a stepping stone to more advanced spiritual insights. If
      one has only logical reasoning, but no experience or validation, it
      can lead to mere intellectualizing. If one only has the authoritative
      knowledge, without personal understanding or experience, it can lead
      to cold memorization, such as can happen in academia.

      SEEK EACH, AND ALSO CONVERGENCE: For the sincere seeker, direct
      experience, reasoning, and validation are all three sought in
      relation to the inner journey, and in such a way that there is a
      convergence of the three.