In the search for happiness, direct experience surpasses knowledge from external sources

by Leonard and Jenness Perlmutter

There’s lots of pressure placed on both children and parents these days. Ask any exhausted parent. Kids now have schedules as dizzying as any corporate CEO’s. Why? Because the culture is constantly warning that unless a child is well-rounded and accepted by a prestigious college, chances for success will be significantly diminished.

Without question, a solid college education or vocational training is a vital element in earning a livelihood. But the desire for our children’s success is so intense today, that we often forget to provide them a framework so they can seek and gain the kind of knowledge that will bring them lasting happiness and find yourself, the skills you learn in meditation can help you think the most beneficial thought, speak the most beneficial word and act in the most beneficial manner.

Without question, a solid college education or vocational training is essential to earning a livelihood. However, our desire for our children’s success has become so intense and shortsighted that we often forget they also need a philosophical framework for experiencing lasting happiness and contentment.

Knowledge can be gained from either external sources or from direct experience. The knowledge gained from external sources–by attending schools, colleges and universities–is important but incomplete. Although a college degree can provide valued and rewarding skills, it does not enhance our human capacity to make prudent, discriminating choices. On the other hand, intuitive wisdom gained through direct experience is self-evident and fulfilling, and an asset in every area of life.

The development of self-discipline, one-pointed attention and coordination of the mind are essential for a truly successful life. An undisciplined and unfocused mind that remains enslaved to unexamined fears, smoldering resentments and self-willed desires creates obstacles to happiness. A disciplined and focused mind, however, is an instrument that can access unerring wisdom from the center of consciousness and employ it to fashion actions that will always lead us for our highest and greatest good.

Most of our actions are based on information gathered from the external world. Mother is our first teacher, followed by our father, siblings, other relatives, teachers, friends, the media and authors. Yet no matter how learned we may become, knowledge from external sources still merely represents the ideas, suggestions and limitations of others.

It is shocking to realize that most of the knowledge we claim is not really our own. We’ve merely assimilated the goals, fashions and values of our society. In some ways this can serve us well, but it also leaves us ignorant of our own innate wisdom and chronically dependent on the advice and suggestions of others. If, however, we learn to experiment with the information acquired from outside through the science of yoga, we can gain direct experience and move closer to the happiness we all seek.

No matter how impressive it may appear, if knowledge gained from the external world doesn’t help ameliorate our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dis-ease, it has little real value. In many cases, the more information we gain (like the deluge of information on the internet), the more burdened our lives become. By gaining increased access to information we may become better educated– but not enlightened nor free.

In ancient times wise people exhibited a great will force to know the Truth directly. They were not satisfied by the mere opinions of others, nor swayed by the tide of culture. Through their spiritual practice they learned that Truth directly realized through the buddhi (conscience) needs no external source of verification.

With the advent of computers and the internet, human beings today can easily learn what to do and what not to do, but it has become increasingly difficult to learn how to be. Real knowledge is not found in intellectual knowing. It is found in being. The spiritual practice of yoga science leads to direct experience of intuitive wisdom, creativity and the end of sorrow. The outside world and institutions of higher learning can definitely stimulate your mind and teach you the skills needed to make a respectable living, but real peace and wisdom come from within. When you learn to calm, focus and discipline your mind through a regular, systematic practice of meditation, the wisdom you really need will come forward without effort.

In service – with Love

Leonard and Jenness Perlmutter

P.S. We wish you happy, healthy and rewarding holidays. May your practice of yoga science be your constant, loving companion.