Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Self-study, self- analysis; also, studying sacred scripture. These are two different definitions for Svadhyaya. Initially, you might think, Huh? which is it - self analysis or study of sacred scripture? But further examination shows that these two definitions are meant to be together. Just recently I read the best explanation for this, and unfortunately I cannot remember who wrote it, but I do remember the explanation quite clearly as it made a whole lot of sense to me. We need to work on studying ourselves first, and for a long time, before we begin to study sacred scripture. This is because we need a good acquaintance with our inner-most selves, our strengths and our weaknesses, an acknowledgment of ego and knowing the difference between ego and true self, before we dive into scripture. Only then can we really choose the sacred scripture that is right for us as individuals. It is considered a waste of time to study lots of different sacred scriptures, dabbling a little with this or that religion or philosophy, if we have not yet done the work of getting to know ourselves. We get side-tracked, pulled this way and that way, and only really end up more confused than enlightened, if we spread ourselves too thin. So the concept of Svadhyaya is to study every aspect of ourselves (the Yamas help us get started!), practicing Satya (Truth) in everything we do, think, and say. Then, after many years of such practice, we will know intuitively which sacred scriptures will be most enlightening for us.