Swami Kriyananda’s book Education for Life (EFL) is a gift to us all. It has inspired so many and continues to inspire me to make inquiries about the essence of true education through universal scientific yogic principles.
True Education for a Lifetime Is Self-Education
One chapter in the EFL book, “True Education is Self-Education” (Chapter 10) inspired me to go deeper into an understanding of self-education and how to live life every day with more harmony, joy, and creativity.
In this article, I want to share some of my personal insights about self-education which for me is a scientific process of understanding how to use multi-dimensional energy that includes physical, psychological, and infinite energies.
Early on in my practice when I meditated for hours, I thought that meditation would transform me into a balanced and sensitive human being. Unfortunately, not too long after I finished meditating, the peaceful self I had acquired vanished and my assertive, judgmental self emerged to dictate my behaviors. My continued frustrations and prejudices made me seek more answers and I decided to see if the universal and scientific EFL principles I used with my students could have a broader application to my own self-education skills.
I began with the physical body. It is a magnificent instrument. The physical body has a fundamental relationship with food, sleep, exercise, and sex. I wanted to pay close attention to those relationships in my own life. These relationships, when managed, help to keep the body full of vitality and vigor so that it can respond and function efficiently and effectively. What kind of foods and nutrition does the body require? How much sleep and exercise is needed? I monitored the schedule of my meals, sleep, and exercise. I wanted to bring attention and order to my daily routines. I experimented with moderation and self-restraint. I also recognized how almost any kind of indulgence caused an imbalance or tension in the body.
I next explored the psychological dimension to understand how the energies of my emotions, thoughts, and motives impacted me. I wanted to learn how the mind’s mechanistic and repetitive ways impeded my creativity. Why was it that my intentions and motives did not always match my words and actions? How could I interact with others without making judgments and evaluations? I wanted to understand the conceptual reality of my ego and the chaos of me, my, and mine to bring more clarity, equanimity, and peace to my own heart and relationships.
I also wanted to experience and understand the dimension beyond the physical and psychological self. What happens when I sit down quietly in meditation and observe? What comes into play beyond my thoughts and feelings? What is consciousness? The dimension of infinite energy lies beyond the mind. Personal experience is vital in this dimension where we can discover the true essence of infinite energy with our whole being.
Swamiji states in “The Importance, to Understanding, of Experience” (Chapter 9 of Education for Life), that the experience of our infinite being and energy provides us with the realization of our true essence as sensitive, receptive, and compassionate. All of the Masters have pointed out that we are so much more than our bodies. I wanted to translate this understanding into my daily life where these insights and experiences could best be explored and deepened.
My journey of self-education on the road to maturity is an experiential approach to learning using EFL principles. Swamiji says that maturity is “the ability to relate appropriately to other realities than one’s own.” This definition guides us to hone our perceptions with understanding so that we can relate to others beyond our prejudices and preferences. We will then naturally enjoy more harmony and peace in ourselves and in our relationships.
We continue self-education (sadhana) until our last breaths as jeevan sadhakas (Spiritual Inquirers). This process, like my meditation, is personal and scientific for me. It is a process both of learning and unlearning that I am joyfully experiencing and sharing with deep gratitude.