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Not an Intellectual Teaching
Student: Dear James, greetings! I hope all is well in beautiful Spain! Congratulations on Isvara allowing you to make the leap!
I was just reading Is Enlightenment Possible for Serious Yogis? from ShiningWorld. James states that, “It is not an intellectual teaching, although it requires a discriminating mind.” I’ve heard James say this over the years, and I don’t quite understand it. What makes something an intellectual teaching? Maybe I don’t understand what “intellectual” really means. Is the intellect not the main tool of a discriminating mind?
James: I mean that Vedanta is not an academic exercise, an attempt to memorize concepts that don’t change your fundamental orientation to yourself and life. You can’t read your way to freedom. It needs to be assimilated once it is heard clearly as it is taught by a competent teacher wielding the means of knowledge skillfully, which leads to your second question.
Student: Another thing that has confused me is when James sometimes states (in videos seen) that a Vedanta satsang isn’t a “lecture.” Is it not an educational talk on the knowledge of yoga? Thank you so much. I’m just trying to wrap my mind around the overall idea of Vedanta satsangs and how to communicate that to others.
James: It is not a lecture that just delivers information. It is a pramana, a means of knowledge, a proven methodology that removes ignorance about the world, the jiva, Isvara and existence, consciousness, that again radically changes your relationship to yourself and the world. Yes, all knowledge is intellectual in the sense that the intellect is the means for receiving it, but “book knowledge” only affects your thoughts depending on your memory, whereas Self-knowledge properly taught to a qualified person erases your fundamental self-concept, as it directly reveals who you actually are.
~ Love, James