Before I write further, let me share what are the pre-requisite in internalizing scriptures, and developing the qualities of a Seeker we discussed here.

a.     Faith/Shraddha – Having complete faith in Guru and Scripture is a prerequisite to learning scriptures.
Bhagvad Gita says – Shradham labhte gyanam. श्रद्धावान् लभते ज्ञानं (BG4.29), The one with the complete faith for Guru/Scripture only benefits

When we contemplate on the scripture, we argue, think, and understand how what is being taught is true. While we can critically analyze the scripture, we do not argue against the word of the Guru and scripture, with a lack of faith.

Why is faith really important?

We understand reality as we are conditioned in our minds. We may understand 70% of the scripture, but without necessary purity, 30% of the remainder cannot be understood and realized.  Hence, we need the faith that whatever is said by our Scriptures is the truth, and written for our benefit. In this way, we will not question, what we don’t understand, and keep walking the path, and with necessary purity understand & realize the truth.

b.  Devotion/ Bhakti – Such a person also should have devotion to his Guru and the scriptures.  What does devotion mean? Reverence and love for your Guru/Scriptures only will help you with a stable faith in your Guru/Scriptures.

Bhakti will help in the process of accepting and imbibing the teachings of Scripture/Guru.

c. Surrender/Samarpan – Arrogance acts as a roadblock in our journey of learning, and thus surrender helps in the process. Only with full acceptance, and complete surrender when you approach a Guru, the words they share, have

What are the steps to learning and internalizing scriptures

1)     Listening Mindfully /the practice of Shravanam ––

How do we know we have done the practice of shravana? When the ideas go inside our hearts, and they cause internal transformation/change. If there is no transformation and in alignment with the teaching, then we have not heard.

A mind that lacks faith is unfit for Shravanam.  Just as a child has an openness to the words of her mother, that level of faith is needed.  As these ideas are not available to the regular senses and mind, and are available through scriptures.

2)     Contemplate/Mananam –– Uninterrupted thinking & contemplation, based on what we have read/heard, is the practice of Mananam. When we contemplate in silence on the Scripture and Guru statements, these slowly soak in. Further, in contemplation, we can reason internally on how these statements or observations are true in our life.

Only knowledge (gyan) can remove ignorance (agyan) in our life.

3)     Meditate/ Niddhidyasanam

The result of shravanam and mananam of the scriptural truth is that you reach a stage of meditation, and this is the fruit of the practice and will come on its own.  An aid in this process is to limit our speech, which helps in our mindful listening, and contemplation.

We then go on to build the virtues we need to be an aspirant using firm faith, devotion, and surrender.  These virtues, which we discussed here, are called Sadhana Chatushtaya (fourfold discipline).

In summary, they are  –
1. Viveka/Discernment
2. Vairagya/Renunciation
3. Mumukshavata/Longing for Liberation
4. Shamadi Shat Sampati/Sixfold qualities, which are
              a. Shama/Calmness of mind
              b. Dama/Control of senses
              c. Uparati/ No likes/dislikes
              d. Titiksha/Forbearance
               e. Shraddha/Faith
                f. Samadhana/Single-pointed concentration

EpilogueRecently, I attended a 5-day intense retreat on Vivekachudamani, at Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, and the discourses were taken by Swami Shuddhidananda.   This Advaita center was started by Swami Vivekananda, and one which practices complete Advaita (no idol worship), and is a hub for several books & publications.  The above & recent articles are a summary of what I learned there.