How to Gain Correct Knowledge (Pramana)

The process of Yoga suggests three steps to gaining correct knowledge (Pramana). Pramana enables us to align our energy with love and compassion, thus fine tuning our extrasensory, and the regular faculties of perception, reasoning, and validation.

The Supernatural

Supernatural power used to be our natural ability which we have forgotten, and the extrasensory perception (ESP) is our forgotten natural capacity to percieve. These powers have been systematically conditioned into a state of dormancy. Yoga is the science of reclaiming these powers.

(1) Perception

Pratyaksha in Sanskrit means perception. There are two types of perception, internal and external. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of our five senses of touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing with worldly objects. In short, senses are transducers from the physical world to the realm of the mind where we interpret the information, creating our perception of the world around us. External perception is the grossest form of perception and extremely limited in its ability. It allows us to experience the universe through a very tiny window limiting the endless spectra of realities available to us for perception.

While we may easily admit that our senses are very unreliable guides because they are not sufficiently acute, we may even admit that they are wholly unsuited to allow us to perceive the ultimate basis of phenomena, but it is also reasonable to believe that our senses are susceptible to education, and that their acuity can be increased.

Question: Why is external perception limited?

Information is perceived in the form of Morse code. When information comes into the sensory nerve cell, it will be stimulated and there will be spikes at particular intervals causing a wave of a particular amplitude. When the stimulus is removed, the wave will subside. The average vibrational frequency at which the cells of our nervous system can perceive stimulus from the environment is 10³ Hz.

Do remember that not all senses come through the cells, a number of them such as helplessness, and impending doom may come in through the varying energy fields we are immersed in, or we create it ourselves by thinking of experiences which are stored as memory. The vibration of the molecular structures in the brain and the endocrine glands than trigger emotions and inclinations associated with human autonomous system. Both sources of perception can elicit emotional responses.

But electromagnetic impulse is not limited to 10³ Hz. 99.999% of the energy generate vibrational frequency which has an impulse outside the limits of the human perceptible abilities. The atom vibrates at about 10¹⁵ Hz at room temperature while its nucleus at the rate of 10²². If an atom is vibrating at a million billion times per second than you know that it will be able to hold a distinct position of ON or OFF so many times in a given second since information is perceived as morse code.

If we could capitalize on the speed of the atom at this rate, then we would have a very fast communication device. But currently we don’t have any technological capability nor does the sense organs as communication devices, have the potential to work with something this fast. The senses are thus hopelessly slow to bear the onslaught of this much information. This is why external perception is limited. It operates within the limits of the sense organ's ability to perceive. The journey of a Yogi is about gradually transcending these limitations of the senses.

Internal Perception

Internal perception is that inner discernment which allows for the possibility of receiving information from subtle levels where the personal mind forms an interference pattern with the universal mind; the warehouse of all information that has existed since the creation of time and space. Internal perceptor is that speck of divinity within, which can access both, the collective mind, and the universal consciousness or Purusha. This faculty of the divine within humans do not rely on the five senses of perception as we shall learn later. Here the individual mind immerses itself into the universal mind and begins to garner knowledge through instinct, intuition, and insight to name a few channels.

If our thoughts were free from past experiences of hurt and frustration, then whatever our senses would perceive would be right knowledge. But since we are the product of our environment, this is not the case. To make matters more complicated, some psychologists have shown that we can have emotions such as anger, anxiety, or even sexual desire that never quite reaches our consciousness. In order to work with emotions that make us suffer, we need to know what they are, how they made their way into our minds, and what triggers them. After all, this is the fuel which energizes our thoughts. Yoga clears the dust that settles in the form of personal mind on the windshield of the divine consciousness within, enhancing internal perception.

(2) Deduction, or Reasoning

Anumana means inference. It is described as reaching a new conclusion and truth from one or more observations and previous truths by applying reason. You may not be able to meet Buddha or Christ in person but you may reasonably infer that there must be something to their teachings otherwise why would half the world march to their beat.

Testing your findings in the real world and revaluating the results. This is a trial and error process. After putting the findings to test you need to re-record the results and compare them to the goals. You need to do this with your beliefs, opinions, and fears.

(3) Validation by Authority

The third part is that you seek the validation through some respected authority or testimony. This might be a textual authority, such as the Yoga Sutras, or some respected person who has first hand knowledge. For example, if mother says that she washed your clothes yesterday, even though you did not see her do it, than it is likely that there are clean underwear’s drying on a tree somewhere because she's an honest person.

In this manner, by using Perception, Deduction, and Validation, you can attain the correct knowledge regarding any matter or experience without relying on speculation, reaction, or bias opinion. This is the first step towards analyzing your thoughts, feelings, and intentions. You must know why you think what you think, why you feel what you feel, and why you do what you do.

  • 1.7 pratyaksha anumana agamah pramanani
  • pratyaksha - direct perception or cognition

  • anumana - inference, reasoning, deduction

  • agamah - authority, testimony, validation, competent evidence

  • pramanani - valid means of knowing, proofs, sources of correct knowing

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Perception, Reasoning, and Validation in Action

Instead you draw from research that some of the greatest creative thought, and work can be attributed to people who did not adhere to conventions. You also aware that the universe has been known to manifest the intentions of an individual, provided those intentions are life-giving (pramanani).

So instead of doubting the words of the drunk, you infer (anumana) that there is a possibility he might just make his calling a reality some day. As a result, you start praying for him, and treating him with respect and dignity, offering words of encouragement every time you see him. This my friends, is perception, reasoning, and validation (discernment) in action, as a result of loving-kindness, empathy, and mindfulness, which was then followed through with compassion. Combined, this motivation is known as Altruism. A course on altruism will be added to this framework in the near future which will enable you to hone your altruistic inclinations.