The Laws of Dharma: 8. Knowledge (vidya)

The meaning of the value of knowledge could be misconstrued if we don’t understand how the word vidya was meant when the Vedic rishis composed these Laws of Dharma. Vidya comes from the same Sanskrit root from which the Greeks took the word ‘vision’. It is about a vision of the cosmos that is holistic and holographic, as it was to all true scientists – known then as alchemists and hermeticists– before knowledge was separated into objective and subjective, alive and inert and spirit and matter during the woefully misnamed Age of Enlightenment.

To my way of seeing, the Age of Enlightenment of the 17th –18th centuries caused such a Grand Canyon-sized rift in the visioning of man about how stuff works that it led to the darkest of Dark Ages from which we’re only just beginning to emerge today. For that reason, I believe that the Age of Enlightement is directly responsible for much of the mental illness, depression and despair under which burden humanity of modern times is weighed down.

The problem, and its solution, has never been better explained than in this extract from Hamlet’s Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechen. It’s a little long, but worth every word.

“When man discovers remote galaxies by the million, and then those quasi-stellar sources billions of light-years away which confound his speculation, he is happy he can reach out to those depths. But he pays a terrible price for his achievement. The science of astrophysics reaches out on a grander and grander scale without losing its footing. Man as man cannot do this. In the depths of space, he loses himself and all notion of his significance. He is unable to fit himself into the concepts of today’s astrophysics short of schizophrenia. Modern man is facing the inconceivable.

“Archaic man, however, kept a firm grip on the conceivable by framing within his cosmos an order of time and an eschatology that made sense to him and reserved a fate for his soul. Yet it was a prodigiously vast theory, with no concessions to merely human sentiments. It too dilated the mind beyond the bearable although without destroying man’s role in the cosmos. It was ruthless metaphysics.

“Not a forgiving universe, not a world of mercy. That surely not. Inexorable as the stars in their courses – miserationis parcissimae, the Romans used to say. Yet it was a world somehow not unmindful of man, one in which there was an accepted place for everything, rightfully and not only statistically, where no sparrow could fall unnoted, and where even that which was rejected through its own error would not go down to eternal perdition; for the order of Number and Time was a total order preserving all, of which all were members; gods and men and animals, trees and crystals and even absurd errant stars, all subject to law and measure.”

Another word for vidya knowledge is gnostic, and this is where the word ‘ignorance’ comes from: lack of gnosis is ignosis. Most scientists today are so blinded by ignosis that they construct miles-long tunnels under the Earth in which to beat up atoms to try to discover “the god principle”. The tunnels they needed to go down to discover the god principle are all inside them. The shamans who journey through these tunnels know that when the inner vision combines with the outer vision, maya (illusion) collapses.

This is the vision, and the teaching on how to achieve that vidya, that I have laid out in Stories in the Stars.

STORIES IN THE STARS is here on and here on