By Sant Kirpal Singh, from the book "Spirituality – what it is", chapter 13
A person may have a short or a long vision. One may see right under one's nose and another may be able to penetrate into the far-off heavenly regions. There is a world of difference between these two. We should, therefore, seek out a person who is fully established in Godhood or Divinity,, and who is a conscious co-worker with God. The, we may be able to know and understand from Him God's ways and have access to an actual experience of God-realisation.
God-knowledge is an inner science of the soul, and hence is known as Paravidya, or the knowledge of the Beyond, as contradistinguished from Apravidya, or experience and knowledge on the level of the senses. All scientific knowledge, with its vast scope, unlimited extent and untold possibilities, is, after all, a knowledge of the physical, material world, and does not constitute the fundamental knowledge. It tells us only of the material creation and provides food for the intellect, while Paravidya is concerned with the creator or the reality behind the creation, and provides food for the soul or spirit.
Apravidya deals with the objects within the range of the human senses, the laws governing their growth, and how the same can be conquered and pressed into service for the benefit of mankind. Paravidya deals with the active life-principle, which works in the creation and through which we feel the life-impulse in all animated creation. One may know a lot about the world and yet be altogether ignorant of the fundamental and basic life principle working within him, which is the very life of his life and the very soul of his soul. Self-knowledge, then, is the key that solves all the problems of life. The knowledge of the world is of little avail if we know not what we are. Learning and knowledge do sharpen the intellect and expand the field of its activity co-extensive with creation itself (should it be possible), but the more one may express himself outwardly, the farther he is removed from the ideal of real life – the life of spirit.
Bu Ali Qalander stated, "All that we see is a great optical delusion, a mere chimera and a mirage with no actual existence. All that we know is stark ignorance." Swamiji averred, "A man of intuition and realisation is an adept in the inner science, while a merely learned person is just an ignorant fool groaning under the dead-weight of books."
Science may tell us of physical objects and their interrelations, but it is totally ignorant of the creative power behind them. The goal of life does not consist in mere book knowledge and book learning, but consists in knowing the life-principle that is working in the entire creation: the Word, the Kalma or the Naam, whatever name we may like to give it. According to Master-souls, real knowledge finds its efflorescence and fulfillment in contacting the Sound-current, Shabd or Naad, and not merely in the reading of scriptures or other books.
The science of the Masters is purely an inner science and has continued as such from time immemorial. It is called Paravidya, which is knowledge self-existent and not dependent upon any other knowledge. It is the most ancient, the most natural and the most perfect science, but cannot be had from books alone. The scriptures have no doubt, made an attempt to deal with the spiritual science at some length, but all such efforts have proved abortive, since reality, infinite as it is, could not be confined in the dead and dry leaves, nor is there any model outside with which it can be compared. Moreover, the writers with finite words and the limited intellect have no means to describe it adequately.
The Master-souls have always advised meticulous abstention from learned disputations or philosophic polemics, as reality lies far beyond the range of the senses, the human mind and the human intellect. Indulging in intellectual pursuits does not change one's life. The Master-souls emphatically enjoin and ordain, "Be the doer of the word and not the hearer alone." Their teachings are ready cash and do not admit of credit bargains. It is a practical science and not a mere theoretical reasoning. One must learn the theory first, say good-bye to one's logic, and then practice and see what one gains.
"The secret of success lies in practicing the discipline and not in reasoning and arguments; Leave off all discussions and dissertations, and do the thing and take the reality." – Swamiji
In Mandyuk Upanishad it is said that once a person, Shounack by name, went to the sage Bhardwaj and questioned, "Master, tell me of the knowledge that may make one omniscient, or all-knowing." The sage replied, "O Shounack! the knowers of Brahm tell us that in the world there are two types of knowledge: Apravidya and Paravidya. The former consists in the study of Vedas and other scriptures and all kinds of physical sciences, like astronomy, grammar, etc., but it does not bring one face to face with Brahm. The latter – Paravidya – is knowledge of the beyond, with which Brahm, the unchangeable Ashkar, is found. It is a practical subject and deals with self-knowledge and God knowledge, both of which lie beyond the pale of senses, mind, intellect. It can be realised by pure Atman, or spirit, only after it has, by right contemplation, freed itself by peeling off layer by layer the various koshas, or coverings, enshrouding it, and has actually transcended the physical, the subtle and the causal bodies. While the one is purely a bookish knowledge of the world, the other is a science of inversion, or withdrawal of the spirit from the world and from worldly objects and relations, and this is the root of all knowledge."