Vidya is knowledge, specifically the knowledge we gain through study and practice. So often we think that the process of gaining knowledge happens in an instant – a flash of insight or clarity, a dramatic lightning strike of awareness – when really, everything in yoga is trying to encourage us to see the subtle shifts created through diligent practice. The idea of instant wisdom is a myth – everything in yoga is depth over time, and ideally a significant amount of time. Wisdom is only valuable if we work for it. Even the great sages had to spend time in practice or at the feet of teachers to come to the deep knowledge they knew. Artists spend hours in practice – drawing or making clay test vessels, composers play a lot of notes to come up with a symphony. But they already know the work, the job is to bring it to life. Buddha himself had to spend a decade in austerities to come to realize the wisdom he already knew somewhere.
The idea of instant knowledge or instant wisdom is a trap. For those of us who are not yet fully in the space of what we feel to be deep wisdom, it can make us feel like we haven’t yet earned wisdom, that we aren’t chosen or special, which really has nothing to do with the practice of yoga at all. Each person contains the wisdom, but according to yogic philosophy we have forgotten it. It’s there, a small ember buried in the ash of societal demands and constraints, self doubt, wounding, trauma, and and the minutiae of trying to live our lives as householders in a complex world. Our job, like the artist or the sage, is to fan the little ember until it becomes brighter and brighter. Until the wisdom can fully illuminate our experience.
Once we agree – or at least cautiously entertain the idea that the wisdom is already there, our true selves are already there, we can start to see that we aren’t waiting on an externally driven awakening, but rather like a diligent keeper of a ritual fire – it must be fed, watched, cared for, checked.Each day we must keep the flame of wisdom going for ourselves.
And ultimately, we can see the vidya, the deep wisdom is simple:
you are enough
you are the cosmos awakening to itself
all will be well