I have been very fortunate to have been guided by Swami Ramdularay from 1975 through 1982. He neither taught any meditation techniques nor gave any discourses, but he would speak small sentences, filled with wisdom. One of his sayings was that “to know is one thing, to understand is another, but to be is something totally different”.
My guru, Mr Tavaria who taught me the refining practices, always asked me whether I knew that the practices were good for me or if I understood that they were good for me. He also used to say “If you do understand, you won’t miss doing them for a single day”.
Knowing is a function of the mind but understanding is an experience in the heart. Understanding has a tinge or quality of the energy of love. One may have worked the whole day and be very tired by evening, but the moment one’s spouse lovingly suggests going out – say for a movie, the energy of love willingly takes one to the movies, regardless of the fatigue. Mr. Tavaria explained that if one loved the practices, however busy or tired one was, if there were a marriage to attend or someone’s funeral to go to, one would never miss the practices (because now one loved them).
With understanding comes the sensitivity of the energy of love. We live in an age where there is an explosion of information; everyone seems to know everything. We keep on gathering information, albeit with little understanding. This has led to a dearth of the energy of love. We are crammed with information but our hearts have become dry.
Beyond understanding comes being, the art of living what we have understood. Let us take an analogy. Say, on reaching the top of a mountain, one’s whole being is drenched in light. The real art comes, though, when one descends from the top; not leaving the light there but bringing it along and then sharing it in every kind of relationship. Seeing the light at the top ignites the lamp of understanding, but doing every small act of one’s life in the glow of this light is being. To go from understanding a truth to actually living it is a small but a revolutionary step.