7. Niyama - Cognition | Mati


Summary of the Seventh Observance

Develop a spiritual will and intellect with your Satguru’s guidance.
Strive for knowledge of God, to awaken the light within.
Discover the hidden lesson in each experience to develop a profound understanding of life and yourself.
Trough meditation, cultivate intuition by listening to the still, small voice within, by understanding the subtle sciences, inner worlds and mystical texts.

The Seventh Observance


Mati / मति

Cognition, mati, is the seventh niyama.

Cognition means understanding; but deeper than understanding, it is seeing through to the other side of the results that a thought, a word or an action would have in the future, before the thought, word or action has culminated.

Mati is the development of a spiritual will and intellect through the grace of a satguru, an enlightened master. Mati can only come this way.

It is transference of divine energies from the satguru to the śiṣya, building a purified intellect honed down by the guru for the śiṣya,

and a spiritual will developed by the śiṣya by following the religious sādhanas the guru has laid down until the desired results are attained to the guru’s satisfaction.

Mati, cognition, on a higher level is the awakening of the third eye, looking out through the heart chakra, seeing through the māyā, the interacting creation, preservation and dissolution of the molecules of matter.

Mati is all this and more, for within each one who is guided by the guru’s presence lies the ability to see not only with the two eyes but with all three simultaneously.

The spiritual intellect described herein is none other than wisdom, or a “wise dome,” if you will. Wisdom is the timely application of knowledge, not merely the opinions of others, but knowledge gained through deep observation.

The guru’s guidance is supreme in the life of the dedicated devotee who is open for training. The verbal lineages of the many sampradāyas have withstood the tests of time, turmoil, decay and ravage of external hostility.

The sampradāyas that have sustained man and lifted him above the substratum of ignorance are actually great nerve currents within the sushumṇā of the awakened satguru himself.

To go further on the path of yoga, one will encounter within his own sushumṇā current —within one of the fourteen Nāḍis within it — a satguru, a guru who preaches truth.

He will meet this guru in a dream or in his physical body, and through the guru’s grace and guidance will be allowed to continue the upward climb.

These fourteen currents, at every point in time on the surface of the Earth, have a satguru attached to them, ready and waiting to open the portals of the beyond into the higher chakras, the throat, the third eye and the cranium.

It is in the heart chakra, the chakra of cognition, that seekers see through the veils of ignorance, illusion, māyā’s interacting preservation, creation and destruction,

and gain a unity with and love for the universe—all those within it, creatures, peoples and all the various forms—feeling themselves a part of it.

Here, on this threshold of the Anāhata chakra, there are two choices:

One is following the sampradāya of a satguru for the next upward climb into the Viśuddha, Ajñā and Sahasrāra.

The other is remaining guru-less, becoming one’s own guru, and possibly delving into various forms of psychism, astrology, some forms of modern science, psychic crime-detection, tarot cards, pendulums, crystal gazing, psychic healing, past-life reading or fortune-telling:

These psychic abilities, when developed, can be an impediment, a deterrent, a barrier, a berlin wall to future spiritual development. They develop the āṇava, the ego, and are the first renunciations the satguru would ask a devotee to make prior to being accepted.

Coming under a satguru, one performs according to the guru’s direction with full faith and confidence:

This is why scriptures say a guru must be carefully chosen, and when one is found, to follow him with all your heart, to obey and fulfil his every instruction better than he would have expected you to, and most importantly, even better than you would have expected of yourself.

Psychic abilities are not in themselves deterrents on the path:

They are permitted to develop later, after Paraśiva, nirvikalpa samādhi, has been attained and fully established within the individual.

But this, too, would be under the guru’s grace and guidance, for these abilities are looked at as tools to fulfil certain works assigned by the guru to the devotee to fulfil until the end of the life of the physical body.

It is the personal ego, the āṇava, that is developed through the practice of palmistry, astrology, tarot cards, fortune-telling, past-life reading, crystal gazing, crystal healing, prāṇa transference, etc., etc., etc.

This personal ego enhancement is a gift from those who are healed, who are helped, who are encouraged and who are in awe of the psychic power awakened in the heart chakra of this most perfect person of the higher consciousness who doesn’t anger, display fear or exhibit any lower qualities.

Untying the Bonds

The three malas that bind us are:

1. māyā, the ever-perpetuating dance of creation, preservation and dissolution;
2. karma (our prārabdha karma, brought with us to face in this life, along with the karma we are creating now and will create in the future); and
3. āṇava, the ego, ignorance or sense of separateness.

Māyā can be understood, seen through and adjusted to through the heart-chakra powers of cognition, contentment and compassion.

Karmas can be harnessed through regular forms of disciplinary practices of body, mind and emotions, and the understanding of the law of karma itself as a force that is sent out through thought, feeling and action and most often returns to us through other peoples’ thought, feeling and action.

But it is the āṇava mala, the mala of personal ego that is the binding chain which cannot be so easily dealt with. It is the last to go. It is only at the point of death, before the greatest mahā samadhi of the greatest Ṛishi, that the āṇava mala chain is finally broken.

If we compare this āṇava mala, personal ego, to an actual mālā, a string of Rudrākṣa beads, the purpose on the path at this stage, of mati, is to begin eliminating the beads, making the chain shorter and shorter. The mālā should be getting shorter and shorter rather than our adding beads to it so that it gets longer and longer:

A warning: if the āṇava mala— symbolically a garland of Rudrākṣa beads—has 36 beads and it steadily grows to 1008

because of practices and the adulation connected with them within the psychic realms of the pseudoscience of parapsychology—such as bending spoons, telepathy, channelling and ectoplasmic manifestations—

this 1008 strand of Rudrākṣa beads could become so heavy, so dangerous to the wearer, that eventually he would trip and fall on his nose.

The wise say, “Pride goes before a fall.” And the still wiser know that “spiritual pride is the most difficult pride to deal with, to eliminate, to rise above in a lifetime.” The spiritually proud never open themselves to a satguru. The mystically humble do.

Mati has also been interpreted as “good intellect, acute intelligence, a mind directed toward right knowledge, or Vedic knowledge.”

Good intellect, in the context of a Hindu seer, would be right knowledge based on Siddhānta Śravaṇa, scriptural study.

Acute intelligence, of course, means “see-through” or panoramic intelligence which cognizes the entire picture rather than only being aware of one of its parts.

“A mind directed toward right knowledge or Vedic knowledge” refers to the intellect developed through Siddhāṅta Śravaṇa:

The study of the Vedas and other scriptures purifies the intellect, as belief creates attitude, and attitude creates action:

An intellect based on truths of the Sanātana Dharma is intelligent to the divine laws of the universe and harnessed into fulfilling them as a part of it. To this end, all the prārabdha karmas of this life and the action-reaction conglomerates formed in this life are directed.

The intellect, like the emotions, is a force, disciplined or undisciplined, propelled by right knowledge or wrong knowledge. It, of itself, processes, logically or illogically, both kinds of knowledge and their mix.

What harnesses the intellect is Siddhāṅta Śravaṇa, study of the teachings and listening to the wise of an established, traditional lineage that has stood the test of time, ravage and all attempts at conversion.

The intellect is a neutral tool which can be used for bad or for good purposes. But unlike the emotions, which are warm, and also neutral, the intellect is cold:

It is the fire of the Kuṇḍalinī force—impregnating the intellect, purifying it, burning out the ignorance of wrong concepts, thought forms, beliefs, connected attitudes, causing an aversion to certain actions—that forges the purified intellect and spiritual will of cognition, known as mati.

Mati, in summary, is the harnessing of the intellect by the soul to live a spiritual life.

Purifying the Intellect

There are many things which have their claim on people’s minds:

For many it is the physical body. The hypochondriac thinks about it all the time.

Then there is the employer who has bought the intellect of the employee.

The emotions consume the intellect with hurt feelings and the rhetorical questions that ensue, elated feelings and the continued praise that is expected.

And then there is television, the modern Viśva-guru that guides the intellect into confusion. As a dream leads only to waking up, television leads only to turning it off.

Yes, there are many things that claim the intellect, more than we have spoken about.

The intellect is guided by the physical; the intellect is guided by the emotions, by other people, and by mechanical devices.

And the intellect is guided by the intellect itself, like a computer processing and reprocessing knowledge without really understanding any of it.

It is at the stage when anger has subsided, jealousy is unacceptable behaviour and fear is a distant feeling, when memory is intact, the processes of reason are working well, the willpower is strong and the integrity is stable,

when one is looking out from the Anāhata chakra window of consciousness, when instinctive-intellectual thought meets the superconscious of the puruṣa, the soul, that the inner person lays claim on the outer person.

There is a struggle, to be sure, as the “I Am” struggles to take over the “was then.” It’s simple. The last mala, the āṇava “mālā,” has to start losing its beads.

The personal ego must go for universal cosmic identity, Satchidānanda, to be maintained:

This, then, is the platform of the throat chakra, the Viśuddha chakra, of a true, all-pervasive, never-relenting spiritual identity.

Here guru and śiṣya live in oneness in divine communication. Even if never a word is spoken, the understanding in the devotee begins to grow and grow and grow.

Some people think of the intellect as informing the superconscious or soul nature, instructing or educating it. Some people even think that they can command the Gods to do their bidding:

These are the people that also think that their wife is a slave, the children are their servants, and who cleverly deceive their employers and governments through learned arts of deception.

These are the prototypes of the well-developed ignorant person, even though he might feign humility and proclaim religiousness.

It is the religion that he professes, if he keeps doing so, that will pull him out of this darkness:

When the first beam of light comes through the Mūlādhāra chakra, he will start instructing his own soul as to what it should do for him,

yet he still habitually dominates his wife, inhibiting her own feelings as a woman, and his children, inhibiting their feelings in experiencing themselves being young.

But the soul responds in a curious way, unlike the wife and children, or the employer and government who have been deceived through his wrong dealings.

The soul responds by creating a pin which pricks his conscience, and this gnawing, antagonistic force within him he seeks to get rid of. He hides himself in jealousy, in the Sutala chakra, until this becomes unacceptable.

The confusion of the Talātala chakra is no longer his pleasure. He can’t hide there. So, he hides himself in anger and resentment—a cosy place within the Vitala chakra—until this becomes unbearable.

Then he hides himself in fear, in the Atala chakra, fear of his own puruṣa, his own soul, his own psyche, his own seeing, until this becomes intolerable.

Then he hides himself in memory and reason, and the being puts down its roots.

The change in this individual can only be seen by the mellowness within his eyes and a new-born wisdom that is slowly developing in his conversations among those who knew him before.

Transmuting Willpower

Willpower is a prāṇic force which exudes out of the Maṇipura chakra.

This energy, when directed downward, can be used up

through excessive reason, excessive memorization, fear and amplification of fears, anger, the perpetuation of resentment without resolution, amplified by instinctive jealousies, all of which eventually dissipate the semi-divine energy of willpower and eventually close the Maṇipura chakra.

But when this same energy of willpower is upwardly directed,

it pulls memory into a purified memory, making it forget what has to be forgotten, namely wrong knowledge,

and remember what has to be remembered—Siddhāṅta, the final conclusions of the Ṛishis who live within the Sahasrāra chakra, the siddhas who are contacted through great tapas.

There is no reason to believe that developing and unfolding the ten petals of the Maṇipura chakra comes easily:

To develop an indomitable will capable of the accomplishments needed as a prerequisite to make the upward climb to the Anāhata, Viśuddha, Ajñā and Sahasrāra chakras, and to sustain the benign attitudes of humility, is certainly not an easy task.

But it comes naturally to one who has attained such in prior lifetimes, an older soul, I would say.

Fulfilling each task one has begun, by accomplishing the little things, and perfecting the yamas and the niyamas, especially contentment, austerity, giving, faith and regular worship, builds this indomitable will. These are mini-sādhanas one can perform on his own without the guidance of a guru.

Yes, it is the little things that build the indomitable will that dominates the external intellect, its memory and reason abilities, and the instinctive impulses of fear, anger and jealousy. Doing this is just becoming a good person.

Willpower is the muscle of the mind:

We lift weights, exercise, run a mile, all to develop the muscles of the physical body. The more we perform these practices, the more muscular we become.

The process of strain reshapes the cellular properties and the structure of the muscles. Intermittent rest allows them to build up double. Strong muscles appear on the body as a result.

The Maṇipura chakra is the sun centre of the physical body and of the astral body, the place where all nerve currents of these two bodies meet and merge:

It emanates the power of life. It is the seat of fire, the Agṇi homa. It is the bridge between the ultimate illumination and a prolonged, on-going, intellectual processing of ideas, coupled with instinctive wilfulness.

Let there be no mistake, we must get beyond that by transmuting this tool, willpower, into mati, cognition, where its energies are usable yet benign.

Therefore, the more you use your personal, individual willpower in your religious service, in your business life, your personal life, your home life, your temple life, in fulfilling all the yamas and niyamas, the more willpower you have. It is an accumulative, ever-growing bank account.

Of course, you can lose some of it through lapses into fear, anger and jealousy, just as in an economic depression one loses money.

But you can also court an inflation by seeking higher consciousness in the Viśuddha chakra of divine love through the Anāhata chakra of direct cognition, through understanding the oneness of a well-ordered, just universe, both inner and outer.