Knowledge by Identity and Resonant Action

The true knowledge that is beyond reason comes by identity which means by becoming one in consciousness with the object of knowledge. In this state of knowledge, the object of knowledge is no longer outside or other than the knower but becomes a part of the knower or the self of the knower becomes one with the self of the object of knowledge. This knowledge by identity happens at various forms and levels at the advanced stages of concentration or in the higher ranges of spiritual consciousness. However, knowledge by identity is not confined to yoga or spirituality, it can also happen in science. Please see the note at the end of this article, which describes the experience of a Nobel laureate in science.(1) Similarly peak creative action happen when we loose our ‘self’ and become one with the flow of energy in action, which may be called as resonant action. Some of the latest research in modern psychology conforms Mother’s perceptions on resonant action described in this article. Readers may refer to the interview with an eminent psychologist Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Creative Flow” published in this issue of FDI. This article described the yogic approach to knowledge and action and its relevance for excellence in work and effective leadership.

Key Perspectives

The yogic knowledge by identity; how to identify; resonant action; its importance for excellence in work and effective leadership; notes on two examples of knowledge-by-identity.

The Yogic Knowledge by Identity

The Yogi does not know in the way of the mind. He does not know everything in the sense that he has access to all possible information or because he contains all the facts of the universe in his mind or because his consciousness is a sort of miraculous encyclopedia. He knows by his capacity for a containing or dynamic identity with things and persons and forces.(2) Or he knows because he lives in a plane of consciousness or is in contact with a consciousness in which there is the truth and the knowledge.

If you are in the true consciousness, the knowledge you have will also be of the truth. Then, too, you can know directly, by being one with what you know. If a problem is put before you, if you are asked what is to be done in a particular matter, you can then, by looking with enough attention and concentration, receive spontaneously the required knowledge and the true answer. It is not by any careful application of theory that you reach the knowledge or by working it out through a mental process. The scientific mind needs these methods to come to its conclusions. But the Yogi’s knowledge is direct and immediate; it is not deductive. If an engineer has to find out the exact position for the building of an arch, the line of its curve and the size of its opening, he does it by calculation, collating and deducing from his information and data. But a Yogi needs none of these things; he looks, has the vision of the thing, sees that it is to be done in this way and not in another, and this seeing is his knowledge.

How to identify

One can learn how to identify oneself. One must learn. It is indispensable if one wants to get out of one’s ego. For so long as one is shut up in one’s ego, one can’t make any progress.

There are many ways. I’ll tell you one.

When I was in Paris, I used to go to many places where there were gatherings of all kinds, people making all sorts of researches, spiritual (so-called spiritual), occult researches, etc. And once I was invited to meet a young lady (I believe she was Swedish) who had found a method of knowledge, exactly a method for learning. And so she explained it to us. We were three or four (her French was not very good but she was quite sure about what she was saying!); she said: “It’s like this, you take an object or make a sign on a blackboard or take a drawing – that is not important – take whatever is most convenient for you. Suppose, for instance, that I draw for you… (she had a blackboard) I draw a design.” She drew a kind of half-geometric design. “Now, you sit in front of the design and concentrate all your attention upon it – upon that design which is there. You concentrate, concentrate without letting anything else enter your consciousness-except that. Your eyes are fixed on the drawing and don’t move at all. You are as it were hypnotised by the drawing. You look (and so she sat there, looking), you look, look, look…. I don’t know, it takes more or less time, but still for one who is used to it, it goes pretty fast. You look, look, look, you become that drawing you are looking at. Nothing else exists in the world any longer except the drawing, and then, suddenly, you pass to the other side; and when you pass to the other side you enter a new consciousness, and you know.”

We had a good laugh, for it was amusing. But it is quite true, it is an excellent method to practise. Naturally, instead of taking a drawing or any object, you may take, for instance, an idea, a few words. You have a problem preoccupying you, you don’t know the solution of the problem; well, you objectify your problem in your mind, put it in the most precise, exact, succinct terms possible, and then concentrate, make an effort; you concentrate only on the words, and if possible on the idea they represent, that is, upon your problem – you concentrate, concentrate, concentrate until nothing else exists but that. And it is true that, all of a sudden, you have the feeling of something opening, and one is on the other side. The other side of what?… It means that you have opened a door of your consciousness, and instantaneously you have the solution of your problem.

It is an excellent method of learning “how” to identify oneself.

The Resonant Action

If you want to do something well, whatever it may be, any kind of work, the least thing, play a game, write a book, do painting or music or run a race, anything at all, if you want to do it well, you must become what you are doing and not remain a small person looking at himself doing it; for if one looks at oneself acting, one is… one is still in complicity with the ego. If, in oneself, one succeeds in becoming what one does, it is a great progress. In the least little details, one must learn this. Take a very amusing instance: you want to fill a bottle from another bottle; you concentrate (you may try it as a discipline, as a gymnastic); well, as long as you are the bottle to be filled, the bottle from which one pours, and the movement of pouring, as long as you are only this, all goes well. But if unfortunately you think at a given moment: “Ah! It is getting on well, I am managing well”, the next moment it spills over! It is the same for everything, for everything. That is why work is a good means of discipline, for if you want to do the work properly, you must become the work instead of being someone who works, otherwise you will never do it well. If you remain “someone who works” and, besides, if your thoughts go vagabonding, then you may be sure that if you are handling fragile things they will break, if you are cooking, you will burn something, or if you are playing a game, you will miss all the balls! It is here, in this, that work is a great discipline. For if truly you want to do it well, this is the only way of doing it.

Take someone who is writing a book, for instance. If he looks at himself writing the book, you can’t imagine how dull the book will become; it smells immediately of the small human personality which is there and it loses all its value. When a painter paints a picture, if he observes himself painting the picture, the picture will never be good, it will always be a kind of projection of the painter’s personality; it will be without life, without force, without beauty. But if, all of a sudden, he becomes the thing he wants to express, if he becomes the brushes, the painting, the canvas, the subject, the image, the colours, the value, the whole thing, and is entirely inside it and lives it, he will make something magnificent.

For Effective Leadership

The first thing is to learn how to know by identity. That is indispensable when one has the responsibility for others. To learn how to guide other people, the first indispensable step is to know how to enter into their minds so as to know them-not to project one’s thought, imagine what they are, but go out of oneself and enter into them, to know what is happening there. Then, in this way, one knows them because one is them. When one knows only oneself in others, that means one knows nothing. One may be completely mistaken. One imagines it is like this or that – one judges by appearances or else through mental preferences, preconceived ideas; that is to say, one knows nothing. But there is one condition in which one doesn’t even need to know, to try to know what somebody is like: one can’t do otherwise but feel what he is, for he is a projection of oneself. And unless one knows how to do that, one can never do what is necessary for people-unless one feels as they feel, thinks as they think, unless one is able to enter into them as though one were they themselves.

That is the only way. If you try to know with a small active mind, you will never know anything-nor by looking at people and telling yourself: “Why, he does this in this way and that way, so he must be like that.” That is impossible.

So, the first task of those who have a responsibility – for instance, those who are in charge of educating other children, taking care of others, from rulers to teachers and monitors – their first task is to learn how to identify themselves with the others, to feel as they do. Then one knows what one should do. One keeps one’s inner light, keeps one’s consciousness where it ought to be, very high above, in the light, and at the same time gets identified, and so one feels what they are, what their reactions are, what their thoughts, and one holds that before the light one has: one succeeds in thinking out perfectly well what should be done for them. You will tell each one what he needs to hear, you will act with each one as is necessary to make him understand.

And that is why it is a wonderful grace to have the responsibility for a certain number of people, for that obliges you to make the most essential progress. And I hasten to tell you that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people don’t make it. But that is exactly why things are in such a bad way. Particularly those who have the responsibility of governing a country – this is the last thing they think about! They are very eager rather to keep their way of seeing and their way of feeling, and fiercely refrain from realising the needs of those over whom they rule. But indeed one can see that the result is not up to much; so far it is evident that one can’t say that governments have been remarkable institutions. It is the same thing on all levels: there are small governments, there are big governments. But the laws are the same, for all. And unless, when giving a lesson, you are able, there and then, to take in the entire atmosphere, to gather the vibrations around people, put them all together, keep all that before you, and become aware of what you can do with this stuff (with the vibrations you can spread, the forces you can give out, those which will be received, those which will be assimilated), unless you do that, mostly you too are wasting your time. In order to do the least work, one must make a lot of progress.


1. Here is an interesting description of a form of knowledge by identity by a woman scientist and Nobel Laureate in biology, Barbara McClintock during her research or chromosomes in corn seeds:

“I found the more I worked with them, the bigger and bigger the chromosomes got and when I was working with them, I wasn’t outside I was part of the system… it surprised me because I actually felt I was right down and those were my friends. As you look at these things they become a part of you.”

2. A more perfect and complete example of knowledge-by-identity is described in the following passage, which is from the inner experiences of The Mother narrated in her book, “Prayers and Meditations”:

“A Deep concentration seized on me, and I perceived that I was identifying myself with a single cherry-blossom, then through it with all cherry-blossoms, and, as I descended deeper in the consciousness, following a stream of bluish force, I became suddenly the cherry-tree itself, stretching towards the sky like so many arms its innumerable branches laden with their sacrifice of flowers.”

The Mother

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