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Is moksha really possible?

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Is moksha really possible?

Postby Mira » Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:36 pm

I really enjoyed reading Wayne's recent posts on the form (thanks Wayne!). They got me to thinking that enlightenment (self-knowledge) may actually be the easy part. With a certain level of preparation and qualifications it's not hard to understand that you are the awareness principle behind creation.

The tough part is if you want moksha too! Of course, self-knowledge (when firm) leads to a certain default degree of moksha. That is, no matter what happens in duality, you know that you (as awareness) are not affected by it. But this basic level of moksha may not necessarily translate into a peaceful, sattvic, liberated existence for the jiva (which if we are honest, we, as spiritually-oriented jivas, all crave).

To go beyond the default degree of moksha, you have to radically alter your life's circumstances. You have to drastically simplify your life-style, you have to vigilantly manage the gunas, you have to follow dharma to the letter. And this is very hard to do in certain phases of life. I'm not trying to make excuses for my jiva---but having a young child, having a career where people depend on me, having the life of a householder in general makes it very hard, if not impossible.

I think for householders it is important for them to perform their worldly dharma and take care of the people and duties relying on them as best as possible. During the householder phase, Karma yoga actually makes the most sense for a peaceful mind. Because even though you may have firm self-knowledge, your everyday constant dealings with the world are as a jiva who is dependent on Ishvara.

After the householder phase is over (i.e., kids are grown, career is over etc., then I expect one can shift into the sanyas (or renunciation) phase. Here one can downsize, simplify, renounce and enjoy the more or less constant fruits of self-knowledge. You are awareness and you get to live as awareness in this phase. (In the householder phase, you are awareness, but you are constantly having to live as the jiva!).

It's like a percentage game. In the householder phase you live as 80% jiva and 20% as awareness. In the renunciant phase you are more likely to live 80% as awareness and 20% as jiva.

I realize that these two phases are not cut and dry and there may be significant overlap. And the one common aspect of both phases I feel, is devotion (bhakti) and seeking refuge in the knowledge constantly.

I would love to hear what your view on moksha is!
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby milarepa » Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:29 am

Hiya Mira!

Mira wrote:I really enjoyed reading Wayne's recent posts on the form (thanks Wayne!).


Thank you for the nod. Right back at ya, thoroughly enjoy reading you posts also.

Mira wrote:They got me to thinking that enlightenment (self-knowledge) may actually be the easy part.


Self-realization is an important milestone, but for sure, it is the beginning of the real work.

Mira wrote:The tough part is if you want moksha too! Of course, self-knowledge (when firm) leads to a certain default degree of moksha. That is, no matter what happens in duality, you know that you (as awareness) are not affected by it.



Definitely. Even 'firm' self-knowledge, even the understanding and assimilation of our identity, Moksha, may require vasana targeting, guna management, even niddyasana, at some point. Totally agree that whatever happens in this apparent reality cannot affect me, as I am whole and complete. Yet, there is no real point to all this, unless there are some fruits of Moksha. Which leads on to your comment...

Mira wrote: But this basic level of moksha may not necessarily translate into a peaceful, sattvic, liberated existence for the jiva (which if we are honest, we, as spiritually-oriented jivas, all crave).

To go beyond the default degree of moksha, you have to radically alter your life's circumstances. You have to drastically simplify your life-style, you have to vigilantly manage the gunas, you have to follow dharma to the letter. And this is very hard to do in certain phases of life. I'm not trying to make excuses for my jiva---but having a young child, having a career where people depend on me, having the life of a householder in general makes it very hard, if not impossible.


With you on this Mira. I had the life of a householder, like you. Had very little time for Vedanta. I remember kinda wanting Isvara to help. Help did come. My wife ran off with the next door neighbour. She left me, and took the kids. I then ended up in prison for 14 months. Wasnt anything to do with the wife and i hasten to add.

Oh Isvara gave me what i wanted - the space to practice Vedanta. I lost all worldly possessions. And relationships. But I had snail mail with Ram, and Sundari. Sundari being my primary teacher. And of course Ram's books. The whole thing was pretty cool, extreme, but worthwhile. a 14 month retreat, centered on Vedanta. The point is, and it's a general one, not to you specifically Mira, that Isvara has laid out our lives, the way it currently is, for a reason. and it is our own purpose to practice it as we are able to. :)

Mira wrote:I think for householders it is important for them to perform their worldly dharma and take care of the people and duties relying on them as best as possible. During the householder phase, Karma yoga actually makes the most sense for a peaceful mind. Because even though you may have firm self-knowledge, your everyday constant dealings with the world are as a jiva who is dependent on Ishvara.


Definitely, Karma yoga can save ones mind, in the midst of a hectic householder life, hehe.

Mira wrote:It's like a percentage game. In the householder phase you live as 80% jiva and 20% as awareness. In the renunciant phase you are more likely to live 80% as awareness and 20% as jiva.

I realize that these two phases are not cut and dry and there may be significant overlap. And the one common aspect of both phases I feel, is devotion (bhakti) and seeking refuge in the knowledge constantly.


I feel ones Svadharma can be fluid?


Warmest wishes
Wayne
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby Mira » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:35 pm

Hi Wayne,
Wayne wrote: With you on this Mira. I had the life of a householder, like you. Had very little time for Vedanta. I remember kinda wanting Isvara to help. Help did come. My wife ran off with the next door neighbour. She left me, and took the kids. I then ended up in prison for 14 months. Wasnt anything to do with the wife and i hasten to add.

Oh Isvara gave me what i wanted - the space to practice Vedanta. I lost all worldly possessions. And relationships. But I had snail mail with Ram, and Sundari. Sundari being my primary teacher. And of course Ram's books. The whole thing was pretty cool, extreme, but worthwhile. a 14 month retreat, centered on Vedanta.


All I can say is Wow! Ishvara really gave you just a gentle nudge ;). A truly inspiring story. Thanks for sharing that.

Wayne wrote: The point is, and it's a general one, not to you specifically Mira, that Isvara has laid out our lives, the way it currently is, for a reason. and it is our own purpose to practice it as we are able to. :)

Thanks for the reminder of this critically important point. Ultimately, life is all laid out, planned perfectly by Ishvara. Not a hair on one's head is out of place, not a single circumstance is random. Every cog has to be in place for the whole wheel of samsara to turn as beautifully as it does. And yet, the jiva feels it has free will to change things, it wants things to be different, it assumes by 'doing' it can make things happen. Yes indeed, Ishvara kindly provides us with personal mahabharatas so that, like Arjuna, we can also evolve in our spiritual quest.

Wayne wrote: I feel ones Svadharma can be fluid?

Well put! That's the jist of my (long winded) post in a nutshell! Our svadharma is fluid and changes with different phases of our life. I don't know that it's feasible to attain moksha in the householder phase. So best to wait until the renunciant phase enjoy moksha!
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby Tom » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:39 am

Hi Mira

Reading your post reminded me of this satsand I read the other day. I thought it was excellent:

http://www.shiningworld.com/site/satsang/read/3224

It reallyhighlights the benefit of self knowledge no matter what's physical or mental situations are going on in your life at the time.
What do you think?
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby Mira » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:35 pm

Hi Tom,
Thanks for that link. Its a great satsang. I agree with Isaac completely. However, I feel there might be a slight difference between not caring about one's own jiva and doing the same with jiva's that are dependent on you.

For example, if you have children and they get sick. Rationally you know that the awareness that you are and the awareness that they are is not affected. You know that they are just living out their prarabhdha karma. You know all this and yet your heart breaks and you suffer (or at least I do). So that deep attachment is very much there in the householder phase.

It occurs to me that as part of niddhidhyasa one might have to consciously renounce these attachments to family members. I don't mean abandon them or anything like that. But just dealing with the attachment issue before there is a crisis. If you have attachments you cannot be free, period. As an adult you can choose not to be consciously attached to your spouse or partner (even though you enjoy them). But this is very hard to do with a small child who is dependent on you. The Buddha had to leave his family to attain enlightenment and moksha. Just sayin' its hard to do with the apron strings still intact. And cutting the apron strings may not be the right dharma. You might have to see through the householder phase to the best of your ability first and then when your duties are over, then you move on to the moksha. But, nevertheless, as Isaac says you still have some degree of detachment in the householder phase because you can recognize the illusion for what it is even if you are caught up in it.

I heard a talk by Swami Paramarthananda recently where he describes benefits of self-knowledge (moksha?) for a householder (and I paraphrase). He says that ignorance is like riding in a car with no shock absorbers. You go over potholes and get totally rattled--shaken to the core. Having self-knowledge is like riding in a car with shock absorbers. You will still shake a bit, but not as much as before. So there is still suffering, but not as much, since you have the vedantic (self knowledge) framework to process that suffering.

Thanks again for that great satsang link.
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby Mira » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:35 pm

After much reflection, I think I have the answer to my own question!

The deep attachment to children (and other dependents) is a form of projection (i.e., rajas). And like with all rajasic tendencies it's best to convert them to sattva. And being sattvic, one will be a better parent or guardian in any case. And the best way to convert the rajas to sattva is by remaining in the 'present', so that the attachment projections aren't nurtured unduly and the jiva is aware of its true nature .

So moksha may be possible even as a householder with dependents--but it is hard work in this phase. But what else is worth doing with one's life other than nididhyasana? :D
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby georgschiller » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:05 pm

Beautiful discussion!
Yes, it is much easier with less wordly karma! I remember James talking about how he was willing and able to simply go away from wordly karma. This of course is not something everybody can do!
He also says that he always chooses sattva compared to Rajas/Tamas if he can.
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby kpitsim » Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:39 pm

Milarepa and Mira:

Have very much enjoyed the thread you have made together here. Mira you wrote:
But this basic level of moksha may not necessarily translate into a peaceful, sattvic, liberated existence for the jiva (which if we are honest, we, as spiritually-oriented jivas, all crave).

"To go beyond the default degree of moksha, you have to radically alter your life's circumstances. You have to drastically simplify your life-style, you have to vigilantly manage the gunas, you have to follow dharma to the letter. And this is very hard to do in certain phases of life. I'm not trying to make excuses for my jiva---but having a young child, having a career where people depend on me, having the life of a householder in general makes it very hard, if not impossible."

This really touched home for me. I happen to now be at a time where I can think about at least gradually retiring, liking going from 5 days to 4, or maybe even 3, and the importance of a sattvic liberated existence for the jiva is now the only consideration, since our children are full grown and independent.

I am glad that you (Mira) after further reflection, saw a greater possibility for moksha while still householder. There is a nice short esatsang of a note to James that can be founded by searching "attachment" which talks about the dissolution of attachment into Love. Obviously there is room to speak of healthy attachments I guess, so maybe it is harsh to say that all attachment must go. Maybe identification with the attachment needs to go, but healthy attachment has its proper place to play in the wheel of samsara.

In any event both you and Wayne clearly appreciate the importance of karma yoga during the householder stage, and it was good to hear both your comments on that.

Thanks again for the conversation.

Bob
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby Mira » Wed May 31, 2017 5:43 pm

Hi Bob and Georg,
Thanks for your comments and suggestions. Much appreciated.

I wanted to share something that I learned from an article written by Swami Paramarthanands which has helped me deal with my attachment (to family) issues.

In true Swamiji style, I've come up with my own acronym for the main content in the article: NoCoMaI (and no, its not the name of a Chinese food dish :lol:).

NO: Stands for NO. You can think of Gandhiji's non co-operation movement (when he told Indian's to just not co-operate with the British) or perhaps Nancy Regan's "Just say NO!" movement. Say a big fat NO to anxious, negative or fearful thoughts as they arise. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds--it takes practice.

CO: Stands for Courage. Swamiji says that Ishvara has certain attributes in infinite measure and one of them is courage. Given that we are Ishvara, then we have infinite courage too and we can deal with whatever comes our way. I find this notion so beautiful.

MA: Stands for Mamakara or attachment to family/friends. Swamiji calls mamakara a spiritual offense. This is because when we indulge in mamakara, we are taking over the role of Ishvara. We are saying that we want to control the lives of our loved ones. We are saying that we know what is best for them and not Ishvara. And this is a spiritual offense. By saying 'my' kids or 'my' spouse or 'my' grandkids you are effectively trespassing on Ishvara's property. And as Swamiji says (in his inimitable style) trespassers will be prosecuted! The prosecution includes anxiety, fear and stress--all consequences of mamakara (attachment). Make it a habit to declare to the Lord--that you own nothing. That your family belongs to Ishvara. All you can do is to serve them to the best of your ability.

I: Stands for the real "I" of course. In this step you give up even the mind and all its thoughts and attachments. You acknowledge that your mind belongs to Ishvara and you have no control over it. Let Ishvara do what it will with the mind.

And if the mind does not belong to you, then who are you? Of course, you are awareness :D. And you stay with that true "I".

Anyway, this is NoCoMAI--- the fear busting acronym that I have adapted from a wonderful article called "How to handle fear" By Swami Paramarthananda.
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby georgschiller » Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:21 am

Hi Mira,

I found your post helpful. I also came across many sources on how to deal with Samsara. I think there are two main ways to deal with it, 1. by renunciation, or pure discrimination and 2. the householder or embracing all emotions kind of way.

The first embraces a quiet lifestyle in which it is possible to contemplate about samsara and discriminate it away instantly. T
he other is more about transformation and I think means to fully embrace all emotions, including stress, aggression, etc. and turning it around into wanted emotions, such as love. I think the first way of doing things is more in line with Swamiji as you posted, and the second line might be more in line with Bhakti, original Tantric teachings, etc.

Of course, this is just an intellectual differentiation but it helped me :D

"While the yogi renunciates in order to know Shiva, the
tantric embraces the totality of life experiences knowing them to be
Shakti, the Divine Mother Herself. Not one aspect of life is shunned
away from – everything from the subtlest to the grossest experience
that arises is seen to be Her. The traditional practice of tantra lies
in the effective use of mantra (name) and yantra (form) to know the
nameless and formless Brahman. While Advaita Vedanta sees all of
creation to be an illusion, the tantrik (from the point of view of the
embodied jiva) sees creation to be very much real, a play of the
Divine Mother on the fabric of immutable consciousness that is the
Divine Father. Shakti is simultaneously seen as being benign and
beautiful as well as ferocious and terrible – there is no aspect of
creation that it is not Her. Tantra teaches one to see Her beauty and
to love Her in Her infinite forms no matter how depraved or heinous.
By expanding the limited mind beyond the dualities of good/bad,
beautiful/ugly, right/wrong, like/dislike, the tantric arrives at the
same place as the adept yogi or the Vedantin – Oneness; seeing that
Brahman is the nondual reality, in and through the mirage of duality."

http://kavithamd.com/sri-vidya-sadhana- ... d-vedanta/

I am one partless love and yet I share love with every body.

What do you think about that Mira? Do you understand what I mean? :o :?

Love, Georg :P
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby Mira » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:15 am

Hi Georg,
Greetings from the Holy Land! I had a business trip to the middle east and so I combined it with a family vacation. We are in Jerusalem this week and it is the epicenter of the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). And so I have been thinking of religion and spirituality a lot these days. And while I find it really interesting as a vacation destination, more than ever, I feel grateful for Vedanta and its clear logical conclusions on the nature of reality.

Thanks for your post. I found it very interesting. I also enjoyed the link you posted. I've heard of Tantra but I am not sure that I fully understand what Tantra is. Could you explain in a bit more detail? I would be interested to learn more about this sadhana.

Ultimately, I believe my path is that of discriminating and renunciation. Though, I wish there was a better word than renunciation. How can it be renunciation when you lose interest in the candle because you understand that you are the sun itself!

Bhakti makes total sense to me--since when you realize your true nature, there is such a strong feeling of love. Afterall, as you say, it is all love. But the bhakti can be towards nirguna brahman (without attributes) or saguna brahman (with attributes). Maybe that is the difference between the two paths you mention (i.e., the path of discrimination/renunciation is more bhakti focused towards nirguna brahman and embracing the world/tantra is bhakti towards saguna brahman). I'm only speculating of course. As you say, ultimately these distinctions are superfluous. There is only brahman, period.

One last observation: I was at the Holocaust museum this week and I can tell you that the only way to make sense of atrocities on that scale is by looking at it through the Vedantic lens. There is just no point trying to make any sense of the world at all--the only thing that makes sense is standing as the awareness that you are. It can be the only possible 'meaning' to one's life.

Thanks! Mira
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby kpitsim » Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:32 am

Mira and Georg:

Just read your posts and found them very enjoyable and helpful.

Mira you wrote:

I: Stands for the real "I" of course. In this step you give up even the mind and all its thoughts and attachments. You acknowledge that your mind belongs to Ishvara and you have no control over it. Let Ishvara do what it will with the mind.

The irony here is that in recognizing your helplessness in controlling the mind, you no longer are subject to its control. In other words you don't have to be able to control the mind, to be the master of it.

The other strong irony is that the Just say No part looks like absolutely controlling the thoughts in the mind through a negating thought of No.

Mira, I know you are well aware of these ironies, and I am now at a point where I just like to recognize ironies as part of the joy of living and understanding. So I do not see contradictions or difficulties in playing with these concepts as done above.

Finally, the article you cited about attachment brought up the question whether there can be attachment without a sense of ownership, and the answer on reflection for now, is No. The clear example for me on that is money. Whenever I have a sense of owning it, there is stress and anxiety even if subtle around it. It is less clear to me that any attachment to family means that you believe you know whats best for them, but it is probably true. I think this is possibly a semantic issue where we can define attachment as involving a sense of ownership, and healthy attachment as having no sense of ownership. I can honestly say that I do not have a sense of owning my wife or children,but would also say that I am not attached to them either. At least that what I feel now with all of them not suffering any gross difficulties.

Georg

The excerpt on the tantric and advaitic perspectives was really clear. Very helpful to see both tools as available.

Bob
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby georgschiller » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:21 pm

Hi Mira, Hi Kpitsim,

Mira wrote:Could you explain in a bit more detail? I would be interested to learn more about this sadhana.


I wish I could Mira but unfortunately, I don't really know much about it... The link I gave I think provides more knowledge in detail.

Mira wrote:There is just no point trying to make any sense of the world at all--the only thing that makes sense is standing as the awareness that you are. It can be the only possible 'meaning' to one's life.


Yes, definitely! There isn't really any sense in it.
Discrimination, seeing the impersonal causes and conditions that led to it and seeing the love that was behind it, even if misdirected, can help accepting it, I guess.
There is certainly no point to find personal explanations, it really just is one big show, sometimes nice, and sometimes gruel!
The idea of Gaia, of planet Earth as a living being, is the same. Gaia can be the greatest mum, full of love and compassion, but at some point she can be furious and just kill randomly in gruel ways and in big numbers...
:D all part of the game...

kpitsim wrote:The excerpt on the tantric and advaitic perspectives was really clear. Very helpful to see both tools as available.


Sure, I wish I could elaborate more on it but I don't think that would be fair for all the Tantrikas out there who probably would raise their eyebrows with me talking about it :D

kpitsim wrote:The other strong irony is that the Just say No part looks like absolutely controlling the thoughts in the mind through a negating thought of No.


That's an interesting point, if the mind says No, then... hmmm what then... good question. It can be a subtle identification with thoughts, controlling, beliefs, likes and dislikes, or it can just be irony. So yes, statements of saying No create just too easily misinterpretations...

kpitsim wrote:Finally, the article you cited about attachment brought up the question whether there can be attachment without a sense of ownership, and the answer on reflection for now, is No.


Another really good question. I also would say No. Any form of attachment is just the mind bending towards a certain object, leading to all kinds of problems further on. I rather don't attach to anything as it implies all kinds of subtle disturbances...

Great posts by you Mira and Kpitsim!!

Love,
Georg :)
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby kpitsim » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:11 am

Hi Georg:

Thanks for your comments to both our posts. Your comment on Mira post about the futility of trying to make sense of the world reminds me of somehow of what resonated with me when I studied Wittgenstein as an undergraduate philosophy student, something like "whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent". That trying to express in words the purpose or meaning of life is not possible, but that the "answer" is in no longer having the question or the need to express words about it. I guess it could be said to dissolve in the awareness that you are.

as to:

kpitsim wrote:
The other strong irony is that the Just say No part looks like absolutely controlling the thoughts in the mind through a negating thought of No.


That's an interesting point, if the mind says No, then... hmmm what then... good question. It can be a subtle identification with thoughts, controlling, beliefs, likes and dislikes, or it can just be irony. So yes, statements of saying No create just too easily misinterpretations...


I do not understand what you meant by "So yes, statements of saying No create just too easily misinterpretations...

Be interested in what comes after the ...

Best wishes,

Bob
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby georgschiller » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:33 am

Hi Bob,

I love Wittgenstein! Thank you for bringing him into the discussion :D :D

kpitsim wrote:
The other strong irony is that the Just say No part looks like absolutely controlling the thoughts in the mind through a negating thought of No.


I just meant that I agree with your statement above.
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Re: Is moksha really possible?

Postby kpitsim » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:14 am

Georg:

Nice to know you are also fond of Wittgenstein.

Bob
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