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YOU Are the Track
Paula: Hi, Sundari. Thank you for thinking of me and sending this email. I have thought about your last email a lot. In it you said that all I have to say is, “That is me,” when I say that anger, joy, the world, life, whatever, flows out of and back into me… and yet there are a few lingering doubts…
Sundari: After realisation you know that you are the truth (satya) in the apparent reality (mithya), that everything is you and therefore everything takes place in YOU, awareness, but at the same time that you are free of it. Actually nothing takes place “in” you, as there is no “in or out” of awareness. It is more accurate to say that everything “takes place” within the scope of awareness – not that anything is actually taking place! So you have no problem with whatever the ego – ergo Paula – is feeling, thinking, doing or what is happening “in the world.” The world is in Paula, her vasanas are neutralised and the doer negated, so she will no longer be projecting her dream onto Isvara. Isvara’s creation (srsti) continues and all objects are then seen for what they are – and Paula can enjoy it all as the play it is. When you truly see it all as you, the self, real love is possible for the first time – and love loves through you – as you.
Paula: I read your email this morning and began to contemplate… and it all seems almost too silly and simple when I inquire… if I am on the right track, that is: I thought about how there appears to be two selves in me. One is the known (reflected awareness), the subject and objects. This self is fickle, an amalgam, dependent on others for its existence, insentient and objectifiable, among other things. It is Paula, her relationship to herself and the world.
Then there is the changeless one in me (pure awareness).
Sundari: I get what you are saying here, but it sounds wrong. Paula, who is always changing, is in the changeless one, pure awareness, not the other way around.
Paula: It is always there, it is, it is conscious and consciousness.
Sundari: Yes, (it) you, the self – are self-aware, self-illuminating, always present – unchanging, whole and complete.
Paula: There have been trillions of thoughts, millions of experiences and countless identities… but this changeless one has survived unscathed and is always available when I investigate this self further.
Sundari: This should read: “When I investigate the self, i.e. ME, further.”
Paula: I think about how it’s unobjectifiable, “felt,” reached at only by knowledge, not defined with reference to objects and is the knower of the experienced, reflected self, i.e. Paula. This knower/pure awareness is beyond everything and yet is nearer than my deepest desires. This of course is maya – that which makes the impossible possible.
Sundari: Yes, this is correct, except the last sentence, although accurate, is confusing. Which part of your previous statements does it refer to?
Paula: I inquired more. So which of the two selves am I? There can’t be two real selves.
Sundari: The self, pure consciousness, is the knower of the reflected self. There is only one self, pure consciousness, and everything dissolves into it. Pure consciousness is the light that shines on the subtle body, giving it the appearance of existence.
Paula: Who/what is the source of the experienced/reflected self?
Sundari: The reflected self is awareness under the spell of ignorance. As you know and we have discussed before, ignorance is a shakti in awareness, it is beginingless and eternal. It appears as the world when Isvara is operating maya, i.e. ignorance.
Paula: It can’t be the cause and the knower/pure awareness the effect. This is so because the ego/subtle body is limited and not available all the time, i.e. the three states of being. Am I the waker, sleeper or dreamer?
Sundari: You are the knower of the waker, dreamer, sleeper.
Paula: The limited self surely cannot be the cause of the limitless self, like how an eternal wave cannot come from an ocean that is sometimes there and sometimes not.
Sundari: Correct. The wave/subtle body (mithya) is sometimes there and sometimes not. The ocean/awareness (satya) is always there. A limited entity, the subtle body, cannot be the cause of the limitless, as the effect cannot give rise to the cause.
Paula: It must be then that the knower is the source of the known. Both are in me, but only one is real. So enlightenment is the understanding that everything – because the world is just a thought in my mind (and the mind is non-separate from awareness) – depends on the knower/unchanging one/pure awareness. Therefore enlightenment is knowing that the body/mind/intellect/ego/Paula’s reality is non-separate from the whole and is the whole in a form, like a wave in the ocean?
Paula: Enlightenment is for the known self because the knower always knows itself, regardless of whether the mind is aware of it or not (which is why I know if the mind was or wasn’t aware of myself). If enlightenment is the recognition that the known, small self gets all of its reality from the knower/pure awareness/the as-though-conditioned-I within me, then there isn’t shit to be done about anything. If that unchanging, close, “felt” self is pure consciousness and permeates all that is known, then what is there to do? Nothing can touch the unchanging knower. And… I’ve been that the entire time!
Sundari: Yes, indeed. You, awareness, are actionless, whole and complete. Although “doing” continues for the doer, the ego – Paula being no longer identified with the objects, then knows that as she is not the doer, it is all Isvara’s dream, and although the dream apparently exists, it is not real.
Here is a great poem by favourite poet T.S. Elliot, called Little Gidding, that sums this up:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always –
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
Paula: James speaks a lot of how the experience of enlightenment is “the hard and fast knowledge that I am unborn, non-dual, ordinary, actionless awareness.” He says that this hard and fast knowledge feels like a shift in experience – where the self is now taken to be the subject, as opposed to the object.
Sundari: Correct. It is the shift from the ego trying to experience the self to the knowledge that it has always been the other way around – i.e. the self “experiences” the ego. Awareness does not actually experience anything, it is the “experienceless experiencer,” but when the light of awareness shines on the subtle body it seems that way. The self is the knower of the experience and the experiencer.
Paula: …and that this hard and fast knowing neutralizes vasanas.
Sundari: Correct – and it negates the doer.
Paula: Is this the akhandara vritti? I haven’t had that and want it. Perhaps this is a lingering desire for experience? Perhaps I’m on the right track…?
Sundari: No, the other way around. The akhandakara vritti, which is simply the cognition, “I am limitless awareness,” is what causes this shift. From the way I see things, you have already undrstood the akhandakara vritti or none of the above knowledge could have taken place. The knowledge causes the shift, and though it “feels” like an experience, it is not. It is the aelf that is reflected in a pure sattvic mind by the light of awareness shining on it.
And you are definitely “on the right track” – in fact you are THE track!
Paula: With love (and thank you for reading the rant ☺).
Sundari: Always a pleasure to hear from you! We thought of you this morning, and I thought I would forward this email to you. It is from a man who met James for the first time last year.
“I cannot even begin to formulate the gratitude that I feel towards you, towards Vedanta. I just woke up, I am lying in bed and I am whole. And, at least for me, the “click” was also driven by the realization that not only I am all right but that also the apparent “not-I” is all right. The teaching on the “not-I,” the “not-self,” was really essential. To quench the thirst of the ever-doubting and questioning intellect who wants to understand the whole of existence, that is what Vedanta can provide. And after having searched in so many spiritual and also scientific directions, there was no other body of knowledge that was able to do that. Enlightenment is simply for the intellect, knowing who I really am without a doubt. It is not some esoterical, mumbo jumbo, magical transformation. I have never been enlightened, do not need to be enlightened, have nothing to do with enlightenment. Enlightenment is in maya. I am, and I am the only thing that is.”