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A Bad Attitude
James: Dear Terry, here is what you need to know. Moksa, which is what you are seeking, is the discrimination between the subject, awareness (you), and the objects appearing in you. Terry is an object known to you. He is not you. Therefore everything that belongs to Terry is not real. Terry thinks he is confused about something in the world of objects (the not-self) but he is confused about who he is. If your self-knowledge is firm you will not confuse yourself with Terry. Your self-knowledge is not firm because you are identified with Terry. There is no solution for Terry’s problems because Terry is not real. He is just an idea. So your job is to objectify Terry on a moment-to-moment basis until you have broken your attachment to him.
If you cannot understand this then you need to prepare yourself to understand it by solving Terry’s problem. I was willing to help Terry solve his problem but he did not accept what I had to say. He was not willing to forget the past. He wanted to bring it up to convince me (and especially) himself that he was right. He wanted to justify his present feelings with reference to the conflict he imagined that we had. I had no problem with you. I was surprised that you were behaving in a strange way – not communicating properly, arguing with me, subtle criticizing me. I could not understand your problem. But I forgot it. I have many people in my life and you are just one of them, and if someone does not show respect I forget them and associate with those who do.
There is no connection between what happened yesterday and who you are. There is no connection between me and what you think of me. The thoughts and feelings you have about me are thoughts and feelings you have about you. As you think they belong to me you want me to resolve them but they do not belong to me. They belong to you. You need to resolve them with reference to the self. I always treated you in a friendly way. I encouraged you.
Although you once did, it seems you no longer have sympathy for me. If you want me to help you have to have a humble attitude. It is not right for you to argue with me and judge me. When you wrote I said let’s start fresh, no talk about what happened. I said let’s get on with your needs now. I said ask your question and I will try to answer it. But you went right back to what happened years ago. I would go crazy if I had to worry about solving someone’s personal problem. You do not understand what a teacher actually is in our tradition.
But you hung on to the issue and became obsessed with it and wanted to go over it again to see if you could make yourself right and me wrong. You want to win. You do not care if you are happy. You could have let it go, as I did. I feel sorry that you have to live with such an unforgiving mind.
There is never an argument as far as I am concerned. Either you understand what is being said or you don’t. If I spoke to Swamiji like you do to me he would have refused to speak with me. I refuse to speak with you. Your attitude is disrespectful. Of course you do not agree. You are so wrapped up in your side of this imaginary story that you probably can’t even see how your last letter was so inappropriate.
But as you read this you are saying that I am wrong, that you really do respect me. But you do not respect me. You think there is something wrong with me as a teacher because you have a very grandiose idea of enlightened beings. There is nothing wrong with me as a teacher. I have relationships with scores of people and only two or three a year end up having a problem with me. The rest respect me. Some absolutely adore me.
Read the testimonials at the website. Many people are set free by Vedanta as I teach it. Many understand Vedanta sadhana. You are superimposing your judgments on the me in your mind. I am only IN YOUR MIND. Your problem is with the idea of me, not with me. You have confused yourself. What is bothering you has nothing to do with me. And what is doubly silly is that you come to the very person that you have doubts about to remove your doubts! How ridiculous is that? I cannot help you. I don’t want to help you. You are a very self-indulgent, spoiled person overwhelmed by a sense of entitlement.
You have been listening to your story and have been completely hypnotized by Terry and his sad story, the story of someone who is always right. You think you are superior to meat-eaters because you are a vegetarian. You think you are superior to samsaris because you think you are enlightened. Somehow you always have to come out on top. Why? Because you do not feel like you are on top, not that there is a top to be on. You feel small and rather than accept that feeling you want to replace it with the feeling that you are big. It does not work that way.
When you think you are right you have to think that someone or something else has to be wrong. There is nothing right or wrong. Truth is beyond dharma and adharma. If you respected the tradition and took me as a teacher, not as the person that you project, you would have accepted my conditions for a renewed relationship. You say you respect the tradition but you do not respect the tradition because the tradition is made up of people like me. We have our quirks. I never pretend to be holy. We are all just people upholding the knowledge.
At the root of this whole issue is that you do not love Terry properly. There is nothing wrong with him. Love means that you accept him totally in all his vanity, arrogance, frailty and confusion. You are happy with him because he is Isvara’s gift to you. You will say that I do not accept you and you will be both right and wrong. I don’t accept the person that you present to me. If I did not accept you I would not be writing this letter.
This letter does not mean that I do not love you. This letter means that I cannot teach you in your present state of mind. If you get clarity and humility, not the false humility that is Terry’s stock in trade, you can come to one of my seminars next year and talk with me if you wish. The time for us to communicate in understanding is not now.
~ Love, James