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The Startling, Smooth Experience of Knowing
Steve: Dear Ram, I discovered your website about three weeks ago and am devouring what you wrote there, as well as your book. I really resonate with what you say. Seeking for me has been intermittent over the past 25 years. The experiences and practices in that time have been necessary for me to appreciate what you say. What you say about Yoga versus Vedanta (experience versus knowledge) and about purification, vasanas and karma yoga is like a cool drink on a hot day, just what I was looking for.
I decided about four months ago that my “problem” was vasanas. I kept finding myself falling off the spiritual wagon. I decided (or was made to decide) that I needed to purify my vasanas before trying to “do” more spirituality. Eventually I was led to you. What you say about vasanas and the causal body is the clearest and best thing I have ever read about the topic.
I feel like I have been having little glimpses of something in the past few days… these are not mind-blowing ecstasies at all, they are almost not noticeable. These little glimpses have to do with the distinction you describe between doing and knowledge. The experience (the experience of knowledge??) is almost startling, except that the “feeling” is very smooth, like a person who makes no sound walking across a wood floor. I can’t say a lot more than that, I am just reporting something that I would not even have noticed had I not read your writing. It is sort of like hearing the nada sound in sitting. I had never noticed it before, then read a book that describes it, and now it is obviously ever-present, though I do not always notice it. But the nada sound is just a perception, a gross sound. The “experience of knowledge” glimpses I refer to are “I,” my identity, who I think I am, not something I am seeing or hearing or sensing. It’s almost unsettling.
So of course I want it more and faster. ☺ I don’t want to get too excited, but I am nonetheless.
Ram: Dear Steve, it is so gratifying to hear that the book is having such a positive impact. I particularly liked your phrase “the experience of knowing” and your description of it as feeling startling but very smooth, like person walking barefoot across a wood floor. Beautiful! That is how it is: the sound of silence, one hand clapping or stillness speaking. Good for you.
Steve: I haven’t formulated a question yet, but I wanted to write to express my gratitude for your clarity of exposition and your generosity with sharing your knowledge. I look forward to speaking with you and possibly meeting you, but I don’t think I am leaving the US anytime soon, and it doesn’t look like you are scheduled to come here in the near future.
James: Yes, these are glimpses of your identity. It is coming to the forefront after being hidden for so long. It is God’s grace, the result of excellent merit. It is nice to be “unsettled” in this way. Make the karma yoga attitude steady and the vasanas will burn up quickly. The silence will then roar like it does on the great plains in the dead of night.
Yes, I will not be back to the States until the spring. I will be on the East Coast then. Maybe we can meet. It would be a pleasure. Write anytime. When I get back to civilization (I am now on retreat in Turkey) we can have a Skype chat if you wish.
~ All the best, James