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No Mind Means No World?
Adrian: Hi, James. It was nice chatting with you via Gmail yesterday. I’m back with a few tidbits of ignorance.
James: Good. Let’s tidy them up.
Adrian: So everything in the universe is awareness. I know this. Without these bodies of ours, however, including animals and such, would there be a universe?
James: There is no way to tell, if there is no instrument of knowledge like the senses or the mind. If by “universe” you mean the physical universe, the answer is yes and no. No, if the macrocosmic vasanas are in their sleep state. This is called pralaya, dissolution. What happens to us on an individual level every day happens to the universe on a macrocosmic level every several gazillion years. The question can only be answered if we ask for whom. For the self there never is a universe, and if maya is operating, the self knows that the universe is just a projection of ignorance. It is an apparent universe. Is an apparent universe a real universe? Only for the apparently conscious beings in it. But if the apparently conscious beings are asleep, there is no universe for them.
Adrian: The body is a tool so that the self can experience itself, but without the body, what is there?
James: The subtle and causal bodies and the self. If “body” means all three bodies, the answer is awareness, the self.
Adrian: Objects aren’t sentient, they rely on bodies with senses, which rely on awareness, for their existence. Without any sentient beings, would there be anything at all? And by “anything” I mean objects. Would there just be a deep-sleep-like state?
James: Good thinking. I covered this above. Yes, there would be a deep sleep state, but no objects and perceivers of objects.
Adrian: I just remembered that the objects rely on awareness but awareness is free of objects. Without any objects, would there just be a sort of indescribable field of awareness?
Adrian: Because awareness is subtler than perception, I guess we can’t truly know that answer, but are there theories?
James: You can perceive it, although “perceive” is not exactly the right word, because it implies duality. Awareness is aware of itself, so when you know yourself as awareness, you see how you do not need a body or a mind to know who you are. And you know that you are unborn, limitless and the only thing that is. If maya is operating, you see the bodies and the objects as you would see images on a screen or reflections in a mirror. But the universe would not obstruct your self-knowing, because it is only capable of covering a tiny fraction of the self.
Adrian: I know for sure that I am awareness, but what about the vasanas? Will they play out on their own?
James: Good for you! It makes me very happy to see Vedanta do its job. Yes, the vasanas will play out on their own. It is the belief that “the little me is real” that keeps them recycling. They will be easy to manage from now on.
Adrian: Dear Ram, long time no speak! I hope you are doing well.
“I” left this morning. Or rather I realised that little me was never real. It’s funny how humans insist on completely identifying with a limited role. Funny and nonsensical. I guess I’m free now. ☺
I don’t really know what else I could do on this spiritual path, as only little me would benefit from any sort of action in the first place. Obviously, there are still vasanas that need to be sorted out, but I have a feeling it will be easier now that I know that I’m never upset or stressed, just the role I’ve been playing for so long is upset.
I guess my question now is: Why on earth are we conditioned to play these silly roles? And why is everyone so ignorant of such an obvious truth? We get so lost in our concepts that we forget concepts are just concepts! I would assume that more people would see through the ego. I guess if the ego is all you know though, there’s not much point in searching for the self, as for them the ego is the self. I finally understand when you say that humans believe they are limited. It all seems a bit ridiculous now, and to be honest, I’m embarassed at how seriously I’ve taken the ego in the past.
All there is left to say now is thank you. I would not have made it without your emails, website and book.
~ Love, Adrian
Ram: As far as the “silly roles” question, there are a couple of answers, one a bit fanciful, the other more sensible. The first is the lila theory. It means that the self was bored just being “the one without a second.” It wanted a bit of excitement, so it decided to create the worlds and then it assumed the costume of an individual, like an actor puts on a costume and plays a role, and as such it eternally sports in duality. It’s a nice, happy theory, popular with the “celebrate life” crowd. The other is the maya theory favored by more serious types. You now know that there is no maya, but for individuals who have not realized the nature of the self and seen that the little me is unreal, it is seemingly unknown. Again, as with the lila theory, it is a bit ridiculous from the self’s point of view because how can the eternally self-aware self forget what it is? But it apparently does forget, in that forgetting the worlds are born and the self pretends that it does not know what it is, and because not knowing is painful, it struggles to rediscover itself. Voila, enlightenment!
But the real reason is that there is no reason. It is just how things are.
Anyway, if there are any other little tidbits of ignorance that need sorting, feel free to write. It is silly to say it, but God bless you, Adrian.
~ All the best, Ram