Search & Read
To Inquire You Need a Method
Sally: Hello, Ram. I will make this short. Since the mind has been all over the place from reading your emails there is this thing going on in the mind, avoidance to part of what you say. Okay, I will begin a series of writings to you in response to your responses. You have made it clear why I am to respond to your responses. I can accept that. Say whatever words you want to because whatever it takes, I’m committed to knowing Truth.
Ram: Good for you, Sally. It shows spunk. It is natural to avoid things we don’t want to hear.
The reason you should listen to what I have to say is that I don’t know you. We have no history. You’re in cyberspace and I’m in cyberspace. You can finish me off with a light tap on the “delete” button. So there is no reason for me to try to irritate you or put you down or ridicule you or make you feel small in any way. Talking to me is like talking to God – I am completely impartial – that is why what I say should be considered. I’m not saying to swallow my words hook, line and sinker. There is nothing in it for me if you accept or reject what I have to say. You’re not paying me for my time. If you want to send me a fat check every month I’ll tell you very wonderful things about yourself and there will be nothing to avoid, but this is not what is going on. What I’m saying is to think over what I have to say and if you think I’m off base then tell me. I’m very open-minded.
It doesn’t help much to respond only to the things you want to hear. In fact the things that are fine with your understanding are fine. It is only the things that cause you trouble that need to be looked at and discussed. Mind you, what I am saying is not an attack. I am questioning ideas that are not in harmony with your true nature – and that is all. If you can see the wisdom in what I say – which is only traditional non-dual Vedanta – then you can take it as your own.
Okay, so here are your responses to my responses. You say, “I want to know that light that you talk about, that light Ramana knew about.”
That light is called chaitanya (awareness, or consciousness) in Sanskrit. It is just simple awareness, that because of which you know and feel and experience things. It is not the things you experience but the awareness in which your experiences take place. When Ramana says that the spiritual quest is a quest to understand “who am I?,” the “I” he is referring to is awareness.
Sally: Can you explain chaitanya a little further in detail? Is it a light that is glowing or is it a light that brings clarification in what you are meaning, awareness in which your experiences take place? Then one would say a light? Is it both?
Ram: You are alive. You are aware. The “light” is just your awareness, not what you are aware of. It “glows” forever. There is no off switch. It does not glow more at one time and less at another. It is always the same. It is uncreated. This means that it is not caused by anything else. It is a self-generating, self-illumining light. There is nothing like it anywhere in the whole cosmos. It is conscious, unlike physical sources of light.
Sally is an idea that reflects awareness, like a mirror. Where do you get your intelligence from? From awareness. You did not make yourself aware. You cannot make yourself unaware. It is completely independent of you. But you are not independent of it. Without awareness you will not know anything. This is true for everybody. If you subtract all your ideas, emotions, feelings, fantasies, desires, imaginations, determinations and experiences from you, what do you have? You have pure awareness. After your balloon experience you said your mind was empty for a short time. The mind was gone, but you were not gone. You were there to report that the mind was gone. In deep sleep there is no Sally, but you do not stop existing. You know you experienced limitlessness and bliss. So this “light” is you. In the description of your dream you said, “I awoke two hours later and I was so excited because I had felt that I had experienced ‘it’ only to learn that I didn’t see any bright light or feel that it had changed me.”
The “light” that I am talking about is the “light” that illumined the dream itself. Your eyes were not open when you were dreaming, so no light could get in to illumine the events in your dream. How did you know what was happening if there was no light there? “Light” is only a symbol of awareness. When you investigate awareness, your self, you will discover that it is limitless and complete. It is a partless whole. If you can identify with it your desire to have things different will go away.
As I said in an earlier email, this may be too much for you and you may have understand Sally better and learn to love her for what she is before you can identify with awareness. This may involve some kind of therapy. I don’t think it is impossible, because you are very intelligent and very spiritual, but you have picked up a lot ideas that are floating around in the spiritual world that pass for wisdom but are really like poison. So progress depends on how attached you are to your beliefs.
Sally: I thought the question of “who am I?” was a process leading to an end result. That some part of me had to be doing something. Now I am wondering if this quest to understand awareness is something that one finally achieves. Okay, this is making me feel somewhat uncomfortable because I thought I knew something but this taking everything down and making me see it in a new light, I don’t know if I know just what this is.
Ram: Well, it is a process. You ask questions to get answers. It so happens, however, that the answer is already known. You are awareness. The process lies in investigating this theory. To make an investigation you need a method and you need knowledge about how to use that method. So the first step is to find out what you are going to investigate and then learn to use the tools that you need to make the investigation. You can discover who you are but it is not easy because of all the preconceived ideas you bring to your search, ideas that you picked up that caused you to pursue experience without asking to whom do these experiences occur.
Usually when people are sick they go to the doctor. This is because they don’t know the proper medicine. But in the spiritual world everyone is basically self-medicated; they pick up this idea here and that idea there and they try it out and it works for while and they keep it around in the medicine cabinet of their mind for future use. Eventually, they have tried so many medicines and have accumulated so many ideas that they have the “seeking enlightenment” sickness added on top of the original malady. If this is the case then we throw out the whole medicine chest and start over.
Sally: What I want to be is peaceful and happy. I want to know somehow that this is REAL.
I don’t know yet how I will know. I haven’t found happiness yet. So when you mean it is not the things I experience, you are telling me that it is not emotions, feelings, actions or thoughts?
Ram: I understand your desire to be happy. And your desire to know something that is real is right on. But what makes this hard is that nothing that you can see with your eyes or feel with your emotions is real. What is real is you, awareness. Yes, I am telling you that it is not emotions, feelings, actions and thoughts. They are not real, because they do not last. “Real” means what lasts, what never changes. Think about your life. So many emotions and experiences and thoughts and they are all gone now. But you were there all along observing them. So you are real, you keep on going on and everything comes into your awareness, stays for a few moments and then goes away. How real can these things be?
Sally: Okay, I read the words “I am limitless, non-dual, actionless awareness.” How do I experience this as Truth for myself? So how do I look carefully into Sally? What does that mean, “look carefully”?
Ram: Read the third paragraph back. First you need to be convinced that you need a method to investigate yourself. The method I teach is thousands of years old. It works. It is still good today. It set me free. The “careful looking” means that you need to assimilate the knowledge of those people who have made successful investigations. The record of their seeking and finding is preserved in the scriptures. Once it is clear how to seek then you begin seeking. You cannot just read a book or go to a satsang or meditation and expect to come away with the secret of self-inquiry. It needs to be taught to you.
Sally: I thought it was being quiet and the mind being still?
Ram: Getting a quiet mind is definitely a prerequisite. You can’t make an inquiry when your mind is disturbed. It doesn’t work. You seem to me to have a tendency to anger and depression. You can’t investigate yourself when you are feeling these emotions. So the first tool you need is a quiet mind. This means that your life should be in order. When it is in order and your mind is quiet then you can make a steady investigation. Even if there are moments of insight – as there are from time to time – the knowledge you get disappears with the next wave of emotion. And you end up frustrated. The spiritual world is full of frustrated people who have their experiences of non-duality and transcendence but then are rudely thrust back into their chaotic minds. I just got an email from a fellow I met in Tiruvannamalai who said he had got enlightened 500 times!
Sally: What does that feel like or how would I know if I ever get the mind still?
Ram: You know it because it feels good. Your life sorts itself out when your mind is quiet. The more you remove the sources of agitation – your attachments, etc. – the better you feel. It takes time. You can’t just sit down and meditate and expect the peace to last unless you have a program in place for cleaning and clearing the mind.
Sally: How will I know that I know I am awareness?
Ram: When the mind is quiet you notice awareness shining in it. And you will become fascinated and fix your attention on it because it is so beautiful. Then you will start to think about what you are experiencing and how it relates to the one who is experiencing it. Eventually you will see clearly that it is not someone or something else.
Sally: I am kind of pissed off right now. Okay, so if this is so important, why isn’t AWARENESS something that is so clear to me?
Ram: Because you’re pissed off. Your attention is going into your feelings and not into the self. How can you think clearly when you are in a state of emotion?
Sally: Why did I search in so many things? WHY, WHY, WHY? Why all this pain searching for happiness? Why even be in a body, and a damn body with a mind? Okay, I want to know, why be here on earth? Why be here? Just answer that question for me. I knew at a young age I was never, NEVER coming back to life as we know it here. I was fed up with everything and angry at a very young age.
Ram: You seek because you are angry and anger does not feel good. I might suggest that you investigate your anger if you can. Try to trace it to its source. Behind every emotion peaceful, non-dual awareness rests. It is the essence of every experience. If you can find it you will conquer your anger.
If you can’t do that then you have to figure out why you think you’re so important that you are willing to waste so much energy on anger when it doesn’t produce the results you want. It’s just a bad habit and it has become part of your identity. If your anger is serving you then be angry. But it isn’t. You hate it. Vedanta says that anger is just obstructed desire. You don’t get what you want and you get pissed off. When you get pissed off you become deluded. When you are deluded you lose your discrimination. When you lose your discrimination you make bad choices. When you make bad choices you suffer. When you suffer you get angry because you think you deserve better. It is like this.
~ Love, Ram