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The Low-down on Vasanas
Cathy: Hi, Ram. I was looking at another of your Self Realization DVDs and that chart you have up (I would love a copy of it to put up on my wall) is very interesting. Between the self and the bodies there are the vasanas. So the more vasanas, the more darkness; the fewer vasanas, the more clarity (of the self). So the object of study, it seems to me, are the vasanas, as they are the ones causing the darkness.
Ram: For all intents and purposes, yes. But it is not the vasanas per se, because there are many good vasanas. It is attachment to the belief that acting out a vasana can produce happiness. Yes, if you act out a helpful vasana it will produce a pleasant experience and this will have a beneficial effect on the mind. But the effect will not last. And if you act out an unhelpful vasana it will agitate the mind. Of course, this will not last either. You will only act out a vasana if you think it will benefit you in some way. But since there is no lasting happiness in vasana-generated experiences, it is a waste of time to act out your vasanas.
Implicit in this situation is the understanding that you are free to act them out or not. A binding vasana is one that you cannot help but act out. You have no choice. It is on you without warning and you find yourself doing something or saying something that may cause unwanted karma. If you do not act out a vasana – a helpful one or an unhelpful one – you will not have the experience that the vasana is about to produce. If you have a vasana – a desire – for sex and you have sex, there are consequences, sometimes good and sometimes bad. If you have a vasana but you do not have sex, the only consequence is that you will feel frustrated until the vasana leaves your mind. And you will have reduced the pressure of the sex vasana a bit because you did not reinforce it by having sex.
If you only act out the vasanas that are necessary to maintain life – food, clothing, shelter, etc. and forgo gratuitous vasanas – entertainment, self-improvement, power, etc. – your mind will become very peaceful and introverted, and inquiry will happen automatically. If you develop the vasana for inquiry and you have the good fortune to have a teacher who can, with the aid of scripture, help you, you will get self-knowledge, that is to say, your ignorance of who you are will be removed. This leads to the second issue that your email brings up.
In fact the vasanas do not cause the darkness. You have it backwards. Darkness, ignorance of the nature of the self, causes the vasanas. You cannot remove darkness by action, unless that action is inquiry. You can only remove ignorance by knowledge, i.e. understanding. What is that understanding? That the self is whole and complete. You neutralize the vasanas in one go when you get that. If you think the self is incomplete, you will keep generating vasanas.
Cathy: My computer has been attacked by a virus that I can’t seem to get rid of, but I guess that is the nature of viruses, right? The same as vasanas, they have their nature. So when John and I argue, it is really the vasanas that are arguing. The selves (self) cannot argue. And the reason why it is so hard for John and I to get on is that our vasanas are so different and they are all fighting for survival. Is this correct? And when I am with him my vasanas get stirred up by his vasanas and vice versa. Right?
Ram: Got it in one, Cathy. A gold star for you. Go to the head of the class! You are now the official teacher’s pet.
Cathy: I am spending a peaceful Christmas day by my self, listening to your DVDs and contemplating the truth; it can’t get better than that!
Ram: Good for you, Cathy. Merry Xmas.