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The Self Shines on Every Thought
Jennifer: When it says in the scriptures “free” from duality, it doesn’t mean the absence of duality in the mind, right?… but free from “dwelling” in duality, rather dwelling as the self.
Ram: The mind has a tendency to see things dualistically. It takes a long time for that tendency to physically disappear, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be neutralized by understanding when it arises in the form of a thought or emotion. The fears and desires, likes and dislikes, are duality – opposite or conflicting impulses. If by “dwelling in duality” you mean identifying with it, yes. Understanding means that you know that these conflicting impulses are not real, so you don’t let them bind you. On one side, the mind likes X, on the other, it doesn’t. The problem is identifying with one impulse at one time and the opposite at another. This causes confusion.
When you don’t see from the self there is a sense of two selves or a conflict between two parts of the self. But there is no contradiction in fact – because you are not the mind. Remembering that you are not the mind is what is required. This is why one needs a peaceful lifestyle – so one can stay alert and keep the thought that one is whole and complete, that things are always perfect, that confusion, desire, fear, etc. are never warranted and not to be taken seriously, etc. in the forefront rather than the background of one’s consciousness. Rajas is distracting, so you don’t notice when your identification with the mind takes place.
Jennifer: I was also thinking about what it means to “purify the mind.” Does that mean shining the truth of the self on every thought so that each thought is transformed, knowing you are the self that has no “content” – thus already have a “pure” mind?
Ram: Yes. This is an excellent statement. It is absolutely true. The thoughts have no power to bind when you identify with their illuminator, the knower. When you say or think “I,” what does this word actually refer to? Is there something substantial there, like a tree or a house, that you can identify as an I? When you actually think about what “I” is you can only find a collection of memories associated with certain past events, events that only seem meaningful because they are connected to an “I.” But is that “I” there? Who is Jennifer Talbot? Can you actually figure out who she is and put it down in clear, concise language?
And the real “I” that knows them? What is that? Is it some thing? Can you find a beginning and an end to it so you can describe it? It has no form, no boundaries. You cannot locate it at a certain place, like you can the body. When you understand this you see that you are free, pure. Impurities – thoughts and feelings – come up and disappear – but they do not touch you. Where is that confusion and fear about being intimate now? If it were real it would be there all the time. You could not escape it. It would never allow the opposite to exist or its non-existence to occur. It would just sit there all day long like a big rock, never moving.