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Confusing Reflected Awareness with God
Peggy: Talking of bliss, I happened to work on a chant on ananda with my group this morning. I love and will use your quote that “Bliss is a sense of authenticity, wholeness and peace that emanates from the understanding that ‘I am whole and complete.’” I will read this out to them this evening. But is this ananta, not ananda, and where does this confusion come from? Which word should teachers like me use? I am also going to use the meditation from your book with them tonight.
Ramji: When you realize you are limitless (ananta), this knowledge translates into very positive emotions, hence “experiential bliss” (ananda).
Peggy: Anyhow, I was thinking I wouldn’t ask any more questions or bother you for a bit, but these pesky questions keep coming and also I wanted to comment on a couple of things in your last email. Firstly, thank you very much for what you sent on “emptiness.” It wasn’t that I understood it, but it makes sense in regards to the dropping away of identifications of the personality. Thank you. Thank you also for the email on “moksa.” It really is a switch in perspective, isn’t it?
Ram: That’s all. Everything is already only the self. You just need to see that the point of view from which Vedanta describes reality is true.
Peggy: Last night I puzzled about that being “That” – totally present, but also aware. Actually, I don’t think I was aware – it was beyond that. I can’t put this very well…
Ram: The “being totally present” is, as you probably can see, not the right way to see it. You are always totally present. The mind may wander here and there, but you are always “totally present.” No doing is involved. But you are starting to get the distinction between awareness and reflected awareness, the subtle body. Until now, you have been confusing the two.
Peggy: In a previous email in response to a query on reality, you said that you saw, as awareness, through everyone, that you knew everyone. So my question is: If (God willing) I make the “switch” to awareness, will awareness still be limited to Peggy’s perception and senses? I presume so, but isn’t this the case for your Great Ram self too?
Ram: Yes, but no. Yes, if you associate awareness with a particular body; no, if you don’t. Your doubt – which is very common – is a confusion between the individual (jiva) and God (Isvara). A jivan mukta, a liberated person, is not Isvara (God) who has the totality of knowledge and experience. He or she (it is a wrong formulation, actually, because there are no realized souls – only awareness) is beyond all manifestation, subtle and gross. But he or she may have certain siddhis (powers), like you. You have the humor siddhi. You can generate it almost at will and work it on other minds. It is quite a rare gift and you have evolved it to a very high level. Another example is a doctor who may have a cancer siddhi. That is, without even making any tests, he or she may know that the person has cancer. He will do the tests just to confirm it for the patient. Quite a few siddhis operate through the Ram body-mind, but it means nothing to Ram. It is not a matter of Ram’s will, although if I concentrate on something properly, the knowledge comes and with it the power to change it.
Peggy: You implied in another email that as awareness you are not limited to Ram’s senses. Are you saying that you can see/perceive through others’ senses?
Ram: Can and do. “Can” means that it is a power in me that sometimes becomes active and sometimes not. “Do” is self-explanatory. If I am the self, I see through all conscious beings.
Peggy: And who is perceiving? Okay, awareness – but how does this affect what the Ram-person can perceive?
Ram: It does not affect it. The Ram-person, as you so quaintly put it, is just a bunch of vasanas that are impervious to awareness. They are in a different order of reality.
Peggy: There have been several occasions indeed when things have happened via email or dreams that have made me wonder about what you are picking up from me or even sending – and some coincidences. But then I actually do find that a bit spooky and have not even been sure about asking about it, so now maybe is the time. Of course there is always a connection, one hopes, between student and teacher, and I am very grateful and blessed to have one with you.
This is a non-dual reality. But what are you able to perceive as the Ram-person? I know this is also awareness, but do you know, as a person, what you are picking up through others?
Ram: I am not really a person, Peggy. I seem to be a person. The answer is that I know everything that the “Ram-person” perceives because the Ram-person totally depends on me. He is not somebody else. He is me, but I am not him.
Peggy: Sometimes I have a specific comment or question which you then answer before I ask it – although that could be logical progression of learning of course. As awareness – I accept that it is everything – but as awareness reflected in the Ram-person – is that limited to his field of perception or is he able to pick up more, like what I might be thinking or about to write?
Ram: It is both limited to his field of perception and he is able to pick up more, but not as much as Isvara. As a Ram-person I have quite a few siddhis, but not all siddhis. But you are right about one thing: the logical progression of the teaching. It sets up a certain situation that causes certain questions and this provokes questions, which in turn give rise to the answers. There is really only one human person we ever address the teachings to. All of Peggy’s personal questions are really just universal human questions – when you subtract the person’s specific situation and the idiosyncratic way the doubt is expressed.
Peggy: Patanjali talks about siddhis – that one shouldn’t be distracted by them but are they a “side effect” of self-realization?
Ram: If you think you are a person you will have ignorance, and this means that you will want things in the world and you will use whatever powers you have to achieve them. If you want moksa, desire for anything in samsara is an impediment. Yes, they come as a result of a mind that is settled. It is not a personal thing at all. They do not belong to the apparent person, although that is how it may seem to those who do not understand.
Peggy: You say that dreams are powerful – I know this – but how is the self “sending” them if it is actionless and impartial? Likewise our thoughts – you have implied in the past that the self prompts these – yet isn’t it something (or nothing) that is neutral? I have some experience in dream analysis – because of psychology (did a year at university) – and I can usually work them out myself, as often it is often obvious. But I guess it is the “goal” of the self to wake up to itself, so symbols would relate to that.
Ram: “Sending” is an unfortunate word. The self is sending everything. I was pretending that you were an experiencing entity. For the experiencing entity, everything – subjective and objective – is “sent,” meaning that it comes from elsewhere. But yes, it is all the self doing everything.
Peggy: You said that you are pursuing a “romantic interest.” Isn’t this a contradiction? I thought you let things come to you. I thought the point in life once one is realized was to be passive rather than proactive. Actionless?
Ram: Right, but wrong. As awareness, there is no coming and going. Little Ram’s apparent comings and goings are observed by me without comment. You are assuming that I am a person who knows something and that that person behaves a particular way once he or she is enlightened. He or she is “passive.” But I am neither passive nor aggressive. As an imaginary person, I am sometimes passive and sometimes aggressive. Krishna makes a very interesting statement in the Gita to deal with this doubt. He says, “I am the desire that is not opposed to dharma.” It means that you can do what you want as long as you do not injure anyone or anything. So you can chase money as long, as you are honest, or chase men or women, as long as you are kind and honest, and you can enjoy the fruits or your actions – good and bad – without guilt. There are no rules for jnanis – except dharma. And dharma is not something that has to be interpreted on a case-by-case basis (this is called visesa dharma). It is your nature – samanya dharma – so you can do what you please. There are only bhoga vasanas for jnanis, meaning they enjoy. And you are always protected because you are not attached to the outcome. If he or she loves me, he or she loves me. If he or she doesn’t, he or she doesn’t. How does it change who I am? This is the real meaning of passivity. You accept whatever outcome there is. But you do not go against your relative nature. My guru was hopelessly aggressive and rajasic – as a person – except when he wasn’t. Arjuna realized the self and then he took up his bow and killed a lot of people, knowing full well that nobody dies.
Peggy: Anyhow, do let me know if you are reading my mind. I do hope not – you would really find it very boring – I am not very complicated. Of course it could save a lot of time. I could just fill you in with a bit of chat and gossip to amuse you, then you could reply with answers to my questions that I hadn’t bothered to write, as you knew what I was thinking anyway, me being so predictable and all that…
Ram: I don’t read it for precisely the reason you suggested. All minds are the same. They just want certain things and the fear certain other things – yawn, yawn – and how that all works out is so very tedious. I have better things to do – like watch the NBA playoffs, flirt with women and write satsangs. Speaking of which, check the website. At the bottom of the home page there is a link to more than three hundred pages of interesting new satsangs written in the last year – and another one hundred or more to be posted this week. And keep up the good work. You are moving along very nicely under The Ramji’s excellent tutelage.
~ Love, Ramji