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Another Satisfied Customer
Karen: Dear James, it’s been one month since the last bits of ignorance floated up and away, revealing the obvious, awareness. I had been studying Vedanta for six months and had been seeking for over 30 years before that. It is rare that programs, processes and people actually deliver on their promises, I have found. I had picked up a lot of conflicting ignorant spiritual ideas that I needed to sort through, discard and clarify. Your disclosure regarding the various paths and myths was extremely helpful to me. I didn’t realize how frustrated and confused I was, like a “rat in a maze.” Having figured out the pitfalls of religion, I naively fell victim and trusted anything Eastern. When the philosophies started colliding I didn’t know where to turn so I decided to choose one and throw myself into it. It worked to some extent because the meditation practice “purified my mind,” as you pointed out, and qualified me for Vedanta. That’s all history now, but I just wanted to thank you for speaking out and exposing these “sacred” traditions for what they can and can’t do.
I also have been reading up on what to expect post-enlightenment. I had to recover from yoga’s view of enlightenment as transcendental fireworks and experiential. I thank God for my training as an artist, which I drew on when you said to go toward subtlety and away from dramatic experience. Life since is pretty much the same except I noticed that I have no sorrow, no sense of loss, sentimentality or fear. When a “tear-jerker” movie or song is on, Karen tries to rev up the mind to produce some tears but they don’t come. My daughter, whom I was very close to, moved to Hawaii a couple of days after moksa and the same thing happened: no loss or sadness. It almost seems a little humorous that she used to appear as a three-dimensional person who was next to me, now she lives as a flat computer image on Skype. I am free now to love purely. People in my life have also lost their special status, including myself. Another grandson was born the other day. Before, I would have distorted the experience and made it into a big deal. I also notice my relationship to desire is different. Desires come up but there is no concern over whether they’re fulfilled or not. I have no hesitancy at all in being myself (Karen). I had been painstakingly pursuing virtue for many years (probably lifetimes) and definitely had sainthood and liberation confused. Probably the most profound change is that I thought I was a sufferer or that I had actually suffered. Instead of liberation feeling like I suffer no more, I feel like I have “never” suffered. There is just a faint memory trace of the mistaken notion that I had suffered. Is this the distinction you make, that moksa is freedom from the jiva, not for the jiva?
I had met you in Princeton, and will be attending the retreat in Malaga. Sundari was helpful to me with post-enlightenment insomnia. Thanks again for making Vedanta available in a clear, inexpensive and easily accessible form for Westerners.
~ Another satisfied customer, Karen
James: Hi, Karen. Thank you so much for the lovely email. Appreciation is much appreciated. I am so happy that Vedanta set you free, not that you were ever bound. Yes, the knowledge that you convey in this email means (as you know as a matter of experience) that you – awareness – are free of the Karen-jiva. Whereas once you thought you were her, she is now just a faint memory, only an idea. Karen was just a name for a bundle of vasanas that have been neutralized by self-knowledge after a long and difficult search. We all played our part: Karen, Vedanta, James and of course Isvara, who is responsible for the seeking and the finding.
I am happy also that you are coming to the Malaga retreat.
~ Much love, James