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I Am Limitless but I Am Stuck in a Body
Diorama: Dear Dr. Ram, I have an ontological, and to a lesser extent physiological, problem in three parts, which you may be able to advise on (for the sake of this everlasting lila).
I have this recurring diurnal nightmare where I go to sleep at night knowing full well that I am the self, formless and infinite, full of bliss and knowledge, but when I awaken in the morning I am stuck inside this body that wants to get up and go to the bathroom, put food down its throat, etc. What is the cause of this?
Second, I assume death of the body is the only cure, yet more illness and pain. It’s a bit harsh from the fountain of mercy, especially as I never wanted a body in the first place, isn’t it?
Can I get my money back?
~ Yours most humbly, Diorama
Ram: Dear Diorama, you say you go to sleep at night fully convinced that you are the limitless self but wake up in the morning stuck inside the meaty waste tube, and you don’t like it. Is this correct?
Ram: Ram says the one who is aware of the conviction of limitlessness is the same one who is aware of the sense of bodily limitation – and other than both. In other words, the “you” that is supposedly limitless is not a solid, real entity. The “you” is only a thought of limitlessness. In the same way the “you” who feels limited by the body is not a solid, real entity. It too is just a thought of limitation. The problem, I think, stems from the belief that what is limited should become limitless and remain that way. But what is limited, let’s call it the Diorama-thought, is never going to become limitless. And what is limitless never becomes limited – although it seems so.
The apparent contradiction that you have so carefully documented is brought on by “level confusion.” The real you is the awareness of these apparently contradictory thoughts, or “yous,” if you prefer. It is neither limitless nor is it limited. It neither changes nor is it eternal. It is neither in the body nor is it out of the body. It is the knower of both “in” and “out.” The knower is always free of the known, in this case limitation and freedom from limitation. It knows that you can’t have freedom from limitation without limitation. Both limitation and freedom, moksa, are unreal. In the Nirvana Shatakam Shankara, speaking as the self says, “I am neither bondage nor liberation.”
The mind/ego, owing to lack of self-knowledge, wants an experiential resolution to a non-existent problem. It wants to be free of bodily suffering. This stems from its identification with the body. But it cannot get free of suffering, because it is already free. It needs to “see” this. This desire to be free is very difficult to give up because what we are trying to free ourselves from seems real. But it is not real. Therefore the need for freedom is illegitimate.
Before you go to sleep at night, see if the knower is not there illumining the experience of limitlessness. When you wake up in the morning, see if the knower is not there behind the feeling of limitation. How do you know that you do not like this bodily existence? The body does not tell you that it doesn’t like it. It doesn’t know a thing.
There is no particular experience of bliss or happiness that goes along with enlightenment. Enlightenment means that you know that you are the knower of every conceivable experience. It means that you never confuse yourself with either pleasurable or painful experience. Ramana, for example, was a jnani, meaning he understood that he was the self. There is a belief, and it is just a belief with only a tiny bit of truth to back it up, that if you are the self you will “feel” a certain way, and conversely, if you don’t you aren’t the self. But Ramana’s body suffered terribly from cancer. How does this happen to a jnani? It does not happen to the jnani. It happens to the body, the “aggregate,” which is subject to prarabdha, past actions.
To summarize, the cause of this confusion is identification with experience brought on by lack of self-knowledge. When it is clear that you are the knower, the problem disappears.
As far as getting your money back, you are out of luck. The only way to redeem yourself is to send a generous tax-deductible donation to Worldwide Ramji Ministries.
~ All the best, The Fount of All Wisdom, Satguru Sri Sri Ramji Mahamandalaishwar (make it cash, okay?)