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Are You the Switcher?
Tammy: Dear James, my congratulations to you and your wife. It sounds wonderful. You must now be busier than ever.
James: Thank you, Tammy. No, I am not busier than ever. I just don’t do some things I did before.
Tammy: I’m afraid I am still in firefly mode. Everything is clear, yet there is something that doesn’t stick… literally, as if Tammy still had too much of a hold at times, although I know I’m not her. Other than going to work and to yoga classes, I spend all my time reading and listening to Vedanta. The way Dayananda describes the use of contemplation (when habit-born thoughts oppose the fact of oneself) was very meaningful to me. Also, when he says, “Knowledge may be there but stifled by obstructions; the fruit of knowledge is not enjoyed,” felt like an accurate description of where I am at, although I do enjoy a great freedom and peace on and off. When we first met, you said that at my stage I needed to go into the cave to become more focused; you also said that going to India was probably not a good idea for me, so I thought I’d try going on my own to the coast for 10 days during Thanksgiving, just to be in a different, distraction-free environment (it’s a kind of retreat center, the American version of a monastery, so you don’t even need to think about cooking or anything).
James: See the doer here, the one who “has to make observations.” Is that you?
Tammy: I don’t want to use this time to “make more observations” because one major obstruction is the doer trying to get enlightened. I get that. I just thought that being in a non-habitual environment might loosen up some habitual thinking patterns. Does it sound reasonable to you? Any advice?
James: Yes, it “sounds” reasonable, but it is not reasonable. It implies that you need to stay away from life to live. The habitual thinking patterns are always available, no matter where you live. I think the problem is that you are concentrating on getting rid of the vasanas rather than meditating on the self. Keep the karma yoga attitude toward the vasanas but keep your mind on the self. Here is something to meditate on: your first sentence in this email is “I’m afraid I am still in firefly mode.” And Ramji says, “Are you in the firefly mode if you know you are in the firefly mode?”
This is a very subtle teaching but if you can get it, it will free you of the “I” that thinks it is in some mode. Or here is another statement for contemplation: “Are you in the firefly mode or is the firefly mode in you?”
The problem is that Tammy thinks she needs to be in one mode or another. She apparently switches from one mode to another, meaning sometimes she experiences one thing and sometimes something else. But do you switch from one mode to the other?
Freedom is not experiential freedom for Tammy by getting her into the enlightenment mode. It is freedom from Tammy, the experiencer, no matter what mode she is in. In other words, there is a thought in you, awareness, that Tammy should experience the same thing all the time, i.e. a switched-on light. But when the Tammy lightbulb is switched off, do you cease to exist? Look for what is unaffected by the switching.
Tammy, the “I” in your first statement is not you. It is a thought appearing in you. As such it is not even capable of changing modes, because it is not conscious. It seems as if it is you, but is it? You are the knower, the one that knows the switching thought.
If this is true – and you need to see if it is – then it does not matter if you retreat or you don’t retreat. You are not the retreater. The body goes here and it goes there, but you go nowhere. The obstructions rise and fall, but you do not change. When the light is off, you know it is off. When it is on, you know it is on. It has nothing to do with you. It is just you, awareness, reflecting in a tamasic or rajasic subtle body which you take to be you.
Think about this. If you can understand it, it will free you of the seeking, the self-inquiry doer, the experiencer, etc.
~ Much love, James