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The Expectation Hangover
Harrison: Hi, Sundari, thank you so much for your response to my recent “field notes”! Not only were they very helpful, they came at an opportune time. I had to read and then re-read your reply a few times to properly soak up the content. The next part is, as you said, applying it to mundane daily activities and letting it do its thing.
Sundari: Great, I am glad to be of service.
Harrison: Some follow-up thoughts:
A. I liked how you underlined the problems inherent in dogmatic religion (confusing Isvara with pure consciousness) and materialist science (thinking apparent reality is REAL). I’m very relieved to know that Vedanta is my “get out of Calvinism and Richard Dawkins free” card!
Sundari: What is so funny is that science and religion are like two dogmas barking at each other but they are actually not very different at all in their basic ethos. Without self-knowledge one is automatically constrained within the apparent reality – maya has you by the you-know-what – and there really is no big picture possible. All of it and any of it is subject to negation. Only self-knowledge stands on its own and is self-shining, non-negatable.
B. Your comments about there being neither success nor failure in Vedanta came at a very opportune time. I had a discussion with a friend/work colleague recently that revealed a particular “success vasana” I was harboring. Have spent the last week burning that sucker out with the Vedic Laser Beams. Before Vedanta, I had encountered the concept “there’s only actions and results” from reading up on NLP and hypnotherapy. Thank you for reminding of that though because I had let that slip in regard to some areas of my life.
Sundari: Great! That is a very important one to grasp. NLP and most other such techniques believe there is a doer achieving results. Apart from the teaching on karma yoga vis-à-vis success and failure, the need for success is a need for validation, plain and simple. This does not make succeeding right or wrong. It is always a question of motivation.
C. The way in which you qualified “what we mean when we say ‘I’” was very helpful too.
Sundari: It’s a very good prakriya to press pause every time you hear yourself use or think the word.
D. I’m glad you liked the phrase “emotionally disproportionate.” Feel free to use the expression as required. ☺ The use of humor within the ShiningWorld community is a big plus for me though I understand it makes “seriously spiritual” people nervous. Personally, I think James has the right balance of profundity and silliness. (I loved the YouTube link in the recent ShiningWorld newsletter!)
Sundari: Thanks, Harrison, I will definitely use the term. ☺ Yes, I know what you mean about humour. It is a fine line and it’s true, many serious spiritual types take humour within the teaching to be flippant – which is not true, but it is not untrue either. Flippant is very apt if you are looking at things from the self’s point of view and you know none of it is real – what else is there to do but laugh?
Harrison: Speaking of things that will raise a smile, while ambling around my favorite bookstore I came across the following which, I believe, will probably be a huge seller. This will be the next BIG thing in the “spiritual/self-help” world. Order Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love and Life and receive this gift: Christine Hassler’s That’s Right! We’re All Suffering from Expectation Hangovers! View on ChristineHassler.com, preview by Yahoo.
Sundari: We are until we are not anymore – This book is The Secret dressed up in slightly different clothing delivered by the predictable and suitably impressive (yawn) spiritual supermodel, spiritual candy floss and as bad for you – karma yoga in reverse.
Harrison: Share the good news! Oh, wait – didn’t the Vedas solve this problem thousands of years ago already? New York Times bestseller list, here we come… This is almost as funny as the email I got recently inviting me for a one-day silent retreat at a local yoga school. They were charging $65. I can stay at home and not talk for the handsome sum of NOTHING. I asked my wife, “What are they going to do? Pay for some dude to ‘shooosh’ people for a few hours? If I talk, do I get my money back??”
Sundari: It is mind-boggling, is it not?! We were teaching in Tiruvannamalai a few years back, and Mooji was running a silent retreat for several days charging a few hundred dollars – and there were hundreds of people lining up for it – and he was not even there! Now that is something to be flippant about!!
E. Your point about transforming the inner world while being unnoticed by people in the outer world is something I can relate to. This stuff most definitely WORKS!
Sundari: Yes, we are the ones that see everyone and everything, but people who believe they are people do not see us, though we are right in front of them, plainly to be seen.
F. Last is something that I’ve been mulling over for some time but have been too chicken to ask, so here goes! Because ShiningWorld isn’t a monastic community and I am not in a position to run away from home and wear orange robes, how does one become an official student? Up until now, I’ve been reading/watching/listening to Vedantic teaching but on a “do it yourself” basis which I realize is not how this tradition works. Last year in an email exchange James said, “You need someone to expose your ignorance to.” I would very much like to expose this ignorance and offer up my “sacrificial sticks,” so to speak. I have come to realization that (i) I need qualified instruction and (ii) that I am very very fortunate to have the kind of resources available that I have.
Sundari: I’m glad you asked, Harrison, and glad you did not chicken out. ☺ You definitely have come to the right place if you want qualified instruction. As ShiningWorld is not a school as such nor an ashram, we offer the purest Vedanta teaching via digital media: video, email and Skype works well. There is a new function in the satsang section on the website where you can search any topic by topic or by teacher. Here is the link: <http://www.shiningworld.com/now/satsang/>. As you know, there are enormous resources at ShiningWorld. In essence, self-inquiry has to be conducted on your own, with a valid means of knowledge and the guidance of a qualified teacher. If we were based in only one place we could have people come and spend time with us but ShiningWorld has a different brief. Self-inquiry is about constantly subjecting the mind to the scripture. James is among the best (I think he is the best) Vedanta teacher alive today. All the teachers on board ShiningWorld teach like he does because he taught us and we are pretty strict about keeping things that way. You could ask any one of us to take you through your paces and we would be happy to do answer all your questions, by email and or Skype.
Harrison: Once again, thank you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking reply.
~ Best wishes, Harrison
PS: Enjoy the grandchildren – I’ve had mine staying with us for the past month. ☺
Sundari: You are most welcome, Harrison, and thanks! It has been an interesting experience being a granny – so different to being a mother. I can enjoy the whole process with total detachment even though I love my daughter so much and this little jiva is really cute! I have never been a baby-person and motherhood was not high on my agenda growing up; I am not really the mommy type and definitely had a very unusual mother-daughter relationship, seeing my daughter not as mine but as the self from the time she was born. It will be interesting to see how she relates to her daughter, what seeds were sown. I brought her up as an equal, of course, and she used to give me such a hard time. ☺ When I complained she would say, “Oh well, you brought me up think for myself and be free!” Ha, ha – maybe it’s better to be mommy-type if you want children…
~ Much love to you, Sundari