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Awareness and the Doer
Karl: Hi, James. I’m not sure how to word this exactly, but I’ll try my best. For some reason this all came down very heavily on me yesterday. I know I haven’t given you time to reply to my last email, but I just wanted to get this down while I could.
We have talked about the doer, free will etc. before, and this is a continuation of that idea. Okay, so the teaching says this: there is one self; you are it; it is not a doer. As Atma Bodh says, “It has no sense organs and is therefore not involved in the world.” So while the apparent reality is dependent on the self for its seeming existence, the self is never involved in maya in an active fashion. It is just the light of awareness that illumines its existence. Now, whatever is “happening” in the apparent reality is the play of Isvara, Isvara’s vasanas, karma and the gunas. Again, all of these are dependent on the self, but the self is not taking part in any of them. So if I am the self, I am never taking part in maya other than lending it its existence. So even thinking that I am Karl, who is doing things, is ignorance. In the apparent sense Karl is a piece of Isvara. Anything that is happening to him at any time is and always has been just the play of the vasanas, karma and gunas. The reason he is writing now, the thoughts he is thinking, the typing of his fingers, the fears and desires he is feeling, are all just the results of karma, vasanas and gunas. If the sense of “I” is just a notion, then he is never choosing to do anything. It just seems that way. Everything is just playing out in the light of me, awareness. Whether Karl chooses to do japa or watch Rambo movies is not up to him. There is no way that Karl can choose to do karma yoga, study scripture or meditate, because karma and vasanas are determining that. I know that the scripture talks about the grace of God concerning enlightenment. But really, whether Karl moves his arm, thinks a thought, takes a breath, goes to work or takes a crap is the grace of God. It’s all happening or not happening according to Isvara and the forces governing maya.
So if my true identity is the self, I am never choosing to do karma yoga or inquiry or, for that matter, choosing not to do them. I couldn’t, even if it was possible to have a desire to do them. I have no involvement in the world, because I have no mind or sense organs. I am and always have been just the ordinary awareness of what appears to be happening in maya.
Whether Karl knows it or not, he is the self. Whether he knows it or not is not up to him. It is determined by the forces of maya. So really, the question is, what is there to do? He can’t actively choose to practice spirituality, and even if he could, I am the self and the self doesn’t actively do anything. Whether Karl does spiritual practice or attains enlightenment is immaterial. It is a notion because I am the self and therefore self-aware already. It has nothing to do with Karl. His flashlight cannot illumine my ever-present sunlight.
Okay, that’s the best way I can put it (or rather the best Isvara can put it). If I have gone down the wrong rabbit hole, please pull me out with your sagely guidance.
Lastly, in a personal note, I realized yesterday how much your guidance means to me. Your teachings have been a real light in the darkness and have given my life the perspective and meaning that I have been looking for for a good part of my thirty years here. And on top of that, you’re just a cool guy. One bright, shining, cool guy. It surely is grace to have become acquainted with you.
~ Love, Karl
James: Got it in one, Karl. The only possible trap is that Karl might use the knowledge, “I am actionless awareness,” to avoid doing what has to be done. I don’t get the sense that this would be a problem, because it seems Karl is quite happy to work out whatever Isvara puts on his plate.
~ Love, James