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Sattvic Arrogance and Accommodation
Michael: Dear Ramji and Sundari, I am doing well. Thank you very much for asking. I am doing wonderfully. The recognition of the identity of knowledge and freedom has never been clearer and stronger. And of course to make the knowledge of my identity as ever-free and unaffected awareness truly firm and strong and unshakable, I need to apply myself to these precious teachings daily and constantly. I have received so much in these three weeks in India there on the roof of the wonderful Sunshine Guesthouse. In my heart there is a song of praise going out to Isvara for having revealed these amazing teachings of this non-dual truth, and a shout of joy erupts often in the depths of my soul together with much gratitude for you, James.
Much much gratitude and praise for you, heaps of praise for you, which I know you will immediately pass on to Isvara, nevertheless for me this praise and gratitude accompanied with all good wishes for you go to you and you alone. These teachings are extraordinary, and to me they seem unique in their clarity and liberating wisdom, but I am so grateful for how you put your entire being into them to enliven these teachings, with all the love and beauty of your being, to make them vibrate with the power of liberation that they hold. It has had a wonderful and deeply liberating effect on me and is resonating powerfully in my heart and soul. These three weeks have been a Vedanta-bomb, an explosion of liberation recognition.
Sundari: This is so beautiful, Michael. You write so well, straight from a pure heart. Really touching. Thank you for the word of thanks, I agree with you totally – all praise goes to Isvara in the form of James. He is a gift of grace to all who cross his path. We must all have good punya karma to have found him! And yes, indeed, to be free, discrimination between satya and mithya has to be immediate and permanent. Like James says, discrimination is a vasana we all need to develop.
Michael: And yet, and still, to fully and confidently claim the self as myself in the face of the ongoing vasana stream, saying the opposite, still is shrouded with some trepidation. Well, it is and it isn’t. Of course rajas and tamas are doing their bit, seemingly obscuring the light at times. But how can they?! And with all the teachings I have received about the workings of maya (how beautiful is that!), karma yoga attitude and an understanding of the functioning of Isvara and jiva, I feel in very good shape.
Sundari: You most definitely are in good shape, being the self. And as Michael you are in good shape too because he is the self too – and Michael is a wonderful soul! You have the knowledge, so stand fearlessly in awareness as awareness, and apply the opposite thought whenever a thought to the contrary pops up in the mind – just ignorance, nothing more. Nothing to do with you.
Michael: It’s only been a good three weeks – but a few challenging situations in my life I have passed through gracefully. I am certainly more confident than ever in my life, simply based on knowing who I am and who I am not. The simplicity of what to do is staggering at times, quite wonderful. I am nicely alone, staying quiet, doing my work, being a father and a husband.
Sundari: It is so simple and seemingly such a small adjustment, this knowledge – but so very powerful and life-changing.
So glad to hear the confidence is there, that is all it takes, just keep at adjusting the mind. One day the knowledge will be your identity all the time, without any effort.
Michael: So I feel I am still flying on the current that you set in motion in India. I do have the question of how I can possibly develop sattva in the life that I have that is so busy. But so far this is not an issue.
Sundari: I can hear that you don’t really have an issue with anything anymore. However, balancing sattva in a busy life is something we need to work out for ourselves. Certainly as self-knowledge works on the mind the pressure of the vasanas is reduced and things “get to you” less and less. Freedom from the jiva is what we are after. There is nothing to do but track the mind on a moment-to-moment basis until your first response to anything is as the non-dual self and not from the jiva’s likes and dislikes. This is the application of knowledge. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, as they say. We all have to live in the world and follow our dharma. Sometimes this requires us to face less-than-optimal conditions for peace of mind. One must apply the knowledge in all situations, observing dispassionately, as the mind has to accommodate to its karma, whatever it is. A trap to avoid is the downside of sattva.
Sattva can become such a strong like that one becomes cynical and judgmental of everything else – resulting in strong dislikes – more vasanas. There is a kind of sattvic arrogance that does not help at all. It makes it difficult to compassionately and patiently go with the flow – to see everything in one’s environment as the self, playing out in self-ignorance. In fact sattvic arrogance can become a real hindrance to moksa. This is a common problem with self-realised people. One becomes over sensitive to everything: noise, people, pollution, crime, etc. It does not bode well for self-inquiry unless one has the eye of compassionate non-duality. Accommodation is a very important qualification for moksa.
When self-knowledge has cleaned up everything in the personal subconscious, one is free forever. Ignorance is over for the jiva who is really the self – and knows what that means. The free jiva will still have its tendencies and given nature, but will no longer be conditioned by the gunas, although they will still operate as they always do in the apparent reality. Ignorance is only a problem for the mind if you don’t know what it is. The vasanas are still there, but they are like burnt ropes – they no longer have the power to bind.
When you have a “negative reaction” to something, it is usually because one has unconsciously identified with objects (the body-mind). Self-knowledge reverses that process, producing knowledge of the jiva (mithya) from the point of view of awareness, (satya). One also understands awareness from the point of view of the jiva. It is important to understand both perspectives in order to be able to discriminate the self, you, from the objects appearing in you, something you are clearly good at doing.
It is subtle and important point to remember is that in order to live free, how we relate to our environment must be from the point of view of the subtle body, not from the causal body, i.e. Isvara, or the gunas. It is only through the subtle body that self-knowledge can purify the mind – which then thinks and acts in accordance with the values that belong to the self, not the jiva. If this does not take place, one can mistakenly believe that Isvara is in charge – which is true, up to a point. The jiva is part and parcel of its environment, and so subject to Isvara’s laws. But the jiva is really jivatman, so free of Isvara. There has to be a cognitive shift in your understanding (i.e. in the subtle body), and actions need to flow from that shift to establish a new pattern in the causal body and allow Isvara to flow through that pattern. It takes a great deal of discipline and determination. Binding vasanas, or patterns, are not going to go away by saying they “belong to Isvara.” I know I am preaching to the converted, but this does bear repeating.
I am not sure if you have read the satsang James and I wrote on samskaras. He has helped me so much to understand the way this same samskara played out for me. I too had to a tough journey as a jiva, with some pretty difficult karma to deal with. As much as I saw that “my” story was not real a long time ago, it took the time it took to negate the doer and for the prarabdha karma to work itself out.
If you have not read this, read it and let me know if it helps:
Samskaras take time to go away – they will fade more quickly when they are fully seen and understood. Deep-seated samskaras will keep reappearing until they are fully negated. Isvara has no qualms about dredging up from the depths our deepest darkest and least fabulous tendencies and is sure to do so when we like it least. Anxiety is a constant companion when we have work to do to clean up the mind, and we are very likely to forget the knowledge and contravene dharma when these destructive patterns arise in the mind. One has to catch the pattern very quickly and apply the opposite thought, which works because it objectifies the anxiety – if one can remember to think it when one is stressed and in the grip of a samskara.
Karma yoga is perfectly designed to destroy samskaras, and works when worry/stress/fear/blame is there – if applied. However, the nature of rajas is such that the tamas (denial, blindness) that accompanies it causes one to feel that one does not have “time” to deconstruct the desire/fear/blame on the spot! Rajas is synonymous with time, as time is another word for desire.
When in the control of rajas and tamas, the doer forgets that it is now an inquirer and that it is supposed to free the mind of worry through self-knowledge, not to get the object in the world, whatever it is – like improving the jiva, for instance. It thinks that the results of the actions it takes will free the mind – which they will, temporarily – leaving the samskara carefully concealed and intact, however. When rajas is strong, the mind cannot observe itself. It is caught up in the future, the thought that things need to be different, so the mind acts to correct the situation, usually in negative ways. The mind does not act to correct itself, because sattva is covered by rajas and tamas.
When tamas predominates, the mind is too dull to discriminate; it is prone to denial and avoidance. Rajas and tamas always work together. Where you find projection (rajas) you will find denial (tamas). When satya (the true nature of the mind) predominates, the mind becomes clear and one is able to see the natural order of creation. Then every action taken will be with the right attitude.
The key to most samskaras is the word “time.” Time represents the pressure of the samskara. The ego either wants what it wants the way it wants immediately – or it believes that it needs “time” to resolve issues and get what it wants. Either way, it employs distraction because what it is really after is maintaining the status quo. When ignorance is operating, the thought/word “time” is meant to refer to something real, something substantial. But all it refers to is “I want.” We know what is behind that – “I am small, I am insecure, I am afraid, I am unworthy, I am incomplete” – etc.
If one is vigilant and can identify the rajas/tamas cycle in time, one can ameliorate the effect of a samskara very effectively by dismissing the present thought, taking the line of reasoning it represents to its logical conclusion, thus defusing the power of the samskara in the moment.
But then the doer/ego will immediately try to prevent this alternative because doing is the key to the maintenance of its identity as someone in control of his or her destiny – see the fear, again rajas. This is the problem in relationships too. If one really surrenders to the relationship, you lose control.
Renunciation of karma and the results causes another problem for the doer. It presents the scenario it was trying to avoid in the first place: no control, which is fear-based too. If the doer actually analysed the root thought in the light of self-knowledge – which is: “I need this result because I am incomplete, small and afraid” – the whole problem would go away instantly.
But if the samskara is doing the thinking (which is usually the case for the doer), that is the worst alternative. “What if…?” – and off it goes worrying. Fear is meant to be very smart. At some point in the life of the doer, worry is self-validating. It equals love for the doer. It means “I care about myself.” But it is a purely samsaric value. If one encounters a terrible fear of any kind, dismiss it immediately. Reaffirm the opposite thought: “No bad result, I am awareness.” Fear is hard to love.
Samskaras are never about what they purport to be about. An unnamed fear lurks behind them all. No matter what you do or don’t do, it is there attaching itself to an action. One needs to be sick and tired of the mind it creates. Yes, one can walk away from various situations relatively easily, but one cannot walk away from your conditioning other than through self-knowledge; it follows you wherever you go, just like your shadow does. Walking away from the belief that worldly results are necessary for peace of mind is the real (and only) renunciation because it amounts to renunciation of the doer itself.
The best mantra is “Nothing can go wrong.” Nothing ever went “wrong,” because life is not about me getting what I think I want. It is about the me that does not want. The only cure for a bad attitude is a good attitude.
There so many good thoughts available to remove the stress in any situation, but attachment to the doer make them all unpalatable. Negative thoughts then rush in, taking over the mind, making it impossible to see clearly. The renunciation-thought is particularly difficult for the doer because it indicates a failure to get what it wants the way it wants it when it wants it. It can’t stand that thought, because the “I am the self” thought does not actually sustain it when it is faced with various everyday situations that involve loss or the fear of loss, as you have found. This is indeed very frustrating!
Michael: Thank you, James. I bow to you. I hope you are very well, and Sundari too.
~ Much, much love, Michael
Sundari: You are so welcome, Michael, thanks again for your kind words. You are such a pure soul.
~ With much love from both of us, Sundari