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Reversing the Reversal
Sumaya: Dear Ramji and Sundari, every day now I am back in my home in Amsterdam again from India, I thank you for your teaching and Isvara’s grace to bring me to it.
I remembered last week that when I was about 16 and growing up in Amsterdam I used to go into the one esoteric bookshop there was (called Au Bout Du Monde, it is still there) and ask repeatedly for a book with “symbols” that would explain life. I was sure there had to be such a thing. Sweet, now that I think about it. Nobody could help me at the time. There were lots of existential discussions and pots of tea and lots of pot to smoke, but this “map” of life never materialised. I think now, closer to 60, I might have come across it with your teaching…
Sundari: What a sweet story! The young and ageless self determined to find its way back to itself. ☺ Maya makes it tough because there is no map. You have to find out that you are the map because you are what you seek.
Sumaya: As I am integrating the time in Tiruvannamalai it is even clearer how valuable your teaching is because it is possible to apply it to all situations, which is always the test when coming home again.
Sundari: Yes, well, it is not our teaching, but I know what you mean. The way James teaches Vedanta is unique: so simple and clear. For self-knowledge to work it has to translate into every aspect of the jiva’s life. You as the self do not need self-knowledge, because you are self-knowledge. Freedom from and for the jiva is what you are after if moksa is what you want most – and to achieve that, the jiva-Isvara identity has to be understood. The test of the how well the mind has assimilated the teaching is in one’s environment.
Sumaya: As I said to you before, the whole teaching on existence makes so much sense and is really helping. It creates a bridge for Sumaya to all her little situations and objects in her world. Living in a big city, it is not possible to just leave everything behind, and I have always known that truth is truth no matter where we are, but the existence teaching makes it much easier to keep focussed on the self in the many objects and situations that present themselves here.
Sundari: Indeed. The existence teaching is powerful because it is so undeniable. The jiva would not exist unless she is known to exist and the knowledge of her existence is only possible because she is aware. This is true of any object, although only jivas are capable of self-knowledge. It is also undeniable that the essence of any object is existence, i.e. awareness.
How can you leave anything behind when there is nothing but you? Being a partless whole, the objects in your life all dissolve into you. The only object that really needs to be renounced is the renouncer, the doer – the one “leaving everything behind.” Once the doer is negated, objects or no objects, it’s all the same to the self. Whatever objects surround the jiva or wherever the jiva lives is fine.
Sumaya: So again, I can’t thank you enough.
I am reading Panchadasi and your thorough commentary every day, Ramji. The text is just brilliant and seems to leave nothing unturned. The “yes, but” monster is having a hard time! It just cannot keep up and is shrivelling.
Sundari: Panchadasi is unequalled, and now with James teaching it comes alive like never before. No place to hide for the “yeah, but” monster when the mind is exposed to Vedanta – assuming qualifications are present, which clearly they are for you.
Sumaya: I find myself engaging much less with people who are busy doing their thing. I feel happy with that and really monitor the interactions I have, avoiding those that distract my mind and nurturing the few that come close to my heart as we are able to share our self. They are a bit thin on the ground though, but Isvara has got that in hand.
I realise more and more that I have everything. I am very lucky and a deep satisfaction is growing. Sometimes I wonder if I “should” do a bit more, take part a bit more, be more useful, but the very thoughts now stand out immediately as ridiculous and even though they still pop up and make me feel a bit insecure or lonely sometimes, they do not have the same hold anymore.
Sundari: This is discrimination at work and it brings you to the best part about Vedanta, which is freedom from and for the jiva. The process can take getting used to for the ego who is so accustomed to turning to objects to make it happy. At first there can be a period of emptiness, even loneliness, as the ego gets on board with the idea that it is in fact limitless awareness and not the small, separate and frightened thought it believed itself to be! There can also be a period of what we call “transcendental boredom” because there seems to be no real point to anything when the knowledge that you are not the doer starts sinking in. This passes when the realisation dawns that self-knowledge actually makes it possible to enjoy objects for what they have to give – limited joy. One does not expect more from them than they are capable of delivering. Nor does one get depressed or unhappy if one does not get what one wants the way one wants it; only preferences arise in the mind, not compelling needs and desires. And even if a desire should arise, you know that you are the knower of the desire, so getting it fulfilled is not imperative. It is also natural that you should steer towards keeping company with like-minded people. Vedanta encourages that, as rajas and tamas are contagious. It is important for peace of mind to avoid rajasic/tamasic people and situations wherever possible.
Sumaya: I keep seeing the big egg-timer I have in my room, a good reminder of discrimination for me. I turn the egg-timer around and it looks exactly the same, but everything is shifted 180 degrees, all upside down. It’s maya at its best, and I know that although things appear one way, it is actually the exact opposite. Then I laugh. What else to do? Cultivating love for self.
Sundari: A lovely metaphor for self-inquiry. That is what discrimination takes: reversing the reversal, discriminating you, awareness, from the objects that appear in you 24/7.
Thanks again for your donation, Sumaya, may Isvara bless your pure and beautiful soul. And I truly hope we get to have some time together, somewhere, sometime.
~ Much love to you, Sundari