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Bad Teaching, Conceited Teacher
Constance: Hello, Ramji. The understanding below continues and “I am this” is all I can explain what this this is is almost not even a concern. I am complete knowingness, or beingness; what I know, however, is completely unknown. And yet Constance continues too, a perfect paradox.
I used to follow ______ after reading his book where he guides ______ to the final realisation. However, he said he could not help me, as consciousness guided his work with ______ and he did not feel that way for me. So I went to ______ and completely surrendered and burned up with desire for complete union for months, and had half-hearted realisations after abiding in the sense of “I am.” More recently the advice was to surrender again, and this felt wrong, so I came to you. I have much respect and love for both, but you really have helped more than anything. I go to ______ ’s blog out of interest rather than searching or seeking, but am confused about the below:
“You see, our path is about Self-Realization, even though that even the Self is eventually transcended.”
James: If reality is non-dual, who is going to transcend it?
Constance: “The Self is the juice of the universe, the potentating agent that makes the universe appear.”
James: This is poetic half-nonsense. The self does not make anything appear. Maya, which is a power in the self, makes the universe appear. There is no universe from the self’s perspective.
Constance: “Objects change; the Self is always the same in one sense as the subject, the knower, even though there is an even higher Knower behind it.”
James: This is rubbish without an explanation.
Constance: “Those whose awakenings have not included self-knowing, self-realization, in my mind lack the richness of love, devotion and surrender, which ultimately is power. When the Self operates consciously through you, each action carries far more weight than actions by a body/mind who is not self-realized.”
James: It is clear that the person thinks he is an ego, not the self. If he knew who he was he would not talk about “awakenings,” because the self never slept. He is just talking about epiphanies that the ego experienced.
Furthermore, the self is operating through everyone all the time. He makes it sound as if there was some other power that operates through individuals. He has no idea what non-duality means.
Constance: “I am sorry I have not been available to you recently. I have tried my best to answer emails and Skype contacts, but off and on for several weeks I have been experiencing almost constant ecstatic bliss that is so powerful it just captivates my full attention. There is such happiness and love that fills my beingness completely. I thought I had ‘transcended’ these ecstatic states many years ago in order to abide in ‘ordinary mind,’ but with the knowledge that ‘I’ am the witnessing absolute entirely beyond this world of void and form.”
James: This is the ego talking again. If it was the self speaking, it would not say that it “thought it had transcended.… etc.,” because with reference to states of mind, the self is always transcendent. He is an ego talking about its experience.
Furthermore, his “beingness” cannot be filled with anything. It is fullness itself.
Constance: “However, the so-called ‘Self’ has revisited me in a most powerful way, filling ‘me’ with peaceful, resting energy, love and bliss. Like… I just sit hour after hour experiencing the joy within.”
James: See his idea of the self here as an object, as something other than him. His ego, like all egos, feels pretty small and is very happy when it has a “powerful” experience of bliss. The man seems to be bored. If he was the self he would see “ordinary mind” and sattvic bliss equally. So there is actually no samadhi, because the understanding that goes with samadhi is that all objects have equal value. From the self’s point of view, ordinary mind and powerful bliss are just ideas. This whole communication is meant to make him look good.
I feel somewhat sorry for him, however, because when the “so-called ‘Self’” decides not to visit him, he is in for a bit of a letdown and will have to go back to the humdrum banality of “ordinary mind.” The implication is that he is extraordinary now that the self has seen fit to “visit” him with bliss.
Constance: “Perhaps it is time to start online satsangs again and share this joy and the way to it.”
James: Here he is trying to impress us with his compassion. Honestly, Constance, this kind of silliness makes me sick.
Constance: From what I read above… is talking about transcending the self, which cannot be done, as reality is non-dual; the above implies a duality or levels of reality.
James: This is true, ______ is not speaking as the self. His self-knowledge is indirect. The self is an object to him, something to be transcended. He is caught up in experience. He thinks of himself as an experiencing entity, and in fact is captivated by sattva, experiential bliss.
Constance: Is ______ experiencing a more sattvic state or samadhi?
James: A sattvic state, but no samadhi (see above). One wonders why he is making such a big deal out of it unless he is trying to impress people with his “spirituality.” The “guiding ______ to the final understanding” is a bit suspect too. Seems he has a case of enlightenment sickness and wants us to know what a great guru he is.
Constance: He mentions the self acting through you; again, this is surely not possible, as the self is independent of the body-mind experiencing, you may become more sattvic, but you do not act through the self.
James: His orientation is the ego. If you look at reality from the ego’s point of view, it seems as if the self is acting “through” it. Action seems to be real when you look at the self through the body-mind filter.
You have to understand Isvara if you want to understand the relationship between the doer and action. There is no teaching here, just his opinion.
Constance: The best we can “do” is have the karma yoga attitude at all times. I’m not sure what is meant by “there is even a higher knower behind the self,” but assume that this is talking about the fact that once knowing that you are the self, the fact that you can then explain it and describe it makes it a higher knower.
James: With all due respect, this man has no teaching. It is just his experience. He may be referring to the distinction between the reflected self, the apparent knower, and pure awareness, that which makes knowing possible, but I doubt it. Again, I think he is trying to impress by claiming to have knowledge of something that cannot be verified.
There is only one knower, awareness, which is not a knower of objects. It is self-knowing without the aid of instruments, i.e. a mind. If there is a world appearing in awareness it is known through the power of maya. Maya creates a subtle body, and when pure awareness shines on the subtle body gross and subtle objects are known. In this situation awareness knows both itself and the objects appearing in it. I suppose he picked up this idea from that statement of Nisargadatta (probably mistranslated) that “the Absolute is ‘beyond’ Consciousness.”
Constance: Sorry to ask, but I completely trust your understanding of scripture and know that ______ does not have much faith in scripture. I would be grateful for your feedback and am happy to wait, so no rush, but am looking forward to hear from you.
James: Scripture is the only way you can check up on these so-called enlightened people whose only teaching is their own experience. Sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong. So you can’t count on them.
They don’t accept scripture for several reasons. Not all scriptures are equal. Some have not been properly vetted by sages over a long time and contain both the truth and their unexamined beliefs and opinions. The Guru Gita is a good example. So unless you have been taught Vedanta, you can get confused by unpurified scriptures.
And Vedanta – which is scripture’s scripture – is meant to be taught because there are apparent contradictions that need to be handled by a teacher. So lazy people who have had some kind of experiential “enlightenment” and drawn certain conclusions from their experience are always averse to scripture because it either confuses them or it reveals the fallacies in their thinking.
Even heavyweight jnanis like Ramana and Nisargadatta were poor teachers, not that they claimed to be teachers. Their “teachings” were not teachings at all, just isolated statements made to different people at different times and collected later and presented as “teachings” by people who don’t know what a teaching actually is. A teaching explains the whole of reality so that its nature is revealed beyond doubt. If you want a proper means of knowledge you have to do this because reality is non-dual and everything that seems to be different from other things needs to be revealed to be one. We call the “teachings” of jnanis “smriti,” remembered knowledge. Sometimes it is corroborated by scripture and sometimes it isn’t. To take someone like this man as a guru is not wise, because you will definitely end up confused.
Talking “about” the self or anything else is not a teaching. This person is talking about a self beyond the self along with a lot of talk about his blissful experience. People in general don’t talk about their sexual orgasms, because the orgasm isn’t transferred by words. However, the spiritual types seem to love talking about their spiritual orgasms, even though they don’t transfer either. This is a very conceited man, in my opinion. The last part about him being too blissful to teach and the false sense of nobility concerning his power to show people how to find joy is really precious.
In any case, even if there was such a self, a teaching would have to reveal it, otherwise what use talking about it?
Finally, Constance, my dear, I am going to ask you to please rewrite the following paragraph. It needs a bit of work. I think it is probably the truth, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense as it is formulated. I read it to Sundari and she couldn’t make heads or tails of it either.
“The understanding below continues and ‘I am this’ is all I can explain what this this is is almost not even a concern. I am complete knowingness, or beingness; what I know, however, is completely unknown. And yet Constance continues too, a perfect paradox.”
Constance: Thank you, you have confirmed my feelings about this all teacher all along. Yes, ______ is a big Nisargadatta fan. Anyhow, here is my rewrite:
The understanding of the difference between knowledge and experience continues. Where I am experienceless knowing, but not a knowing that is full of intellectual facts and figures but a pure knowing of limitless awareness, which can only be described as a full and complete, objectless feeling. In addition to this knowing, Constance in this apparent reality continues as normal: same likes and dislikes.
However, I do not feel any different, and I guess I would not, as the self has always been the self; what would feel different would be the ego that has experiences. This last sentence further solidifies the difference between knowledge and experience for me as I write what I am thinking/writing out loud to you.
Ramji: Good, Constance. It takes a while to accept that ego is only going to feel what the ego feels and the self is only going to see things as it does when you understand that you are the self. The ego always has an expectation that some kind of big experiential shift should accompany self-realization and it often has a hard time accepting the fact that nothing changes except that the seeking ends.
If you want a big, happy, blissful life in samsara you have to create it by cleaning up the obstacles standing between you and it. You have to make decisions that free you of your attachments and aversions. If you don’t, they will just keep on creating the same problems. Karma does not care if you are enlightened.
Having said that, if your understanding of yourself as whole and complete, actionless, unconcerned, ordinary awareness is firm, you will make the choices that lead to a sattvic life. Insofar as the self finds itself apparently living in the apparent reality it demands sattva. Rajas and tamas are not suitable for enlightened people. There is an enlightened swami that was a very effective teacher who never purified his rajas, and a month ago he was exposed as a sexual predator and lost everything he had created in the world. It was Isvara refusing to live in the body of a rajasic/tamasic person. Once you have been given the knowledge, you have no choice but to clean up your karma. If you drag your feet, you will not like yourself.
The ego has a fantasy that when self-knowledge takes place it will be above it all or that the world will suddenly beat a path to its feet. We call this “superimposition” in Vedanta, projecting self-nature on samsara. You cannot mix the real and the apparent. Each stays where it is always. Moksa is only viveka, discrimination, knowing which is which and not confusing the two.
Constance: Yes, I see that sattvic choices and behaviours are occurring more and more of their own accord, and nothing has changed except that seeking has stopped, and that is a big blessing in itself, so many, many thanks to you, more than words can express, what a relief!
I have a few more questions if that is okay. I really do not want to go back to work in the corporate world, but lack of income now dictates that I need to get a job. I was hoping that an online business would do the trick, but this is taking longer than expected. Somehow it simply does not feel right to apply for jobs; even the ones I have done and have had responses for I do not feel like replying to. I am feeling that if I hold out, a more appropriate vocation where I have a much more sattvic environment will appear and finances will take care of themselves. I can see that the sense of doership is reducing on this issue, and the attachment to financial security is being challenged. However, one still needs to pay bills and expenses. Sorry to ask about samsaric life, but would be grateful for any guidance.
James: I can’t really say what is best in this case. If I recommend one course and you follow it and it doesn’t work, you will blame me. My job description is quite limited: destroy ignorance. If I was in your position I would go back to corporatia with a good escape plan that involves a sattvic lifestyle and karma yoga, make as much money as possible in a reasonably short time and then bail. But if you have nerves of steel, you might put your eggs in Isvara’s basket and wait for a nice sattvic alternative. It is important, however, not to think that because you want it or because you know who you are that Isvara necessarily feels the same way. It may have other ideas – i.e. back to the rat race. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “About the topic of karma even the sages are perplexed.”
~ Love, Ramji