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You Cannot Be in a State, and You Don't Have to Wake up (Part I)
Conrad: Hello, Shams, thank you, I appreciate it because mailing a few times will help, at least it feels so! I am more than 50 now and always was a seeker, since a few years seeing in some way that, as well, nothing has to be sought. ☺ My questions after reading your answer: I still have the impression that I am free/realised (“only”) in a partial way.
Shams: The problem with your assertion is that it’s not corresponding with knowledge, because you are not a person, and the constant concern about whether or not you are realised clearly refers to a person. The person is only an object in you.
Conrad: On the one side, I (more and more) often am in a state in which I am aware that everything is happening in/as Me/me, a kind of knowing/experiencing that the perceiving/perceived/perceiver is one, a way of being, presence, often very still, beautiful.
Shams: That is the result of either a sattvic mind or constant inquiry. And, as you are explaining it, it is more like if you are talking about an experience. So your inquiry needs to go deep (with the help of Vedanta) in order to have a clear understanding and the correct language. In Vedanta the correct language to discriminate between knowledge and experience is the most important thing because that is the only way for the means of knowledge to work in the mind of the seeker.
When you feel like you are in a “state” (remember that you actually cannot be in a state, because the self is free of any state, and you are the self) of bliss is the result of sattva in your mind. It equals clarity and detachment, which is very helpful for inquiry. The other gunas responsible for the states in your mind are tamas (fear, laziness) and rajas (anxiety, desire). But “guna” means “binding.” So even the guna of clarity and bliss, which is the nature of the mind, is a binding.
You can have sattva in your mind most of the time, but without knowledge it will be a heavy chain because the mind will get addicted to feeling good. And you don’t want to feel good, you don’t need the bliss. You only have to get the firm knowledge that you are the bliss. And that knowledge is just the removal of ignorance, which leaves the autoamatic knowledge “I am the self.” But sure, the application, the inquiry (and that is what you are doing), is certainly an idea that you sustain in your mind often, until every speck of ignorance is gone.
Reading what you write, I could say that you are in an advanced stage of the inquiry. However, is that a useful statement? I think that it’s more useful to remind you that you are also free of it, and recommend the mind to understand the nature of the self and therefore the nature of knowledge (and that implies getting the whole Vedanta picture).
In Vedanta, the development of a sattvic mind is always encouraged (among other qualifications related to the mind), but not because we see any value in the object (a sattvic mind) by itself, but because it’s the only way for the mind to understand and apply Vedanta. Now, as you have a sattvic mind, the inquiry is happening almost in an automatic way. That is a great signal and it means that the mind is okay to go. But the focus should be put on the knowledge of you, not on objects (and the states and experiences are just objects).
Conrad: On the other hand, I see (looking back) I still am identified often with my personal I, totally “forgetting” this free awareness and, for example, experiencing fears (which also feels like a releasing of old energetic fear).
Shams: It’s good to put “forgetting” in quotes because knowledge is not something that you have to keep reminding yourself of once ignorance is gone. It’s more like your name: can you forget it? Or when you are looking for a lost pen and then someone tells you that you had it all the time behind your ear. It’s obvious, but someone (the means of knowledge) had to show it to you. On the other hand, when knowledge is only intellectual, you can always forget it because you don’t know it for sure. However, the intellect is the part of the subtle body that is applying the knowledge when you do inquiry. The intellect has to get the accurate ideas about the self in order to completely remove ignorance.
Conrad: I thought about it of course, what this might be then when a partial realisation/freedom is not possible. I mention a few assumptions (of my mind). ☺
Shams: Well, as I wrote, this “partial realisation” is sattva in your mind, and in fact partial knowledge (but the knowledge of the self cannot be partial). Paradoxically, the ignorance that remains is what makes you think (and care) about the object, hoping for it to be “realised.”
Conrad: 1. Is this what sometimes is called the state of being “awakened” (a first step maybe, between not realised/unfree and realized/free)?
Shams: These labels don’t belong to Vedanta (which is the language of knowledge), but to the language of experience. For Vedanta, the state of the mind is important because after all the subtle body is the place where ignorance is removed. But we know that the mind is an object, just a tool for the application of knowledge. The mind is not conscious by itself. If we put the label “awakened” on the mind, this would only apply to the ahamkara (the ego), and the ego is just another idea. So that’s not an useful thing to do, and it’s not true. You are not awakened, because you weren’t asleep. You are the self. You only need to inquiry in order remove ignorance. Of course ignorance includes all these notions that are related to the confusion of superimposition: you take the mind to be the self when that is just an object in the self. The mind is experience-bound and always will be, but you are free of experience. You are free from the mind.
Conrad: 2. Maybe I am fully realised, but have still old energetic pattern/body-mind activity (I can sense it as I write this ☺ that says this can’t be true (such as the other vasanas that are still there). So the question: Can I/one be (fully) realised/free without being aware of this (fullness)?
Shams: You are fully realised because you are the self and you always have been that. That is the best answer to your question. As the self, you automatically know who you are. Look at this: how do you know that you exist? You just know it. And if you see it closer that is the only thing in the universe that you could know for sure. So you are pure knowledge of your self, and you always know that. However – thanks to the power of maya it looks like the contrary. So for a moment (but time is just a delusion), you take your self to be Conrad, who tries to become more like you, more adequate, more awakened. What to do? The common strategy of almost every path (mundane or not) is to try to get an experience of freedom, as that is what the mind is trained to do. So if you are looking for the limitless, that must be some kind of experience, isn’t it? No. The limitless is you. Moksa is just the knowlegde that you are always it.
When you know who you are, you know that you are not limited by energy or activity. That is for the jiva, and as I said, it is always good for the jiva to develop a pure mind, but you are not the jiva. For the jiva that appears in you there is still some work to do, and that work should be based on the application of a means of knowledge. So the response to your question, in the relative level of the jiva, should be: when there is no more ignorance in the jiva, the knowledge is crystal clear, therefore the jiva stops worrying about the state of the jiva because it knows that its true identity is completely free of any change, and the jiva, like every other object, is seen exactly as that: an object. The jiva won’t never become a special or awakened jiva.
Conrad: 3. As I read your answer, I move more in the direction of this alternative: maybe I am simply just/only mentally/theoretically free/realised, i.e. the indirect knowledge, a state of the mind.
Shams: The mind, like any other object, is always changing, and when the knowledge “I am the self” is not completely firm, all the knowledge is indirect because you take your self to be other than you. When you know who you are you don’t depend on blissful states and you are not disturbed by dark ones, because you know you are free of them.
Conrad: Writing this, I notice that it is the ego that “wants” to know/“have” all this, a need to be confirmed, and I feel a little shame. On the other hand, I realise…
Shams: Now you got it. The mind (especially the ego) is the one who constantly wants to get new labels that confirm its adequacy. But to feel ashamed for the ego is the mark of spiritual people, so it’s fine. Little ego will still doing its business, and you only have to remember that it’s an object at your service and the service of life. So it’s not bad what the ego is doing. Train it in the language of knowledge, show it its real place (as an object among the objects) and it will be a happy ego.
Conrad: It is also good/necessary to go on this path of clarifying, even never to stop, until all is clear/free.
Shams: Sure. This is exactly what the mind needs, and it becomes clearer as the desire for moksa increases and sattva grows in it. So I urge you not to stop and to get the complete picture of Vedanta. It would be a great a idea to purchase one of James Swartz’s books, How to Attain Enlightenment or The Essence of Enlightenment. If that is not possible now, you can start to read the more than three thousand pages of satsangs at the website that cover all the topics, and are written in a very careful language, always in line with the knowledge of the self.