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Identify Conditioning to Dis-identify
Kaleem: Thanks for your response, which was most appreciated; it has brought more insight and clarity to me.
I really get it that self-knowledge is the remover of ignorance of duality. I often find vrittis from my vasana present and they reflect themselves in my consciousness without my knowledge or consent, which appears to be an involuntary action which I have no control over, that disconnects me from staying in my beingness.
Sundari: An interesting question to ask about this paragraph is, from whose perspective is it written? Who does the “I” refer to? Is it the jiva who identified with being a jiva talking? Is it the jiva who knows about awareness talking? Or is it the jiva who knows it is awareness talking? I think you will find that the answer is not the last option, but a mixture of the first two. Consciousness is not personal; it does not belong to the jiva. Consciousness is all there is – and the jiva (Kaleem), or experiencing entity, is an object known to it.
As stated previously, all thoughts arise from vasanas – and all vasanas are governed by the gunas. This means vrittis (thoughts) are vasanas too. And as we determined, all vasanas originate from the gunas, or Isvara, the causal body. It seems like we are individual jivas, but there really is only one jiva manifesting as the apparent multiplicity. Duality is a superimposition onto non-duality, brought about by maya.
Although all three gunas are operating all the time, all jivas have a predominant guna.This will determine how the seemingly personal conditioning of the jiva plays out – and to a great degree the thoughts that arise in the mind – although many thoughts have no discernible association to the individual at all. They arise from the macrocosmic mind, or macrocosmic vasanas. Examples are anxiety, fear, rage, denial, lust, greed, etc.
Your “beingness” is awareness, sat. The true nature of the mind is sat, of which sattva is the most subtle manifestation. One can maximize the possibility of peace of mind through appropriate sattvic actions such as self-inquiry, meditation, yoga, correct, or dharmic, lifestyle, etc. The main aim of self-inquiry is peace of mind. When rajas and tamas, which are the two main troublemakers, are brought into balance with sattva peace of mind is automatically experienced because it has been there all along, covered by ignorance
Kaleem: Since Isvara is in control of the vasanas, how can I stop this from happening so I can remain undisturbed? I have tried accepting the fact it is so, to ignore it and even put a lot of attention on the fact they are just thoughts rising and falling in my consciousness, this involuntary action still allows the thoughts to rise and explode like a bubble with all its toxicity.
Sundari: Again, who does the “I” refer to that wants to “remain undisturbed” and to accept or ignore thoughts as they arise in the mind? Who is trying to control the vasanas?
Kaleem: Taking responsibility, reconciling with my karmas, practising dharma, have all helped, but have not quite eliminated this problem.
Is there a way to reinforce the awareness to be more prevalent or a way to diffuse the vasanas that you can prescribe?
Sundari: There is no way to reinforce awareness, because it is who you are. You cannot become more conscious or aware. The mind can only become less ignorant of its true nature as awareness. The only way to remove ignorance and reduce the pressure of the vasanas/vrittis, rendering them non-binding, is through self-knowledge, as you know.This means negating the doer, the one identified with being a person. It does not happen overnight because ignorance is hardwired. This is why the qualifications for moksa are so important. Along with the main qualifications required, such as discrimination and dispassion, faith in the scripture, total dedication to self-inquiry is what it takes to “do the work.
Although the conditioning that runs the mind does not belong to the jiva, the jiva still needs to understand what conditions it. Only through understanding can the conditioning be negated. One must first identify the conditioning in order to dis-identify with it. The most important attitude you can bring to self-inquiry is the application of karma yoga. This is to negate the doer, the one anxious for certain results. Results are not up to the doer. Prarabdha karma, the momentum of past actions, will play out as long as it plays out. It is very important to clean up one’s karma and follow dharma, but very often this does not instantly lead to freedom from the doer. The blades of the fan will turn as long as they turn. Continue with your sadhana, subject the mind with single-pointed focus to the scripture, practice the knowledge by taking a stand in awareness as awareness, track every thought, word and deed from the point of view of awareness. When you find the mind reverting to thinking as the doer, simply correct it. Be patient; ignorance has ruled the mind for a long time. It is not going to disappear overnight.
Kaleem: I have been listening to James’ teaching and read most of his materials and quite a lot of his satsangs.
I would appreciate it if you can give me some tips…
Sundari: These are the four stages to self-inquiry:
1. Sravana: Listening, or hearing the scripture. This requires that you leave everything you previously believed or thought you knew temporarily on the shelf. You can take your beliefs back if self-knowledge does not work for you, but for now leave them on the shelf. This is very important; if you keep comparing Vedanta to all your beliefs and opinions and try to make it comply with them, forget about self-inquiry. Vedanta is a radical teaching; it is counter-intuitive; expect it to challenge everything you thought you knew.
2. Manana: Reasoning, contemplation. This is thinking about what the scripture is saying, examining the unexamined logic of your own experience. At this point you look at your beliefs and opinions in the light of what the scripture says, NOT the other way around. One determines if all the qualifications necessary for moksa are present, one examines and identifies one’s conditioning in light of self knowledge, i.e. the gunas.
3. Nididhyasana: Applying the knowledge to your life; taking a stand in awareness as awareness. If the mind is still agitated by rajas and tamas because all the qualifications are not in place, one has to go back and re-qualify.There is no other way to negate the doer and render the binding vasanas non-binding in order that self-actualisation – the final “stage” – can take place.
4. Self-actualisation: Once the knowledge is firm, one sees everything from the point of view of awareness first, second as the jiva, and one never confuses the two again. This is discriminating the self, you (satya), from the objects that appear in you (mithya) at all times. Self-actualisation is the consistent, total application of self-knowledge to one’s life. To be self-actualised means (1) that one has fully discriminated the self (consciousness) from the objects appearing in it (all objects, meaning all gross objects as well as one’s conditioning, thoughts and feelings – all experience) and (2) that that knowledge has (a) rendered the binding vasanas non-binding and (b) negated one’s sense of doership.
Unless self-knowledge translates fully into the life of the person it cannot be said that self-actualisation has taken place, because the person will still be identified with certain aspects of being a person. In other words, binding vasanas and the sense of doership, or egoic belief in separation, will still be causing agitation in the mind. In order for existential suffering to end and for awareness to be one’s primary identity, the person needs to be free of the idea of being a person in order to live free as the self. What is the point of self-realisation if the mind is still under the tyranny of its likes and dislikes (vasanas)?
One can only fully actualise self-knowledge when you have understood the identity between awareness, Isvara and the jiva. This is where most people get stuck (or come un-stuck) in their self-inquiry, and it is why many self-realised people do not self-actualise. Understanding Isvara is the key. This is one of the most important teachings in Vedanta.
The teaching on the gunas and Isvara – jiva identity is what is essential for the “work” involved in self-inquiry. I have attached an article on this teaching. I strongly suggest you use the search function at the e-satsang section of the website as well as also read up on what James has to say in his books on this teaching. There has been a great deal written on this topic as well as taught in James’ videos. We are both in the process of writing books on this very important teaching.
~ Om and prem, Sundari