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Self-Knowledge Ends All Questions
David: Hi. Before Vedanta came into my life, I asked myself a lot of questions about anything. After Vedanta has been in my life, I am not eager to ask so many questions as before.
Is it natural or what is happening?
I think Vedanta is giving me a lot of answers and confirmation of what I asked before, and I do not need to ask so much now.
It is strange, but actually it is not, I guess. ☺ In self-inquiry I still ask questions, but it seems to me the questioner in myself has diminished.
Sundari: Hello, David. If self-inquiry is done correctly, it will confirm what you have always known, that your true nature is unlimited awareness. As ignorance is hardwired, however, it will not disappear overnight. Considerable “work” is involved in rendering the conditioning that runs the mind (i.e. the vasanas) non-binding. It takes total commitment to one’s sadhana.
Vedanta is the knowledge that ends the quest for knowledge, and once fully assimilated by the mind all questions end because all is known and understood. This does not mean that as the jiva one becomes omnipotent or has knowledge of all things; that power belongs only to Isvara. Because the jiva is limited by its uphadi, the subtle body with its particular load of vasanas, it will only have knowledge of the objects it has contact with. However, as all objects are made up of and arise in awareness, it is possible for the jiva to know the essence of everything. In some people who need to develop all the qualifications necessary for self-inquiry, the first two stages can raise more questions than ever before, as the unexamined logic of their own experience comes under scrutiny through the application of self-knowledge to the mind.
The first stage of self inquiry is 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.
The second stage of self-inquiry, manana, or reasoning and contemplation, 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 ones’ conditioning, i.e. the gunas, in the light of self-knowledge.
The next stage, nididhyasana, applying the knowledge to your life, is where all the “work” involved in self-inquiry takes place. This requires you take 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 for to negate the doer and render the binding vasanas non-binding in order that self-actualisation – the final “stage” – can take place. It sounds like you are making great progress and are on the right track with your self-inquiry, well done!
The last stage of self-inquiry is 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 sSelf (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.
This is where there are no longer any questions or confusions about anything. The mind rests peacefully in the self regardless of what arises and subsides in it, i.e. it is no longer conditioned by the gunas, as all ignorance is gone.
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)?
~ Love, Sundari