Search & Read
James: You say your ego looks for validation from others. The question is why. The answer is always because you don’t pay proper attention to your real self. If you did you would feel good about yourself and you would not need validation from others
Jason: How do I pay proper attention to my Real Self?
James: By following the dharma of an inquirer. This is an excellent email from you. You seem to have got the message. All that is required is a change of attitude based on the knowledge that I presented in the last email. I further refine it in this one.
Jason: The second issue relates to karma yoga. It is okay to want certain results from the world when you enter the karma yoga stage, but the most essential fact that underlies the whole notion of karma yoga… it is just common knowledge, actually… is that the results of your actions, i.e. serving people, are not up to you. So there is no sense worrying about what people think, because it is out of your hands.
So the impression people have of me as a religious leader and/or musician, husband, father, etc. is the result I am seeking, and this is not up to me. Okay, this seems logical enough.
In any case it seems you are saying the reason I seek validation is because I feel inadequate. I can accept that. Once I remove the surface tension of any particular situation, that is the underlying feeling.
James: You are actually a pretty healthy, self-aware person, just a bit confused, less so, it seems, as I read this letter.
James (from previous email): The whole motivation is wrong, Jason. Being a loving father and looking after others is its own reward. If you aren’t doing it for yourself you shouldn’t be doing it. Unfortunately, because life is a zero-sum game, not doing your duty is not an option either. So you are stuck. The way out is to do actions to purify your mind, not to get recognition from others. That is the purpose of karma yoga. It takes care of your emotions. If you are doing your life as karma yoga pleasant and unpleasant circumstances are the same. You don’t care, because you surrender to both and thus you neutralize the likes and dislikes that are causing the problem.
Jason: How do I purify the mind? By simply doing the same actions I was already doing, with a smile and not expecting any recognition or particular result? Is this Vedanta’s recommendation?
James: Yes, indeed! Nothing has to change except your attitude. Do what you do as an offering to God and take what It offers as a gift. Consecrate every action before you do it. In this way you will not do self-insulting actions or actions that injure others. Vedanta’s recommendation is based on a very simple fact of life – results are not up to the doer. If they were, the doer would have everything it wants and would be able to avoid everything it doesn’t.
Your reasons for wanting to get rid of everything are wrong. In any case you can’t throw it all away, because God will just create new circumstances that will force to look at the real problem. You can only change your attitude. It is petulant and self-indulgent. You are feeling sorry for yourself. You feathered your nest and now you don’t want to sit in it. Man up, Jason! Karma yoga is an attitude of gratitude with respect to actions and its results. The logic behind it is impeccable. See the logic and you can’t help but assume the attitude. It is the way out. You need Vedanta, a clear way of seeing, one that gets you out of this mess.
Jason: My egotistic life has been dedicated to actions that are meant to produce recognition, this is what has produced my “duty.” If I abandon my duty (stop running ceremonies, stop playing music, stop being married) I will repeat this scenario in a different context. There will be another compulsive action brought on by the causal self, which will produce the same result. So stop trying to be free of circumstance and learn to love the cage, that is the way out. Am I hearing this all correctly?
James: You are hearing it loud and clear, Jason! Good for you. The cage is only in your mind. You are not in it. It is in you, the Great Spirit. If there are aspects of your life that are producing cognitive dissonance, examine the thoughts/actions that are producing them and contravene them with the opposite actions. Where you find yourself grasping, give. Where you are fearful, love. Etc.
Jason: I am to find serenity in accepting the things I cannot change because there is only ONE self and that is the self I must be true to, not the individual inadequate self. My own desires are to be ignored until they give up and go away.
James: This is the most important understanding that you express in this email. This is the “shift” of orientation from the ego to the self. Do what’s right for the real you, not the Jason-ego. It isn’t all that easy, because of the tendencies you have built up over the years but you are still relative young. If you waited another ten years it would probably be too late – the vasanas would probably be too strong to neutralize.
Jason: It seems really counter-intuitive and I just want to clarify what you are saying, the total opposite of my previous understanding of the saying “to thine own self be true.” I was being true to the desires of my individual self, but those desires were based in an effort to overcome my sense of inadequacy. But it didn’t work, no matter how well I perform and gain the recognition of others, I still feel inadequate. Even if I became the chief of all chiefs and had a hundred wives and everyone loved me, I would still find a reason to feel like shit.
James: Vedanta is completely “counter-intuitive.” This is why so few people are capable of understanding it. It is completely radical, contradicts what in the World of Lies is common sense: look out after old Number One – meaning your fearful, desire-ridden ego – and fuck everything else.
The heart that gives, gathers.
Jason: So make my bed, pick up my socks, go to soccer games, help people pray for God’s stuff, continue fucking the same woman for the rest of this incarnation and play music for people when called to do so. Do all this with a smile and it will lead to freedom.
Is this the size of it?
James: Yes, indeed!