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Richard: Hey, Daniel, I’ve been reading and watching a lot of Vedanta, not only James’ book, but also other teachers, like Neema Majmudar. Actually, I think I won’t go back to Mooji, Krishnamurti, etc.
Daniel: Hey, Richard, thanks for sharing your story with me. I’m not too familiar with Neema Majmudar, but from what I understand she’s a disciple of Swami Dayananda, a great teacher of Vedanta.
I'm glad that you’re out the Neo circus.
Richard: I would like to tell you a bit about my journey, so if you’ve got the patience, I'll keep it short.
I went to high school, took all kinds of drugs and had a psychotic episode. I thought all kinds of crazy things… spent the next two years in a deep, deep depression. Then all of a sudden I slowly started gaining clarity, and got introduced to spirituality. My mind wasn’t wandering off anymore. I felt like I was on a deep spiritual journey where I had to completely rediscover myself. I just wanted to get to the bottom of reality. I just wondered “what’s happening around me” and knew that I had to get to the bottom of things.
When I first heard the word “enlightenment” I knew that that’s what I had to go for. I heard about awareness, and every day I was completely absorbed in faith, a very, very strong motivation to reach “enlightenment.” I felt my mind becoming more pure as I went on, and one day I pictured awareness in my mind and thought, “Could that be me?” It seemed impossible at the time.
Then for the next six months I meditated heavily and felt like I got rid of my attachments, desires and anything that makes a human feel limited. It certainly didn’t feel like a “worldly” pursuit. Then on one day, as I was taking a bath, it seemed like everything stopped.
I felt like I had merged with the Absolute, and knew that I couldn’t lose this. It was not an experience, like an epiphany or some sort of spiritual “high.” It just was a realization; on the one hand I can say it changed everything and on the other it changed nothing. It changed the way I view myself but it didn’t change the environment around me. I still had to live my life, you know, make the best of it, while having realized “I am awareness.”
Daniel: Your story is not uncommon. Isvara had given you a role that had served you in developing a number of qualities that you are now applying. What happened is a gift from Isvara, prasad.
The most important qualification for enlightenment, a burning desire for freedom (mumukshutva), is clear in your story and has carried you through to this point, a point which is totally on-point!
Richard: Like James says in his book, it’s like the object switches with the subject. The self, which was an object, becomes the subject and the individual, before taken to be the subject, becomes the object. This is as clear as I can explain it.
Daniel: Exactly. This clarity is all there is to practice. By practice I mean the stage of nididhyasana.
Nididhyasana is applying the knowledge to your life and 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 requalify. 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.
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.
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.
You’re right on-track with your self-inquiry, Richard.
Richard: I used to think of it as being special; now I think nothing of it.
Daniel: It’s special and not special. It’s special because it eliminates suffering and the sense of limitation for the jiva. But it’s not special as you, awareness, have never been limited to begin with. Also, there is nothing other than you to compare with.
Richard: I also like what James said about a mistake in understanding corrected: just because you’ve had a misunderstanding corrected, it doesn't mean that you won’t make the mistake again. Because it depends on perception, and the self, which is always present, doesn’t.
Daniel: Yup, the application of self-inquiry is a continuous practice. Knowledge may come in flash but it does not remain without constant exposure to the teachings. Knowledge needs to be firm, fast and direct. Hence the long comment on nididhyasana.
Correct, you do not depend on anything and are self-revealing, always.
Richard: James said an enlightened person does not think he is enlightened. Of course, why would he/she? The thing which is realised, the self, is always present whether jiva thinks about it or not.
Daniel: This is another one of those “yes and no” answers. But yes, an enlightened person understands that there is no person to actually enlighten, and that there is only one self-lit self who has always been the light.
Correct, you are present whether the jiva knows it or not.
Richard: When I first came to “traditional” Vedanta I thought there was something “beyond” realisation, which is impossible, because the thing realised is the self, and “beyond” the self there is nothing. And if somebody says they’ve gone beyond the self, they’re talking about an experience, which is appearing IN the self.
Daniel: Exactly, everything appears within you, awareness. An experience is just an object to/in you.
Richard: Vedanta helped me to put things into perspective. It showed me that my realisation is nothing special. It showed me that Neo-Advaita is a heap of bogus. Why? Because there already exists a whole teaching for self-realisation! So why cook things up which are your personal opinions? You’re only going to get in trouble because of it. If these Neo-Advaita teachers weren’t so obsessed with realisation and looked into the true Vedanta teachings, they’d see it is nothing special. But, “Oh, no! I know better than you, so therefore listen to me!,” is what they all appear to be saying.
Daniel: That’s all that Vedanta does, it equips us with a complete toolkit that aligns our thinking and perspective with reality.
Vedanta takes our experiences and arranges them in a way that gives us a perfect appreciation of our true nature and purpose. It just plugs you into the deeper part of yourself, the part that knows, the part that sees, the part that contains and resolves life’s dualities into the non-dual vision.
Yup, the Neos are confused. I wouldn’t bother too much about them though, Richard.
You’re on the Vedanta bus now, so you can sit back, relax and have full confidence in the teachings whilst you continue to reflect on them.
You’re doing perfectly, Richard.
~ Much love, Daniel