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Cannot Be the Doer
Robert: Again, much gratitude and love to you both. Thank you ever so much for this!
Yesterday I went fishing, and on the drive out something clicked. It is impossible for me to be a doer! Ha, how ridiculously simple that truth is!
And the jiva is the “apparent” doer created out of the gunas and all that that entails belongs to Isvara, and I am beyond Isvara.
Sundari: Yes, indeed! The truth is so simple and so subtle it is impossible for the mind to understand until the intellect has been purified by self-knowledge.
If you just use common sense and think through how many factors that have to be in play to do anything – like get out of bed in the morning, walk across a room or even smile, it is totally clear that the constituents of action are not up to the jiva. Isvara is doing it all, yet Isvara is not a doer either. Doing happens as a result of the gunas. Without self-knowledge one is totally run by the vasanas/gunas and at the mercy of the ruthless karmic cycle, drowning in the unpredictable and ever-changing ocean of samsara. Knowing this, one can only have compassion for any mind still under the spell of ignorance. From this perspective, which is the perspective of the self and the only sane way to look at life, applying this knowledge to the jiva’s story, forgiveness is not only natural, it is an act of compassion to the jiva. One understands firstly there is only the self, and secondly how much pain everyone is in without self-knowledge and under the whip of their vasanas. Here the doer dissolves, as it is clear that all doing is being done by the gunas.
Well done to you for seeing that as awareness you are beyond Isvara. It is important to remember that although Isvara wields maya/ignorance (gunas) Isvara is never deluded by maya. Isvara is awareness plus maya in the role of Creator and shares the same identity as the jiva, i.e. awareness. However, enlightened or not, the jiva is subject to Isvara’s universal laws and dharmas.
The question is: What is the relationship between jiva and Isvara? Jiva can’t see a world that appears to be “out there” unless it is aware, and Isvara can’t create the whole objective world unless it is aware. We know that Isvara is aware because its creation is intelligently designed: it all hangs together perfectly, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding when looking at life in general! All unhappiness and suffering is not caused by Isvara but by ignorance of Isvara.
There is essentially no difference between jiva and Isvara except in their capacity to create. Isvara creates the objective world and jiva creates the subjective world. They both appear to be conscious because consciousness is the common denominator. This is why Vedanta says they are “essentially” the same. If this is true, then we can eliminate both jiva and Isvara as real and take ourselves to be consciousness.
We can eliminate them as real because their capacities are different and neither of them is always present. Isvara in the role of Creator is infinite with reference to the jiva, but not with reference to awareness, because Isvara in the role of Creator goes unmanifest at the end of the creation cycle. The same applies to the jiva because although the universal jiva is infinite in that it is really awareness, it only appears as a subtle body (a person) when maya manifests. Isvara is not a person with likes and dislikes (not modified by ignorance or the gunas) and the creator of everything, whereas jiva thinks it’s a person, has likes and dislikes (is modified by the gunas) and cannot create anything. The sun, moon and the stars, the beating of its heart, the ability to walk or smile or do anything is thanks to Isvara. Jiva only creates its subjective reality.
And we can eliminate both Isvara and jiva because neither Isvara’s creation nor jiva’s creation hides consciousness. It is always present prior to the creation and prior to the birth of individuals, or subtle bodies. You can’t have a macrocosmic creation without consciousness. Something had to exist before Isvara could “bang” the creation into existence. That something we call paramatma, pure consciousness, free of both Isvara as Creator and jiva.
Consciousness – me – is never affected by Isvara’s creation or by jiva’s creation. It is the knower of both.
Cause and Effect or Two Orders of Creation
Robert: Is this “because” there is only one universal jiva apparently appearing in many forms? The two, Isvara and jiva (when maya is present), create an apparently intertwined world of gross and subtle different natures, which make up our apparent reality of which I am ever free.
Sundari: Yes, correct, but read the teaching below on the three states of perception.
Robert: Isvara and jiva create an apparent world of convergence between objective and subjective reality, which is the playing field of awareness to apparently experience ignorance of its true nature in an apparent infinite number of ways due to an apparent manifestation of infinite jivas, which are actually the same?
Sundari: Isvara and jiva make up, or comprise, the apparent reality. Isvara and jiva are not co-creators. You still think that the jiva’s subjective creation has an impact on Isvara – it does not. Isvara is out of time and unaffected by the creation. If it were true that jiva could impact maya/Isvara then the whole creation would fall apart. Isvara and jiva are essentially the same because their true nature is awareness, but they are also different because their upadhis are different. An upadhi is a limiting adjunct: that which makes something look other than it is. Isvara’s upadhi is maya – it makes pure awareness look like a creator. Jiva’s upadhi is the five koshas, or sheaths (body/mind/intellect/prana/bliss sheaths), which make the jiva look like a doer. Your upadhi is unique to you, which is why you cannot know what I am thinking, and vice versa.
Creation has two orders or ontological categories: the cause and the effect. Isvara One is pure consciousness, free of maya, also called paramatma. When and where maya is operating, Isvara One appears as Isvara in the role of Creator, the subject or cause creating the world of objects, i.e. the effects. The effects change and modify each other, but the effects do not modify the cause. The gross cannot change the subtle, but the subtle changes the gross (these are apparent modifications of course). If jiva is an effect of Isvara then it cannot have an effect on Isvara. Jiva depends upon Isvara, but Isvara does not depend upon jiva, therefore they are never co-creators.
Isvara and jiva are thus in different orders of the same reality. In other words, whatever happens in maya does not affect the cause of maya, i.e. Isvara. For instance, if you have a thought or a feeling about an object, say you look at Megan or Ira and project a like or dislike onto them. Does this change them? No, it does not, no matter how much you may want it to. The object you are projecting onto may try to modify to your likes and dislikes, but this never works in the long run, because everyone is true to their own nature – Isvara. Or another example is, say you look at a tree and think how ugly that tree is, it should be gone. Does the tree disappear? Not unless you are hallucinating or take a chainsaw and hack it down. ☺
It is essentially correct that the subtle body, or jiva, is the lens through which awareness apparently has contact with objects (experience). Although awareness does not directly experience, without it no experience can take place. So it does appear as if this is a “playing field” for awareness, but awareness does not play, because it is not a doer. It simply observes, seeing only itself. For awareness, there is nothing going on here and nothing ever happens.
To recap: when maya appears (a power in awareness or awareness could not be unlimited) Isvara in the role of Creator manifests creating the world and everything in it (the effects). And Isvara wielding maya apparently deludes the self into identifying with the subtle body, which then believes that awareness is something to gain instead of its own nature. It appears as if awareness is individual and “playing out” in a multitude of ways, but as there is only one awareness and we are all it, there is really only one universal jiva appearing as the many. The conditioning, or vasana load, for each jiva created and coloured by the gunas gives rise to the jiva’s apparent individuality. This then gets projected onto Isvara’s creation, giving rise to the individual story the jiva inhabits and thinks it is defined by, suffering accordingly.
Once we understand the conditioning, we neutralize the idea of individuality while still appearing as a jiva with its apparent nature, no longer conditioned by the vasanas – which, although no longer binding, are still there. Like burnt ropes, they no longer have the power to bind. When we say the jiva is apparent, we do not mean non-existent. The individual jiva does exist because you can experience it, so no use trying to get rid of the jiva, because that is not possible. The jiva belongs to Isvara, so best learn to love it as it is! Before or after enlightenment, Isvara’s world continues as it always does – duality, or ignorance, does not disappear when we know what it is. In fact you get to enjoy it for what it is. Ignorance is only a problem when you don’t know what it is and mistake it for knowledge.
What changes everything when personal ignorance has been removed by self-knowledge is that jiva’s creation is no longer projected onto Isvara’s creation. Although the jiva still has subjective experiences, they are known for what they are, not real, therefore one does not identify with them. This is when self-knowledge has obtained; then and only then do you see everything as it is, everything is understood, all is known and revealed. No more mysteries. One does not have all the facts, because only Isvara is omniscient, but one understands the essence of everything because the essence of everything is existence: you. And although life continues with its ups and downs for the jiva, existential suffering is over. This does not mean that life becomes a bed of roses or things magically change for the jiva. They do not. Prarabdha karma still plays out, illness, good and bad fortune still occur; but as the self one knows that, as you are existence itself, nothing that happens in the life of the jiva touches you.
This may sound like the self is detached and disinterested, but quite the opposite is true. Only when one has discriminated satya from mithya and never confuses them again is it truly possible to love cleanly and purely. As there is nothing to gain or lose, there are no longer any hooks to snare or be snared by the allure of objects. There is no longer the fear of losing anything. This is happiness. And one can and does enjoy the limited bliss objects have to offer, not expecting them to deliver what they cannot, which is wholeness, or happiness. You contact objects happily, not for happiness. One then truly enjoys duality, after all, without it how would we touch another, eat a good meal, enjoy a sunset, see the self in the eyes on one we love?
If you have not come upon it yet, here is the teaching on the three states of perception:
Pratibasika is the subjective reality perceived through the filters of your values, likes and dislikes, in other words, the vasanas. This can create an entire world of seemingly real realities, from the personal past to the different hell realms, or lokas, the world of angels and demons, to the everyday world of how you perceive another person or anything else. This perception will be unique to the apparent person, or at least seemingly unique. This is called jiva srsti or creation, the subjective realm.
All knowledge is true to the object and not the subject, therefore subjective knowledge may or may not contain truth. Whereas self-knowledge is not dependent on the object, it is self-revealing. It can never be negated. Vedanta calls the subjective realm of experience “pratibasika” because it means “apparently real,” and the information obtained from this is dependent on interpretation.
This is also the ability to perceive the subtle realm of disembodied beings, the stuff of mythology and mysticism. The spiritual arena is full of this and many people are stuck in this realm, taking it to be real. It does have some benefit in that it can give one the understanding that there is something outside of the information available through the normal organs of perception. The insights available in such cases are much like the insights a drug-induced high or an epiphany can provide. The problem arises when more import is given to these insights than they actually hold. Like all subjective experiences, experiencing disembodied beings or states is of little use unless it delivers knowledge – and the knowledge is understood and assimilated.
The second realm, called vyavaharika, refers to the realm of empirical reality, such as Newton’s world of billiard balls and clocks, science and physics. This realm is apparently predictable and relatively stable. If we are both looking at a mountain, we will probably both agree that it is a mountain. But I might find it a scary mountain and you might find it a peaceful mountain, which will be our subjective interpretation. The empirical realm is where Isvara’s natural laws cannot be thwarted; they work out the same for everyone, regardless of how one interprets them.
Lastly, one has the realm of paramarthika – the perspective of awareness. This is non-dual vision, where everything is seen as awareness, as you – unchanging, limitless, ever-present, whole and complete.