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Loving That Apparent Self
Stephan: Hi, Isabella. Thank you for the reply; it is good to hear from you again.
Susan and I (and the “I” below is the limited self) are no longer together. It came as a bit of a shock to me, as we had put a lot of work into building a life together and our root was based in Vedanta.
Sundari: I am sorry to hear this, Stephan, we really liked her.
Stephan: Life in Africa is extremely tough. Taking care of business (which took some very hard knocks), supporting Ryan, who has developed some difficult traits, especially around school and relationships with others, and managing his mother has been financially, and for my jiva-wellness, touch-and-go for the last two years. Africa is a very tough place to be without finances, as there is no social or community support structure. Place on top of that the blatant rape of our people and country by our politicians, it is no longer a nice place to live in. The fear and aggression that permeates every aspect in life now has become extremely tangible.
Sundari: It must be very hard to be in the situation you are in with Ryan; I truly sympathize, as I know what it’s like to have a child with someone who is so “other” and unreasonable. Obviously, he has been influenced by his mother and there is not much you can do about that other than steadfastly teach him your values by living them. Other than this and loving him, how he turns out is not in your control.
Stephan: Susan has far greater worldly means than I, having been born into significant wealth, giving her great freedom in terms of worldly affairs. I guess I lost my way and care in trying to survive and match her means. I lost the care and grace that I had cultivated when we met, and in many ways, although I practised Vedanta in some small way each day (Ram’s videos play through the night ☺), and it was never far from my mind; I fell off my Vedanta root. I know when this happens Isvara intervenes. On reflection I see the relationship was adharmic from the outset (she was at the end of her second marriage), this in my heart of hearts I knew; however, my conviction was not firm. While our mutual Vedanta was there and I loved her deeply, there were significant binding vasanas that needed to play out.
Sundari: Well, that is the thing with all relationships. It is not possible to be free of the jiva if the choices it makes are adharmic – and there is no escaping the vasanas. However much we are carried away with desire at the onset of any relationship, ignoring the warning signs at our peril, sooner or later, the likes and dislikes will determine the course of the relationship. You were fortunate that both of you have self-knowledge, but that is no guarantee of success in anything, especially in relationships. The karma of the situation has to play out and it will, like it or not. As much as you know that this affects only the apparent self, or ego, self-knowledge is not a magic pill for the ego. It hurts. The thing is not to suffer over the suffering, which it seems you are able to master. As wonderful as it is to find that partner with whom we can live free as the self, the purpose of life is not to have successful relationships. The only purpose of life is to realise the self and live as the self, while still appearing as a jiva. Successful relationship will happen on its own as the knowledge removes all ignorance and the jiva frees itself from bondage to its stuff. This does not necessarily mean you have to have a partner. As your true nature as the self is love, which is not a feeling and does not depend on the presence or absence of a supposed “other,” one does not need anyone and there is never a feeling of aloneness when one has realised one’s true nature. One is complete with or without relationship. Even that most intense of relationships, parent and child, is seen from the perspective of the self. Keep in mind that Ryan has his own karma to work out; he is not your son. He is the self. You have done and, I am sure, continue to do your best for him.
The essence of moksa is to discriminate you, the self, from the objects that appear in you. So you see everything first as the self and second as the jiva, 24/7. From reading your email it sounds like you are doing this and applying the knowledge. Good for you.
Stephan: You and Ram were my main line to Vedanta, and that in some way was sublimated by the Vedanta bubble that Susan and I created together. It has come to my awareness (in the act of writing this) that through the trials and challenges of the last few years, my refusal to give up on my life, Ryan, business and Vedanta I (jiva) have developed a capacity and strength to do it “alone” in an environment that is not conducive to Vedanta. In many ways “spiritual practice” in Africa carries the same corrupt element of our ruling society, and one has to SELF-resource.
Sundari: I understand this must be very difficult. We felt the isolation that many Africans feel that are truly on the path to becoming finders instead of seekers. The so-called spiritual scene has become increasingly shallow every time we visited. This was one of the reasons for pulling out of teaching there. In this regard, as in all things, one can only see things from the self’s point of view, which is that you are never alone and everything is the self, even if it is ignorant of that fact. Stay in touch with us, we are very happy to Skype whenever you feel that you need a Vedanta chat or boost.
Stephan: In the midst of all this, Stephan’s lifelong existential crisis of actualisation has been intensified. Stephan has never really known Stephan, thus has always had a disturbed mind that comes with feeling that I am not doing the “work” I was meant to do – yet have no idea what that work is. Ram talks about this quite often, in that moksa can only be achieved once jiva has been actualised in terms of jiva’s programming and purpose. On the rare occasion that I am still, in my mind I create art, I sculpt and draw trees, yet my skill set and disposition seem so far removed from that.
Sundari: Understanding the jiva in light of self-knowledge cannot be circumvented if moksa is what you are after. This is the crux of the matter, and there is no way around it. As we have discussed before, this has nothing to do with perfecting the jiva or even changing it, but simply understanding it. If one cannot first identify the vasanas and the gunas that govern their creation it is impossible to render them non-binding. They may not be real, as the jiva is not real, but they exist, as does the jiva. And prarabdha karma (the momentum of past actions) will play out as long as it plays out. Stephan was born into a set of circumstances that he had no control over and was given a certain nature he did not choose. While it may appear that Stephan suffered terribly at the hands of the people who were supposed to love and protect him, everyone was acting according to their script. Seen this way, there is no one to forgive. Only understanding sets one free of our “past” and the deathlike grip it has on the psyche.
And as you know, only self-knowledge is capable of setting you free of Stephan, permanently, so take a good look at him in light of the knowledge. Trace every event and its effects (vasanas) to the gunas. You will see that no one was doing anything. Without minimizing the pain Stephan suffered, you can let it go. Stephan has come a long way, and it is about time he is given what he really needs, which is understanding and unconditional love. When I first met James he told me that he never censures James. He gives him full rein to run as far as he needs to because he always returns to him, the self. Even with moksa, our jivas are made the way they are made. If ever their stuff pops up again (which of course it does from time to time) it is easily dissolved in the knowledge so the mind does not have to condition to it anymore.
There is this tenacious belief in the non-dual world that freedom changes the jiva. Well, it does, in that it no longer chases objects or ever feels incomplete, which of course makes a huge change in the way it contacts objects, especially its own nature. But the basic nature as a jiva stays the same. It belongs to Isvara and it is what it is. Nothing to do with you, so why worry about it? Only if the vasanas are still binding does the mind still suffer.
As far as svadharma goes, you have found yourself in the situation you are in as the person with aptitudes business-wise that seem to run counter to your artistic nature. This is not easy to deal with, but it is also pointless to spend energy second-guessing what you should be doing. You now have the dharma of a parent, so you need to provide for your son. Do what you need to do without thinking too much about it. You are brilliant at financial work, even though it robs your soul of joy a lot of the time. Do everything with the karma yoga attitude, take what comes as prasad. Accept what you cannot change. When Ryan is older you could consider living somewhere else, doing other things or not doing certain things you do not enjoy. It would be great if we could all be like James, who has simply refused to do anything he did not want to do all his life. But to live like that, one has to give up wanting anything from the world, not easy to do when you are a parent. Take heart, find beauty in the stillness that is who you are.
Stephan: I am glad you have an art studio now. I still see Simon quite a bit, and your Buddha sits tall. I await your new books with great anticipation, as the subjects are precisely the areas that I would like to explore in more depth.
Sundari: Please send Simon my love when you next see him, I always liked him very much. I hope he is not still tortured trying to become a good Buddhist! We have so many Buddhists write to us who can no longer stand it and realise that there is something missing in their spiritual path, which of course is a teaching. There is no way one is ever going to “do” oneself to freedom!
I have had health issues this year which took a big chunk of time away from my writing, but I hope to have the book ready soon. Isvara keeps expanding on the ideas and taking the book where it needs to go. It is a big topic, as will be the next one on the jiva/Isvara. It is where all the work of moksa takes place.
The new ShiningWorld website is greatly improved and an impressive achievement. I suppose at the ShiningWorld site I am only focussed on the teachings, thus do not give it my typical “website appraisal,” and for me that is a welcome respite. ☺
Thanks for the feedback, so glad that the site serves you well. We hear from so many people worldwide, whom we will never meet, about how much ShiningWorld means to them. It is a voice for the self, pure and simple. James has done more than anyone I know for the sampradaya, and that includes the Indian swamis who have had an Indian Trust behind them all their lives.
Stephan: I guess this email has got longer than I intended. It is as long as it needs to be!
Thank you and Ram for all you have done, it is wonderful work. Chat soon.
~ Much love, Stephan
Sundari: Thanks for the appreciation, Stephan, you are most welcome. Our reward is knowing the knowledge works; one just has to keep at it, brick by brick. There is no fast track to freedom.
Let us know if and when you want to Skype, we are very happy to have some face time. And think about writing to Dan, I think you will be surprised how helpful he is. His contact details are at the website.
~ Much love from both of us, Isabella