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Self-Knowledge Cannot Change the Past
Sundari: Hello, Robert. James is also going to respond to your email and he will address the first part on dreams.
While I understand the familiar pattern of revisiting the past with the aim to resolve it, this is not exactly what we meant by Robert creating a new narrative. In fact what this approach can engender if taken past its usefulness is a kind of indulgence. It’s almost like you pick at the wounds constantly, let them heal and then pick them again. I call it “woundology,” where one gets unconsciously attached to the wounded identity (and its payoffs). The pattern this has created for you has not been helpful. The past is the past.You have spent more than enough time there and there is nothing further to understand about it. It is toxic. Stop going there. What could there possibly be to gain when you know you are the self and not Robert? Vedanta is for mature people who have let go of their story no matter how bad it is because they see it all as just that: a story.
We know your jiva narrative – and as experientially satisfying as it is to manufacture appropriate parents for young Robert, we are not your parents and neither is Vedanta your parent. While we are all protected by self-knowledge as jivas, we are not jivas. We are awareness – and as such we are parentless. What is there to protect?
My advice to you would be to move on, forget the past. Deal with now. Accept the fact that Robert is fine with or without his damaged past. Where is it now anyway? You can never heal wounded-child Robert or give him what he really needed, because he is not real. Only you, awareness – the knower of Robert – is real. The “past” is only in your mind and it will keep dogging you only if you keep it alive. Don’t make the mistake of transferring the need for a happy childhood and a protector-dad onto James or Vedanta. Robert is an adult. He is very smart and capable and all he lacks is the confidence to live as the self he is.
The Guna Construction of Anxiety
Robert: I need help with a bit of clarity here, please. This morning I was discriminating on the guna quality of anxiety, as I have not fully unpacked this.
It seems to be of equal intensity of both rajas and tamas, both tuned up to quite a pitch, fighting with each other, yet neither giving quarter. Depression and anger seem to co-exist in equal portion. There is an intense need to do, yet the doing carries a dull and heavy feeling.
Your comments on this would be most helpful.
Sundari: Yes, this is how the gunas function without fail. I call them the terrible twins. When rajas is projecting, tamas will be right there to deny it. Even if the rajas is sattvic rajas, if the mind is still under the spell of ignorance tamas will attempt to dull it. When the mind is resting in the self because it knows it IS the self, there is no need to meditate on the quality of the gunas. Why meditate on them? Just discriminate the knower of the guna from the guna and adjust whatever appears in the mind accordingly.
The Ridiculousness of a Jiva Relationship
Robert: I was reflecting on a conversation Susan and I had recently. I was writing and inquiring when suddenly the ridiculousness of it all came to me. This ridiculousness appears as a multi-headed snake showing a different form of ridiculous depending on the perspective taken.
A jiva relationship identified with the jiva cannot work, cannot be a platform for moksa, and to think it can is ridiculous.
Sundari: Dependence on a relationship to make you whole or give you something you believe you do not have will not work if freedom is the main aim. Moksa is about freedom from dependence on objects, so if moksa is what you are after the need for a relationship will stand in its way. The love issue is a big one for most inquirers and many people who have realised the self get stuck there. This is usually one of those foetus-in-the-womb type of samskaras: it has to work its way out. Very often, like in my case, Isvara sends powerful experiences which work to do the job of ending the need permanently. One has to be ready to give up the need for the “other.” If not, this samskara will keep popping up and will take great vigilance and constant inquiry to dissolve.
Robert: A jiva relationship stated to be based in self-knowledge, which states the relationship cannot continue because of the shortfalls of an apparent jiva personality, as that the personality is cast in stone, therefore cannot change or be different, is not rooted in self-knowledge. To profess so is ridiculous. In this case jiva is fully identified with its own likes and dislikes, not self-knowledge.
Sundari: What you are saying here is not very clear. You seem to be saying that your relationship with Susan was based in self-knowledge, yet she ended it because of the shortfalls she saw in Robert that were “cast in stone” and that this means that she is identified with her likes and dislikes and thinks Robert is real.
A relationship truly based in self-knowledge is not like any other relationship. It is not a transaction between two people, because it is understood there is only one: you, the self.There is no need whatsoever for the so-called other to fulfill any needs, so likes and dislikes are neither denied nor indulged. That said, the jiva is the jiva and it is accepted as such, with its apparent nature. Both parties respect each other’s Isvara-given proclivities, and should issues arise, which of course they do, they are instantly dissolved in the knowledge. There is no time lag here and no new karma is created. So there is never a desire to change the other, because the other is known to be the self. Nor is dharma ever transgressed, because peace of mind is the main objective.
Unless self-knowledge is firm and the jiva’s story has been neutralized by knowledge, a relationship will still be fraught with drama and unpleasant karma. If one is in a relationship and wants to continue, the only way to proceed in this case is with the karma yoga attitude, making a commitment to seeing the other as the self and worshipping them as part of your environment, i.e. Isvara.
Robert: If self-knowledge pervades in a relationship, it is known the jiva is not real, it comes from Isvara – is not who we are. Love that is rooted in the self identifies with the apparent other as the self, holding the “other” jiva in the same awareness as one’s own – not real.
Sundari: Correct. Love that is “rooted in the self” is known to be who you are. Love is not a feeling or emotion. It is your nature as awareness. Loving “another” as the self is paying attention to them. One does not love what one does not pay attention to. This attention does not involve obsessive monitoring or judgement nor is it emotional. It is responding appropriately to what transpires in your environment on a moment-to-moment basis.
Through discrimination the opportunity is created to identify with objects in a different way, thus allowing the jiva to make different choices and thus construct a new narrative that is as unreal as the first, yet has totally different apparent outcomes.
Discrimination is the essence of moksa, and without it freedom is not possible. As important is dispassion: non-attachment to results. With self-knowledge one understands the nature of the field and the jiva who is part and parcel of the field.
Moksa is not about making the jiva disappear; this is not possible or necessary. Moksa is about understanding who the jiva is, taking its nature into account and responding to it and its environment as the self. This means one always follows dharma, one’s own as well as universal dharma. For instance, if Isvara is asking for a particular response and one is not paying attention because likes and dislikes are in operation, one will suffer the consequences. So, yes, the contact one has with objects when self-knowledge has obtained is first as the self, meaning non-dual, i.e. one sees only the self and second as the jiva, never confusing the two.
In addition, what is also important for the jiva is seeing to it that the jiva has noble work for the mind and not indulging in gratuitous unnecessary explorations into the past.
Robert: Am I on the right track here??
Sundari: You are doing well, but you need to let the past go. Rehashing it as a way to deal with life is like having your feet encased in concrete and trying desperately to walk. Why make life so hard for yourself? Take it easy, be kind to Robert and let him be.
Robert: As a practice, is this not in a way “dwelling on the past”? Practically, what I have been doing of late is exactly this, tracing events in the past (and present as they arise) and mapping them to vasanas and the gunas, then discriminating the guna as belonging to Isvara’s creation and not me. I find there is no emotion in this for me, and if it does arise, it is quickly negated as object. I find I am still quite clumsy in the practice but is getting easier. ☺
Sundari: Yes, this is correct and an excellent grasp of the teaching.
As stated many times now, understanding the past requires that you look at all events in light of self-knowledge (gunas/Isvara) so that it becomes clear that no one was doing anything. It is about negating the doer. The whole point of the exercise is to drop the story – and to drop the dropper of the story. What is not helpful is a deeply-rooted (and mostly unconscious) tendency to live through the past – through wounded young Robert. The mind is in a vice-like rut of negative thoughts as a result. As I said to you previously, in order to discriminate the gunas one has to first identify them so as to dis-identify from them as not-self. It is not about dwelling on them or meditating about them. All three gunas are very predictable and play out the same way for everyone. They are not rocket science but common sense. It is helpful to know the typical thoughts/emotions that arise from each guna – and they are pretty self-evident once you understand the basic qualities of each guna – but only so as to discriminate them as not-self.
Robert: I still get stuck on the vasana/guna relationship, and have tried to express this confusion before with little success. If an existing vasana is a tendency based on repeated karma, how is it created out of the gunas if the gunas preceded the karma? The guna must have then informed the karma to result in the vasana? Isvara = guna = vasana?
Sundari: There are three forces in creation that make up the dharma field: sattva, rajas and tamas. Together these three forces make up ignorance, although it is primarily rajas and tamas that form the basis of ignorance because pure sattva is the nature of the mind. However, even sattva has a downside. In order for a vasana to arise, like any other object it has to arise from one or a combination of these three forces. Therefore it can be said that the gunas are another word for Isvara. They are impersonal, which is why we say Isvara is not a person. Everything in the apparent reality is the result of karma (action) because everything in the apparent reality is a result of these three forces. Anything created by action is karma. It can also be said that everything in the apparent reality is a vasana. We attach a story to “our” vasanas and suffer. All vasanas are coloured by the gunas, which precede them and in turn the vasanas reinforce the gunas in the never-ending karmic cycle called samsara.
To sum up: the gunas precede action because they are macrocosmic forces that cause the world to change. But action “creates” them too, in the sense that actions done from a particular guna reinforce the tendency (the vasana) for that guna to express itself again as karma. And all the gunas reinforce themselves too: tamas builds more tamas, rajas more rajas and sattva more sattva. The vasanas and karma are just two ways of speaking of the same forces, i.e. the gunas. Karma is vasanas manifesting and vasanas are the unmanifest results of karma. You can’t separate the vasanas from the karma in reality. You can say that ignorance (gunas) appears as vasanas and the vasanas grossify to become karma, which in turn “subtlefy” back into vasanas.
As long as you take yourself to be a doer, the mind is conditioned by the gunas, the vasanas belong to you and so does the karma. What we have been trying to steer you towards is this: identifying that Robert’s story is a result of the gunas (Isvara) which preceded and created “his” vasanas and the resulting karma. Seeing that as the vasanas and the gunas do not belong to him nor to anyone else in “his” narrative, the actions and their results do not belong to him, because there is no doer. No one is to blame for anything. Your parents, your abusers and everyone else in Robert’s story acted according to their nature, which was given to them by Isvara, creating the karma that ensued. If they could have been different, they would have been. But they could not be different, because they did not have self-knowledge. So it is only ignorance of the self that caused the suffering for everyone involved. Once you understand this, then you know the truth: there is no karma for the self.
What we are trying to steer you away from is this: Robert is so entrenched in the tendency of living through “his” painful past (fear thoughts) that he has become a construct of it. And as a result, it has become very difficult to neutralize.
The prarabdha karma that is playing out for Robert is the momentum of past actions, from “this” life and “beyond” it, from time immemorial (causal body/Isvara). A powerful identification with the story has created much suffering for Robert. The way forward towards freedom is to understand the story and to create a new narrative for adult Robert: one that is not based in the past or in fear.
The new narrative, which is not personal, is this: “I am a karma yogi, an inquirer. What I am inquiring into is my true nature, which is: I am not a person, I am the self. The person exists in me and is fine the way he is. I have no past. I am beyond time and space. I was never born and will never die. Nothing touches me. I am whole and complete, limitless and unchanging. I need nothing and embrace everything as me, always discriminating myself from the objects that appear in me. My seeking is over because I am now a finder. All I need to do is actualise this knowledge so as to live free as the self while still appearing as the jiva, with his apparent nature. I love myself unconditionally, which means I love Robert unconditionally.”
Here is an Upanishad that Ram wrote. I recommend that you print it out and it read every day:
The Song of the Self
1. I am limitless, unassociated awareness, here and now. I am ever-unchanging, eternal, actionless awareness, non-dual, complete and full. My nature is unconditioned presence, pure awareness, pure existence, absolute peace and unlimited happiness.
2. The macrocosmos, the creator of the macrocosmos and the myriad laws and principles that make up the creation appear like a dream in me, limitless awareness.
3. The human form is a microcosmic projection within the macrocosmic projection.
4. This projection is not the same as me, but it is not different from me either. Space in a room appears to be different from space outside the room, but they are the same.
5. I am thought to be associated with a material human body and mind due to ignorance, although I am always free of it.
6. So it seems as if I am a mixture of awareness and matter, like twilight is a mixture of light and dark.
7. Because I seem to be a mixture, I become confused and seek to find out who I am even though I am always present and known to myself alone.
8. In this strange condition it seems as if I am affected by ignorance, but I am not. My form is in one order of reality and I am in another. When there is smoke in space it seems as if space is smoky, but it is never contaminated. I am never contaminated by the thoughts and feelings that appear in me. I am unaffected by the body superimposed on my radiance.
9. When I am apparently under the spell of ignorance I know that I exist, but I do not know that I am existence itself.
10. When I am apparently under the spell of ignorance I know that I am conscious, but I don’t know that I am limitless consciousness. I think I am limited.
11. Confusing myself – awareness – with my body and mind causes suffering.
12. In spite of the confusion I am always unaffected by ignorance.
13. Knowledge cancels ignorance just as alkali neutralizes the acid in an upset stomach.When I imagine that I am bound I need knowledge to set me free.
14. When I understand that I am limitless awareness my individuality disappears because I was only seemingly ignorant. If my ignorance was real it could not be removed by knowledge.
15. With or without my apparent individuality I am awareness, free of knowledge and ignorance. I was never not awareness. I just thought I was a person.
16. Before my ignorance was removed by self-knowledge I was only indirectly aware of myself as awareness, but now I am directly aware of myself as awareness.
17. It seems like I am two, limitless awareness and an apparently aware individual, but I am only one.
18. I use the apparent person that appears in me to transact business with the world.
19. The apparent person seems to be alive and independently aware, but it is not. It seems so because I illumine and enliven it by my presence, like a ventriloquist enlivens a puppet.
20. At the determined time, according to the momentum of its past action, the gross body body dies and the subtle body goes into a potential, unmanifest state, the macrocosmic causal body.
21. I continue as limitless, unassociated awareness. I am ever-unchanging, eternal, actionless, one, complete and full. My nature is unconditioned presence, pure awareness, absolute peace.
Confusion appears only when I am associated with a human form. Why ignorance of myself as awareness and confusion of identity happens to me, awareness, cannot be explained logically. Also, why I as limitless awareness identify with the limited form cannot be logically explained. That is why it is called a “play.”
I always am the unaffected witness of confusing ignorance and the removal of my apparent confusion by self-knowledge.
Life Is a “Both/and,” Not an “Either/or”
We think of our bodies as either healthy or sick. But the physical body is “both healthy and sick” simultaneously. Every moment there is a balancing between BOTH the forces that lead to health, maintain life AND the forces that lead to sickness, death. We try to keep the health-forces predominant over the sickness-forces to enjoy a “healthy life.” But one day sickness will be predominant over health and the body dies. So we are both alive and dying simultaneously, but I am unaffected by life and death.
People have “contributory” free will, but not “causative” free will. Causative free will is determined by karma; nothing can be done about it. An arrow released from a bow cannot be stopped mid-flight. Contributory free will is the choices people make in particular karmic situations. They influence destiny. But free will and determinism are only issues for human beings. I am free of will.
“Both/and” applies to the Creator, the creation and the creatures – the whole spectrum of life, but it does not apply to me, awareness.
Robert: Jumping ahead, as I am still digesting the rest of your comments. With gratitude, thank you for the input.
Sundari (from previous email): In addition, what is also important for the jiva is seeing to it that the jiva has noble work for the mind and not indulging in gratuitous unnecessary explorations into the past.
Robert: Is Vedanta noble work referred to here?
Sundari: Yes. Vedanta is the most noble work there is and the highest dharma. Constantly recycling the jiva story is not. The mature thing to do is to discriminate you, the knower, from the gunas/vasanas/karma by seeing them all as not-self.
Robert: 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!
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, the 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), creating 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 manifest 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 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.
I have also attached an article I wrote on Isvara/jiva called System 1 and 2, based on Daniel Kahneman’s brilliant book Thinking, Fast and Slow. I think it might help you put Isvara and jiva into proper perspective.