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Caught up in Spiritual Experience
Seeker: Hi, Daniel. I wanted to ask you about the assimilation of self-knowledge and how some of us never have “major/minor” realizations and just maybe get the firm conviction that “they” are the actionless, unconcerned self, and when the binding vasanas are neutralized they stay free, whereas there are people (like me, James and many “others”) who are “seemingly” lifted up into the stratosphere way above the apparent body-mind/intellect, and for however many days the ignorance (remaining) is, to quote James, “dissolved like a salt doll in the ocean [of bliss]”… I added the bliss part, as that is what it felt like to me. In fact it was the most incredible, happy “feeling” that “I” have ever had! This is in no way an arrogant boast. By the way, as I know full well that it was all the “Amazing Grace of Isvara” and also if I hadn’t been guided by you great people/teachers, then I probably wouldn’t have been able to understand, as I do now, that it was ALL Isvara. I suppose… well, I now know for certain, that one definitely needs the all-important knowledge of Isvara/jagat/jiva… So my question, I guess, is: Why is it that some people have “powerful awakenings,” like James and lots of others did, and some people are just “shown” their true nature in a gradual, “easy” way?
Daniel: You’ve already answered your question by stating “Amazing Grace of Isvara.”
Who knows why some people receive certain experiences and others not? I don’t have the answer to this. One can start investigating past imprints (karmas), which may offer some answers to the unfolding of certain experiences, but it’s not an important investigation. Who cares?
All experiences are the same size. Whether it be a mind-blowing spiritual disco or a washing-the-dishes experience, they share the same fickle nature. They begin and they end.
What’s important is to understand your ever-free relationship to experience as it arises within your limitless scope.
The assimilation of knowledge is exactly that: it’s the assimilation of knowledge, not experience. Therefore experience is not required to assimilate anything. Experience will naturally and appropriately be assimilated as you apply knowledge.
Besides, as inquirers we are not concerned with experience, because freedom is not in experience. Freedom is freedom from experience.
I’d also mention that a realisation or spiritual experience, no matter how amazing/strong, will not result in firm conviction. An experience may spark the path of inquiry, but firm conviction will only be fruited by the constant application of self-knowledge. Experiential freedom ends, and therefore is not enlightenment. Enlightenment is the hard and fast application of knowledge, the discrimination between what is real (you/sat) and the apparently reality (mithya).
My answer would be this: don’t get caught up in spiritual experience. Hand over the whys and hows to Isvara and continue to humbly apply the knowledge in all your waking moments.