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Both Knowledge and Action Purify the Mind
Terry: Hi, James. I would like to check my understanding as I think the knowledge that “I am already there,” (awareness is coming home). With this is the understanding that all actions the jiva performs (under the spell of ignorance) is actually an attempt to arrive at this understanding (for now I call it a “position”) of “I am already there” being awareness – whole, complete and full.
James: “I am awareness” means that I am free of everything. This is not something that a jiva can gain by doing something. However, everything the jiva does, knowingly and unknowingly, is aimed at gaining freedom. It may be that a jiva does not experience life in a free way, but this is not because it is not free. It is because there are obstacles to the experience of freedom. So Vedanta enjoins action to efface the obstacles, i.e. unacknowledged psychological stuff. The inquirer should not be looking for a big epiphany that will set him free. He should patiently work on removing the obstacles with sravana, manana and nididyasana.
Terry: Time is in fact desire (or desire causes the illusion of time) which equates to or is the cause of all suffering. The extent of, or amplitude of, the suffering is the extent to which the jiva feels he is “off the mark” or removed from the point of rest, that being “I am awareness.” Self-knowledge, the understanding that I am already there, am awareness, am full, complete and absolute peace, removes suffering.
James: Yes, self-knowledge does remove the cause of suffering – ignorance – but removing the effects of ignorance – psychological stuff – often takes action, i.e. changing the way one thinks and lives. If you are really convinced that you are the self, then you can rely solely on the knowledge to clean up your stuff, although it may take time. There is no reason why you can’t let the knowledge do the work and proactively do the yogas appropriate for cleansing the mind too.