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I Am Experience-Free
Seeker: Dear James, heartfelt thanks for your reply. I’m often stunned by the fact that you manage not only to reply, but at such a level of depth and care, for I truly know that you must have hundreds or even of thousands of people writing to you on a regular basis.
As far as looking for or wanting love, my feeling is that it’s enough that I do love, that I have love for others. And thank God for that experience with Mary was so painful – so unnecessarily painful – that I simply can’t dwell on or cultivate the attraction to a woman that I may feel for a brief moment since I can see the inevitable chain of causality associated with taking any action in that direction. In fact loving my ex and her daughters, and her new boyfriend, and being generous with them or loving my co-workers or the gardener who came here to work wonders with the plants is very fulfilling and not fraught with the snares that I know, too well, are associated with romantic love. So, so far so good on the renunciation front when it comes to “love.”
Panchadasi, Inquiry into Existence, is a beautiful book. There are two stunning statements to reflect on (and I am paraphrasing) – that “experience is an object appearing in me” and “there is no time,” In particular, this thought that “experience, the whole of experience, is simply an object appearing in me” seems to be kind of sword that can immediately cut through the appearance of anything that looks like suffering. In any case, I think it’s going to take me quite a while to work through the book and I can’t wait to see what’s coming. Thanks for your efforts to make it accessible to me!
James: I’m happy to hear that you have a handle on the love business; its a tough one. I was lucky insofar as the first romantic relationship I had was so painful that I vowed never to repeat it – and I didn’t. It took a while to get the relationship thing right, but because of the suffering of the first one, there was always a commitment to do it right – not to put demands on the person, to always listen carefully to what she wanted and to control my projections.
What interested me most in your email was how you zeroed in on the essence of moksa, discriminating experience itself as an object. Once you have fully assimilated this essential fact, you are free. We never think that attachment to experience itself is the problem. We are always looking for non-dual experience to manufacture discrete experiences that will take away the particular sense of limitation that bedevils us at any moment. So we don’t see that who we are is experience itself and that experience is aware of itself. The self is always experienced, there is no other option. This is the meaning of non-duality. When you negate individual experiences, you are left with experience in general, and when you investigate it you see that it is existence/consciousness/bliss – i.e. you. At the same time you are free of it.
~ Much love, James