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The Jiva Feels Overwhelmed
Tan: Dear Nick, you asked for a quick reply, and I was only able to answer you so late. I am sorry for that. But here is my reply.
Nick: Hello, Tan, here I am again. I’m feeling overwhelmed by karma.
Tan: I think this is the major point. It is not you who feels overwhelmed. You are that which knows the feeling of being overwhelmed. You are the knower.
By knowing the feeling of being overwhelmed you cannot be the one who is feeling being overwhelmed. Just let the person be overwhelmed. Let him be whatever he is. Do not try to use the self-realization as a trick to make the jiva better. “By being awareness I will no longer feel overwhelmed” is the ego talking to use spirituality and self-realization as a trick to make itself better.
Nick: The jiva wants to take responsibility for his actions.
Tan: That is okay. The person should take responsibility for his actions and act according to dharma or else he or she would be an irresponsible and potentially non-dharmic person.
But the important thing is, you are not the person. You are that which knows the person.
Nick: It just continues to search for experiences, like finding new ways to be happy, and it never is.
Tan: Well, the person has desires and wants to feel happy, therefore it seeks joyful experiences. There is nothing wrong with it.
Of course the person will never be happy via experience. Firstly because each experience will end in time, and secondly because the gunas coloring the experience constantly change from rajas to tamas to sattva.
So not only will the experience never be stable, but also the “color” of the experience from aggressive/dynamic to sluggish/doubtful to clear/blissful will constantly shift.
That is how duality is. It sounds like your mind has high hopes that the whole spirituality “thingy” will make the person a more spiritual, non-desiring, non-attached person.
It may or it may not. This is not about the person. It is about who you really are.
It seems to me you want to use Vedanta to make a better person. That is not what Vedanta is about. Vedanta is about inquiring and understanding who you are.
The person is an appearance in duality and it has vasanas, desires and moods. That’s it.
There is no way to make the person unlimited. It is limited through the five sheaths. The person is limited through the body, the body will die. The person is limited through energy, it will run out. The person is limited through it feelings, it will be feeling weak or overwhelmed or high and blissful. It is limited through its thoughts and resulting desires: “I should be detached, cool, Buddha-like and non-desiring.” And as a last sheath, it can be limited by its addiction to wanting to feel good all the time, blissful.
Nick: It can only focus its thoughts on one subject for a matter of minutes or a couple of hours, but then I’m back again to feeling lost and heartbroken. I just really want freedom, and hope you can be my teacher. There’s nothing I’d rather want, so please guide me.
Tan: If you are serious about understanding who you are and are not looking for a quick spiritual fix, then I will accept you as my student.
Are you serious about studying Vedanta?
Will you focus on Vedanta and not run off to any good, warm-feeling spiritual satsang action? This is the commitment on your side.
I have very little time and I only want to spend it with people who are serious about the matter. If you are serious about it, then tell me that and we will have a first Skype chat to determine what to do.
Nick: I only sometimes remember that I’m the self, most of the time I’m just looking for new spiritual teachings to make me happy, and it just doesn’t work.
Tan: Yes, it does not work, because you believe that freedom is an experience. You said you want freedom. That means you believe you can get freedom, but freedom is something that you cannot get, because you are already free.
But you have to understand who you are without a doubt. You are non-dual, unconcerned, unattached, actionless awareness. You are already free.
There can be many reasons why you do only occasionally remember:
(a) It could be qualifications – that we have to check. So your mind is not yet stable to focus on self-knowledge.
(b) It could be that you believe the “self” is an experience.
(c) It could be that there is still other ignorance or doubts that have to be cleared away.
Nick: Two days ago, after being completely thrown around, I realized: “Hey, you’re okay, you’re not doing anything wrong, you had reasons to do what you’ve done, and you’re doing just fine.” Then, contemplating this, the jiva remembered what James said about Isvara, that Isvara is the giver of the results of actions, not the jiva. I feel more freed by it and I remember the self.
Tan: Yes, that is all okay. I think there is still some work on discrimination that you can do.
Who am I and who am I not?
You seem to still mix up the identities of you, awareness, and you as the jiva. And just by changing the way you talk by talking about yourself in the third person, jiva, may or may not help. It is about knowing who you are. That is knowledge that cannot be shaken off by the way the mind uses words.
And you say you remember “the self.” The self is nothing to remember.
You are the self. How can you forget yourself? You may misidentify, but you can never forget yourself.
When have you ever not been there? Search all experiences. They may come and go and change. But you, who knows all of them, how they come and go, is always there.
Nick: I think why it didn’t make sense to me is because I only sometimes thought of Isvara, like something you know and just throw away instead of something the jiva can apply to its life. So my question is, just what is moksa?
Tan: Moksa is the firm, unshakable, hard and fast knowledge that I am non-dual, actionless, unlimited, unconcerned, whole and complete awareness.
This knowledge negates the doer (meaning any belief that you are a doer) and it negates the binding vasanas. That means vasanas that again make the mind believe that you are limited.
Nick: I’m pretty sure it’s not an experience; I believe it’s applying the knowledge of the self and Isvara to the jiva’s life, continuously. Is this correct?
Tan: Yes, it is not an experience. Applying self-knowledge is not moksa. It can lead to moksa by reducing vasanas, improving qualifications and removing doubts, but it is not moksa.
Applying self-knowledge is inquiring into who or what you are and applying the knowledge conveyed in the scriptures to your daily life.
But after moksa you do not have to apply self-knowledge, because it is hard and fast. You never doubt who you are.
Nick: A quick reply would be helpful.
~ Love, Nick
Tan: Nick, I am sorry that my answer took so long. Let me know if you are serious about studying Vedanta, and we can have a Skype chat.