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Self-Realisation Is No Big Deal
Morgan: Hi, Sundari, Morgan here… I wanted to ask you (if of course you have the time in your busy schedule) 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 (so to speak), way above the apparent body-mind-intellect, and for however many days the ignorance (remaining) is, to quote James, “dissolved like a salt-doll into 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 (as in reading and assimilating the website fully), 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 (maybe they’re more fortunate in a way) are just “shown” their true nature in a gradual, “easy” way? By the way, I know that nothing is ever that easy in this existential soup! Ha, ha… Oh, and, Sundari, I have told James in a previous email about the realization that “happened to/through me,” but sadly I have (by accident) deleted the thing. All the very BEST for the future… and I always say a prayer (for you guys) that the website and the marvellous impersonal Vedanta teachings continue to go from strength to strength. Namaste. I bow to the Lord within you, Sundari.
Sundari: Apologies for late reply, I have been in transit for two weeks and ShiningWorld never sleeps; we have both been busy, as always.
I am not entirely sure why you need an answer to the question you pose in your email.What does it matter how the self is realised? Epiphanies big or small are no big deal and making them one is a sure way to ensure that the knowledge they are meant to impart is lost or diminished. How self-realisation happens is unimportant, and so-called “all-powerful awakenings” have no more import than any other experience of the self. The implied meaning in your question is that “powerful awakenings” (we don’t like that term, because it is hyperbolic and the self does not “awaken,” because it never slept) are somehow more special. They are not.
Self-knowledge obtains in a purified mind that has the firm conviction that the joy is not in the object, and is capable of discriminating awareness from the objects that appear in it. It can only do this if properly taught by a qualified teacher of Vedanta or it will definitely interpret the knowledge through the filter of its vasanas. You had the good grace to find James and ShiningWorld. There is no other teacher like him alive on the planet. Anyone who has been taught by him has very good punya karma.
The main objective for you should now be to live the knowledge or what use is it to you? Nididhysana never ends for the jiva as long as it is interacting with the field of existence.
Morgan: I thought I would like to let you know how this “one” is getting on… I know now that the knowledge “what I know depends on me, I don’t depend on what I know” will never leave me now. I am established in the self as the self. Although the firm conviction has not been with “me” for that long, I can’t see it ever “letting me down.” I really am DEEPLY grateful to ShiningWorld.com for simply existing and providing a huge wealth of knowledge that can absolutely free qualified “aspirants” so damn effectively, and I really, really hope and pray that ShiningWorld will go from strength to strength… forever… Oh, and if you would ever like my help in any way… as in writing or anything that any of you can think of, then please, never hesitate to ask, as I would dearly love to be of service! Namaste, Sundari. And give my love to all the teachers and your dear husband, the main man Ram.
Sundari: I am very happy for you, Morgan, may self-knowledge continue to reveal the purity and all-pervasive presence of your self in every moment of every day.
Thank you for your offer, very kind of you.
Morgan: The implied meaning was not that they are somehow “more special,” Sundari… I was just wondering WHY? Ted answered the question, saying that it was prahabda karma, so that is all I wanted to know. I realized you were busy, so I asked the same question of Ted as well. He didn’t think there was an implied meaning, by the way. He just answered the question straight as it was intended. Thank you very much for the reply of the second email and the first anyway because if it is published at ShiningWorld.com then it may help other seekers/finders, but rest assured that I as jiva am definitely not fooled by experience. It was just a generic question. I hope you take this email as intended and don’t feel that I am being disrespectful, because I am certainly NOT! All my deepest and best wishes.
Sundari: No disrespect taken, Morgan, self-inquiry is about challenging not only the ideas in the mind but what gives rise to them. You did not get the reply you expected from me, as my intention in replying to you the way I did was to make sure you are not going down the wrong path with your self-inquiry. I could have given you the same answer Ted did, but that is not what came from Isvara in my reply to you.
Whether you see it or not or meant it that way or not, the implied meaning in your question was that your self-realisation was different, more special than other people who had less powerful awakenings. It is not. There is so much hype attached to enlightenment and many inquirers are stuck with the idea that not only is it an experiential big deal, the WAY you experience it makes it more so.
My question to you still is, what difference does it make? The defensiveness in your reply makes me wonder why you would need an answer to such an irrelevant question given that you insist that you know your true identity is awareness and not the jiva and you know that everything that happens in the apparent reality is all Isvara. Does that not answer all questions for the jiva? Unless you have re-identified with the jiva?
Morgan: I was being defensive, very true. I am awareness – impersonal, and everything that apparently happens is a power in “me,” maya? If so, message understood loud and clear. Thank you, Sundari. My intention was not to be defensive but, as you know, the power of ignorance dies hard.
Sundari: Yes, correct. Moksa is the hard and fast ability to discriminate you, awareness, from the objects that appear in you, 24/7. When self-knowledge has obtained in the mind, there is no more maya in it, although macrocosmic maya continues as always.
Morgan: Seeing everything as Isvara is a process, I think? And I am starting to see life that way more and more. Standing in awareness as awareness is the key, I know. The point of view that “sees” humans as beings doing things dies hard indeed.
Sundari:Y ou can’t stop seeing humans as people and there is no need to. Discriminating the objects that arise in you does not mean you have to pretend they don’t exist. Moksa, or non-dual vision, is complete and permanent understanding of how the field of existence operates – the forces that create it: the gunas (and how they govern the creation of all vasanas) and the natural laws that run it: samanya dharma (big picture), visesa dharma (how the individual relates to big picture/Isvara) and svadharma (inborn nature and tendencies of individual).
Yes, the removal of ignorance is a process and takes as long as it takes. As we emphasise so strongly, self-realization is just the beginning. It is where the “work” of self-inquiry should become clear – if, that is, one is not enamoured and making a big deal of the experience of self-realisation, which there was definitely more than a hint of in your last question. This is why I took a while to reply, not so much because I was busy. I thought you might work that one out for yourself. But instead you persisted and wrote to Ted, getting the answer the ego wanted. Just for the record, I have attached the eight steps of self-inquiry as I have formulated them.
Morgan: Rest assured that every day it becomes clearer and clearer, it’s funny but knowing that one is awareness is not “all she wrote” is it, Sundari? I know that Ram, and especially you in your satsangs, are always going on about needing the knowledge of Isvara and that is key to moksa. I now know it to be the gospel truth, as it were! All my love… and Isvara works in wonderful/mysterious ways indeed!!!
Sundari: You are right that the key to moksa is understanding the jiva/Isvara identity. Isvara and jiva need to be understood from the point of view of awareness AND from the point of view of the jiva to be free of the jiva and live free as awareness. The bottom line for moksa is that without full understanding of Isvara, moksa is not possible, no fine print.
James and I have written extensively on this vital teaching in the e-satsangs, and James’ latest book Inquiry into Existence is the most in-depth teaching you will find on this topic. Perhaps you need to approach Ted for more clarity on this, as you seem to have made a connection with him. He is a great teacher.
Well done to you for seeing through the ego and taking the correct approach to the teaching. You are quite right – ignorance is hardwired and definitely not personal. You took what I had to say to you as the self and not as the ego.
It is very common for the ego to take credit for self-realisation, and its tendency to do so is insidious. There is ZERO tolerance for self-aggrandizement of any kind if moksa is what you are after. As soon as the ego takes credit, the doer is back and so is limitation and bondage. How can it make any difference one way or the other if the jiva’s “enlightenment” is sudden or gradual when the jiva is inert? Enlightenment is not a happening; it is who you are. It is known to be such only by the removal of ignorance from the mind by self-knowledge. There is no doer involved other than Isvara. And Isvara is not a doer the way jiva understands doing. If awareness is what you have always been and have only ever been experiencing as the jiva, what is the big deal how the knowledge obtains in the mind?
Self-knowledge is grace and grace is earned, that is true. If self-knowledge obtains easily and early in the life of the jiva, clearly that particular mind has punya karma needing less purification than a mind that “takes longer” to purify. But – so what? You never gave yourself the grace, Isvara did. All minds belong to Isvara. And, as James always says, slow and steady wins the race. What often happens with very intelligent minds that grasp things quickly is the ego co-opts the knowledge, believing unconsciously that it is somehow “special,” which keeps the mind very stuck and limited. We call this enlightenment sickness, and it is common. A humble mind that carefully and steadfastly plods along often “get’s there” sooner. Of course there is nowhere to get to, because you are already there and self-inquiry is not a journey. However, self-actualisation and living the knowledge as a free jiva is quite another matter.
And remember, the qualities of “being there” (self-actualisation) are the steps to get “there.” The important thing is to live the knowledge moment by moment, not waste energy on evaluating or identifying with “your” self-realisation.
Once the mind is purified, humility is its natural response to everything in its environment (Isvara) because it understands there is only itself, awareness. It no longer sees “otherness” as awareness, even though it observes the jiva still apparently experiencing it. The jiva can and often does still project its subjective reality (pratibasika) onto Isvara, but it knows it is doing so in the moment and dissolves it instantly. Duality is understood and appreciated for what it is – enjoyed, even. But as it is not expected to deliver something it is incapable of doing, i.e. happiness, duality is never a problem for the jivanmukta. This takes so much pressure off the jiva because there is no need to make it conform to some silly ideal. It is just known and loved for what it is: a reflection of you, the self, in a mirror. As it belongs to Isvara (maya) and a product of the gunas, the jiva is never going to be perfect. But you are free of the jiva, and you know it arises from and depends on you and not the other way around. Then life makes sense and it is possible to see beauty all the time, even when things are not pretty.
~ Much love, Sundari