Search & Read
Painting a White Wall White
Jerry: Dear James, thank you so much for your very helpful answers!! It’s definitely a wonderful and unique opportunity to write and get your help!
Recently I was thinking about starting a Vedanta group. I felt the desire to talk about texts, watch videos, share ideas and so on. I talked to some friends who seemed to be interested. But surprise, surprise… nothing happened!
James: I’m not surprised. One needs to be qualified to understand what we are talking about.
Jerry: But I did a Skype conference with Shanti and Marlo and it worked beautifully, so it’s now a very helpful weekly routine! Thank you, Isvara!!!
James: Great! I hope more of the ShiningWorld people get this idea.
Jerry: By the end of 2015 I was through with all videos from the full set. Some parts I watched twice or three times. It’s amazing to see how understanding goes deeper and deeper. Even things that seemed to be completely clear can open new dimensions of knowledge when I listen or read them several times. Now I’m about to watch Panchadasi a second time. There are definitely parts that I didn’t swallow easily, particularly the middle part, the concept of creation and elements and properties. I want to go through it completely again and discover the remaining black holes.
James: Good. Constant inquiry is the only way to complete freedom.
Jerry: But here are some questions: (1) What do I actually need for liberation? As far as I can see, moksa is nothing but a clear and steady discrimination between me/subject and the objects, assuming one is qualified?
James: Yes, that is all it is. It should result in the experience of a steady current of bliss/love that is undisturbed by occasional vasana eruptions. The jiva should know it is limitless as consciousness and completely satisfied with itself as an apparent entity.
Jerry: Is grace earned simultaneously when the things above are realized?
James: If by grace you mean the constant experience of the steady current of bliss-love that is always present but unappreciated by undiscriminating people (i.e. unqualified people with disturbed and dull minds) that caused by original consciousness reflecting on the subtle body, yes. But grace is also the understanding that qualifications are necessary, the willingness to cultivate them, the wisdom to know that a teacher and a scripture is necessary, the commitment to inquire until the last doubt is removed and a relationship with a qualified teacher.
Jerry: Isn’t the practice of karma yoga a joke because all is created by Isvara, including the thoughts coming up? It’s all Isvara’s business anyway? ☺ I cannot give away something that I don’t actually have. How can a puppet on a string tell you, “I’m walking by my own power and because I want to”?? That makes no sense! So doing karma yoga by giving it all to Isvara feels a bit like painting a white wall white, meaning there is actually nothing to do. So for me surrender to Isvara is just a reminder of the way things are in the apparent reality (maya). I, awareness, simply witness objects appear and disappear. Am I missing any important step?
James: No missing step, Jerry. Karma yoga as a practice is a joke if you understand that every blessed thing is Isvara. The knowledge that it is all Isvara is jnana yoga. If you know this, you know you are not a doer, so there is no one to practice karma yoga. In this case karma yoga is just another name for jnana yoga.
Jerry: A friend asked me how something (maya, the creation) can evolve out of nothing. He meant pure awareness. I said awareness isn’t nothing. It’s unchanging and ever-present. Is that right?
James: Yes, indeed. The best way to help him understand how you can get something out of “nothing” is to equate awareness with existence. It is much easier to understand objects if you think in terms of existence. When people think of awareness they imagine that it is not substantial. But they understand existence as something experienciable. They know a tree exists, for instance. They just don’t know that existence stands apart from the tree. They erroneously thing that it belongs to the tree.
Jerry: Now my question: Is it actually awareness itself that creates or is it the power of maya? But if so, where does maya come from? There is a gap that I can’t fill with understanding.
James: Creation requires both awareness and the power of maya. Awareness can’t create, and maya, which is insentient, can’t create. When you put the two together, you get a creation. They are mutually interdependent as far as creation is concerned.
Maya doesn’t come from anywhere, Jerry. It is simply ignorance. When did you become ignorant of anything, craxotanoblerly, for instance? You are ignorant of it until knowledge comes. If you are present as a jiva, ignorance is simultaneously present. It has no beginning, because it depends on awareness, and awareness has no beginning. It is a power in awareness that does not affect awareness but is nonetheless necessary because without it awareness would cease to be limitless; it would be limited by its inability to be limited! As you can see, it makes no sense. In fact for moksa at some point you have to stop trying to make sense out of maya and just accept it as an illogical something.
Jerry: When awareness brings forth ANYTHING, it’s not actionless!?? There seems to be a contradiction in the logic.
James: Yes, indeed. As soon as maya brings forth objects awareness apparently starts to move! Note the word “apparently.” It means that although the objects are awareness and objects move, they are not actually moving. For instance, if you look at a full moon when there is a strong wind blowing clouds across the sky, it looks like the moon is moving! Or the experience a passenger on a stationary train has when a train on a nearby track starts to leave the station: the passenger thinks he is moving even though he is sitting still! Maya is totally illogical. I have attached a satsang entitled Is Isvara One Sick Bastard? that should help you with this idea.
It is good to see your understanding growing, Jerry. You can’t ask these questions unless you have been inquiring diligently. You are ready to tackle Panchadasi again. It covers these topics clearly. If you don’t get it right now, it’s okay. It will become clear at some point as you proceed.
Jerry: I’m planning to attend the seminar in Bad Meinberg because of the topic (Panchadasi). Should I attend the Bhagavad Gita in Berlin instead?
James: Considering the fact that you are on a more advanced level, I’d say come to Bad Meinburg.
~ Much love, James