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Magical Thinking and Shamanic Practices
Colleen: Paul and I, although still separated, have been doing some really good work and are enjoying each other’s time. I think the separation has done us the world of good. It’s interesting uncovering this jiva’s vasanas, then watching how they interact with the Paul-jiva’s vasanas.
Sundari: We were talking about you two days ago, wondering how you are doing. I told James that we would hear from you soon, and here it is! Thank you for your updates. As far as your relationship goes it sounds like you are working things out on the jiva level in a positive way. Dharma is a tricky topic and one that has to be resolved individually, taking all the elements of life as a person into consideration. One cannot deny or overlook the personal element and what that requires from you – even though as awareness you know it has nothing to do with who you really are. It is imperative to know the difference between satya (that which is permanent and always present) and mithya (that which is impermanent and not always present), but mithya does not disappear because you know you are satya. And it definitely will not work to impose satya onto mithya!
As the person, one has to face and dissolve all our karma in a healthy way for all concerned in our lives, if peace of mind is the aim. We encounter many inquirers who attempt to dodge the bullet of their karma by assuming the “role” of the inquirer – or trying to apply karma yoga to situations that are unworkable and adharmic. Unfortunately, it does not work – as you well know, the person’s life has to conform to the truth, not the other way around. And the person never goes away – nidididysana is the name of the game – NO getting away from that. If freedom from (and for) the jiva is what we are after we have to face and render non-binding all conditioning as it arises in the mind or we live with the inevitable blowback karma. If our life does not serve the Truth, we need to make changes that accommodate peace of mind. But neither can we run away from our responsibilities. There is no escape from dealing with the vasana load that Isvara has assigned to the jiva. Understanding the gunas and how they play out in the mind is key.
Colleen: I need some advice from you. This is going to sound absolutely nuts, but I need your level-headed advice.
I did some internal journeys with a woman who says she’s a shaman. I learned a lot about myself and my relationships with others. In one journey I saw that I had a contract with Paul from a past life in which he made me promise that I would never leave him. The shaman said that I need to break the contract, which I did, and that if we stayed together, it would be for better reasons other than obligation. Mind you, I moved out before any of these journeys took place.
Paul and I decided over the summer not to divorce, but to live apart and try to work on the relationship, which was a good move. Since I’ve decided to do this, the shaman keeps reminding me that I need to sever the ties or else Paul and I will suffer terribly. The new one she just told me this morning is that my father is stuck on this plane, is pissed off at me and is going to wreak havoc on my life through Paul, and if I don’t sever ties, then life is going to be just awful. She says that all of this is really Paul’s karma and that I can’t change it. And on and on. Note: This is the same woman who wrote the email about Vedanta which I forwarded to you.
I understand that there can be spirits, etc. but even they are all me. I don’t want to make any decisions about Paul based on spirits interfering. What do you make of all of this? I’m feeling that she’s really committed to having me leave Paul. To what end, I don’t know. I just need a reality check from you. You are so clear, and right now I’m so muddled.
Sundari: For a full explanation on this topic, please read my satsang Spiritualism, Shamanism and Vedanta, posted at the website this month. Frankly, we are surprised you have a doubt about this. Shamanism and other “spiritual paths” have their place in that they have a limited ability to explain something about Isvara’s psychological order, the gunas. None of them offer a valid means of knowledge for awareness. Unfortunately, for the gullible (which is most so-called “spiritual seekers”) such practices often pose as (and pretend to offer) self-knowledge when they are nothing more than a subjective means of knowledge for objects only. For knowledge to qualify as knowledge it has to be true to the object and not the subject; therefore subjective knowledge may or may not contain truth, whereas self-knowledge is not dependent on the object; it is self-revealing. Vedanta calls the subjective realm of experience “pratibasika,” which means apparently real, and the information obtained from this is dependent on interpretation. Everyone will experience this realm differently, through the filters of their conditioning, meaning their vasanas.
Self-knowledge resolves all pratibasika issues irrefutably. If you buy into that stuff then perhaps self-knowledge is not that firm. That woman clearly has her own agenda as we made clear to you the last time you asked us about her. She is arrogant and self-righteous and knows nothing about what it means to be awareness. Self-knowledge requires a mature mind, which as a seeker of truth with a capital “T” means we see pratibasika for what it is – not real – and slice through it with non-dual vision.
As Vedantins we are interested in moksa, not silly rituals or the so-called arcane and mysterious world of spirits, “channelled” information or ghosts. We are engaged in self-inquiry to negate the doer and render the binding vasanas non-binding. Only self-knowledge sets you free of it all. And when you have self-knowledge, all of these things that so fascinate the ego fall away and seen for what they are, distractions. They make no difference to awareness whatsoever, because they are all mithya.
The main reason that spiritualism, hypnosis and shamanic practices ultimately do not work is because they do not take maya/Isvara – and the vasanas – into account. All you will get with these practices are more vasanas for phenomenal experiences, hypnosis, New-Age, The Secret type nonsense and shamanic tricks. The spiritual option is bullshit because its underlying premise is based on duality. This “you are master of your destiny” idea is partially true in the short run, but it does not solve the fundamental problem of existential suffering: the binding vasanas and the belief in doership. It does not take into account the sad fact that the conditioned person identified with being a person (duality) is the problem in the first place. The ideas proposed by spiritualism will NOT produce freedom from bondage, as you experienced. Self-proclaimed teachers and so-called “spiritual masters” of whatever ilk (such as the woman you mention) abound in the spiritual circus. All they teach is ignorance because they are invested in their view of reality, which is dualistic – and personal. Stay away from her if you know what’s good for you. This kind of thing is not something that true Vedantins get themselves mired in, by the way. It is the stuff of “New Age” magical thinking.
Colleen: Thank you for your explanation. I could never articulate what you wrote but know it’s true. For some reason, this woman and the people connected with her have a vested interest in my leaving Paul. It really makes no sense at all to me. They are, as you say, lost in mithya. And yes, so what? To all of it.
Thanks you again for being so clear. Even as I was writing my inquiry to you, I thought that this is complete bullshit, LOL. But what a wonderful response you’ve sent.
Sundari: Glad to hear that you are on board with the magical stuff. You had me worried about you for a while! It is a tricky realm and one best avoided. When someone tries to tell you what to do in your life based on that kind of bullshit, run away, don’t walk.
~ Much love from us, Sundari