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No Magic Mantras
Rene: Dear James, dear Sundari, I met James several times and in several countries. I am a yoga teacher living with Samuel, my husband, and our three children in Hungary. I love James with all my heart and respect him for his immense dedication to the truth. I cannot express with words how thankful I am to him.
Vedanta is always present at home. During meditation and consequent discrimination on a daily basis, when I cook, clean or drive I listen to James’ satsangs. Our children and their friends know him already and take him as part of our life.
Sundari: Hello, Rene, thank you for the appreciation and feedback. We are so happy for you that Vedanta has become the most important factor in your life, feeding all aspects of it.
Rene: I developed a very strong vasana for the truth and I am getting almost obsessed with Vedanta. I keep on reading James’ book and listening to the satsangs. Very often I feel frustrated while the jiva fulfils her job as a mother and/or any other role Isvara demands of her. The karma yoga attitude helps her to cool down, but she does not change her feeling of frustration in the samsara world.
Sundari: As a mother, wife, worker and inquirer, one has different karmas to fulfil which one disregards at the loss of peace of mind. Dharma is a tricky topic and one that has to be worked out 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 as a person – even though as awareness you know is 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 resolve all our karma in a healthy way for all concerned in our lives, if peace of mind is the aim. We have encountered so many inquirers who attempt to avoid their karma by assuming the “role” of the inquirer. Unfortunately, it does not work. If freedom from (and for) the jiva is what we are after we have to face our life as a person with honesty and accommodation. 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 without paying the price is loss of peace of mind.
Karma yoga is the key to living a more harmonious life. With karma yoga we come to understand that we are not the doer, so lessen the pressure of the conditioning (vasanas) that runs the mind. To dissolve our conditioning (render binding vasanas non-binding) we need to see it, understand it and dissolve it in the light of self-knowledge. For this the teaching on the three gunas is imperative to assimilate. I have just finished writing a book on enlightened lifestyles, which will be available at our website soon.
The karma yoga attitude is not going to fix your life or take away your karma, but it gives you the tools to help you deal with it anything in the life of the jiva. When you see Rene getting frustrated and angry with her life, take a step back and ask yourself who sees this. The secret to being happy as a person is wanting what we have, not what we don’t have. So dedicate that frustration to Isvara. When practiced properly, karma yoga is really dharma yoga because every action one takes is dedicated to Isvara; it is a consecration, so one automatically follows dharma. Dharma is nothing less than responding appropriately to what Isvara presents to you on a moment-to-moment basis. Peace of mind only comes with the realisation that you are not in control of the dharma field, yet in taking the appropriate steps to act according to dharma (personal and universal) and then relinquishing the results, peace of mind is produced.
Rene: I would like to ask you if you could recommend me a mantra to sing and pray for liberation.
Knowledge and Experience – No Magic Mantra
Sundari: The main premise of Vedanta is that you cannot do anything to get what you already have. Who you are is not up for debate. You are whole and complete, non-dual, actionless, unlimited, unchanging, ever-present, ordinary awareness. The only thing preventing you from living as the self you are is that ignorance of your true nature clouds the mind. To remove ignorance you need knowledge. No experience is going to produce lasting freedom, because no experience lasts. Only self-knowledge has the power to free the mind from bondage to objects. While it is true that yoga (meditation, chanting, praying, etc.) assists in purifying the mind, it can never free the mind from ignorance, because no action taken by a limited entity can produce a limitless result. All yoga is an object known to you. Yoga is an aid to self-inquiry; it can never replace it. So, unfortunately, there is no magic mantra that will work to produce liberation from ignorance. If you want to chant to help purify the mind as an aid to self-inquiry, any chant will do. There is no power in a chant or a prayer – the power is in YOU.
The only action that is capable of producing a limitless result is self-inquiry using a valid means of knowledge (Vedanta) because it leads to self-knowledge – which is limitless. While taking into consideration all the dharmic roles we need to fulfil – our personal svadharma and our dharma as a householder or person living in the world, the dharma that is an over-arching dharma for all dharmas (if moksa is the most important value to us) is the dharma of an inquirer. The dharma of an inquirer is to sacrifice what you think is true about who you are in favour of what scripture says is true – assuming there is a conflict between the two. If there is not sufficient confidence (shraddha) in the knowledge “I am awareness” then one needs to take a stand in awareness “as awareness” until the confidence comes. If one is totally committed to self-inquiry and sticks to it no matter what, the confidence will eventually come because when one’s idea of who you are is in harmony with who you really are, experience confirms it.
While there is no magic formula for liberation, it is very important, especially at the beginning of self-inquiry, to develop and stick to a practice of devotion. I have attached a satsang on the four stages of devotion for you to read. What is important to bear in mind is that, as there is nothing other than the self, all devotion no matter what form it takes is to the self – even if it is to a particular form or icon that symbolizes the self to you. It can be as simple as lighting a candle every day and sitting in silence. This helps to develop bhakti for truth and for Isvara, and best of all it brings great peace to the mind.
You need to find a way to manage your life as a householder so that you make time to subject the mind to self-inquiry while not neglecting your duties. Continue reading the scriptures – all of James’ books, watch the videos, read the e-satsangs at the website. There is no shortcut to freedom. You have to do “the work,” which is applying the knowledge on a moment-to-moment basis. If you have questions, write to us.
~ Much love, Sundari
Rene: Thank you, Sundari, also for your time and dedication.
~ With all my love, Rene