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The Dream of Free Will
Conrad: In the last email, the knowledge “Isvara is doing the work” gave a shift, a kind of subtle surrender. Still/also, intellectually, as real understanding, I seem not to really/clearly “get” this (true) point; there is also/still ego co-opting here, carrying of suitcases, identification taking place with my person.
Shams: The good news is that it is a work for knowledge, not for the ego. As understanding grows, the “surrender” keeps growing. But, paradoxically, when the mind focuses on surrender to this or that, it loses the main point. We don’t look for surrender, we don’t even want to stop the ego. The ego just has to get understandably qualified in order to be a receptive and obedient one, but there’s no goal here. The only goal is awareness. And you can only get to awareness by removing the ignorance about who you are.
Now let me ask: If you see identification with the person taking place, are you it? If you see the mind, are you it? If you see the presence or lack of understanding, are you it? You cannot be what you are seeing. So what are you?
Conrad: Specifically, a rather strong/old pattern/vasana of not disappointing people is prominent this period, at the same time of course this is experienced also as a possibility of getting more free here.
Shams: Why would this or any other vasana directly be related to the practice of inquiry? I don’t see the connection. Trying to remove strong vasanas via inquiry (jnana) is not a good idea. The vasana would never go away and the inquiry will never work naturally, as the mind will be busy. It would be like putting the cart before the horse. When a big vasana is bothering the mind, keeping it away from dispassion and stillness, you should discriminate and decide what action in the world would be the best, and then proceed.
Of course, you know better about your own vasanas, but I guess that, if you are naming it, then the strong pattern is not as strong and prominent as you think (again: if you see it, you are not it and you are not limited by it). What is the problem here? When old patterns are not dharma violations and don’t mess with inquiry, it’s not necessary to work on them. Besides, when someone knows his or her true identity, those old patterns don’t disappear. Knowledge doesn’t break patterns, it breaks the pattern of believing that you are limited by patterns.
Conrad: Could you elaborate on the “Isvara is doing the work,” please?
Shams: This is a fundamental topic. I’ll try to make it clear.
You are awareness. Awareness is not a doer. You are not a doer, so you don’t do any action.
Actions happen in you, but you are free of them. Movement, experience, time and space happen in you, like images on a screen. Everything just (apparently) happens (thanks to the illusion of duality) as you stay there, limitless, ordinary, untouched.
What do we call the field of action, the Creation and the Creator? We call it Isvara. It’s just a name, as is everything else. But that name points to the whole manifestation. And all the manifestation is action. Even non-action is some kind of action because, in the field, everything is changing, dying and being born.
We call the doer Isvara.
There’s no separate action, as every action is related to the whole and the whole is related to every detail, so Isvara, the Doer, is responsible for everything. And He is not only responsible, He is one with the everything. For instance, Conrad is not a separate entity, but he’s Isvara. Not partly Isvara, he is nothing but Isvara. Clearly, Isvara is much more than Conrad, but all Isvara is in Conrad, as the original composition of water (H2O) is in every drop.
What is Conrad in Isvara’s vision? A part, an idea, a wink. Not separated at all and completely dependent on the Whole. From the beginning to the end, every desire and fear, every action and thought is caused by Isvara. The body-intellect of Conrad and every life situation is 100% caused by Isvara. They are 100% Isvara. The good and the bad are also Isvara, nothing but God.
So maybe “Isvara is doing the work” starts to make sense. In reality, Isvara does all the work always because everything belongs to It.
For the individual, who lives in the dream of free will, “Isvara does the work” is not a statement about how things should be, but a realization about how things are. It doesn’t neutralize free will, but removes the stress of thinking that the world is on the shoulders of the person. It amplifies the view and it’s a good aid for karma yoga.
Also, it’s an essential understanding for inquiry.
Conrad: Besides, as well, over time, my person and its happenings are seen more and more a relative (and ever-changing) manifestation, objects in That which/who I really am; changeless, whole, “simple” awareness. The space and the light in which this life happens, in which everything happens. The light in which the witnessing of the coming and going of personal experience takes place.
Keeping the mind exposed to the teachings is, as always, of help. It does, over time, get directed more inwardly, e.g. reading again in James’ comments on Pandachasi by Sri Vidyaranya Swami, satsangs at the website and daily inquiry: writing down short contemplations that rise in the mind.
Shams: These last paragraphs sound very good, like you are on the Vedanta bus.
~ Namaste, Shams