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Is It Really Relevant, the Bliss or the Not-Bliss in You?
Conrad: Yes, for sure, all this is not about experiences and states, positions. It is known, and also true, reminding still was/is of help. The same was/is true for “you are not an object.” There is not, never was, a “wanting of self-realization” perceivable; moreover, it looks like a mix of a deep, hardly-conscious, longing and, recently stronger, a being drawn towards it by life, by Isvara, by the Self.
Shams: I’m afraid that I don’t understand this last asseveration. Remember that the burning desire for realization is one of the main qualifications for the mind. Instead, you found that you are “being drawn towards.” Towards what?
Conrad: This expression that I yesterday read looks to be a good reflection of “where I find myself” now: “I, the light of pure Knowing, who lives at the heart of all experience, am completely vulnerable and, at the same time, utterly indestructible.”
I would like to ask you to comment on it, if possible, because (now that this sentence resonates) looking at this saying from the point of view of Vedanta seems to be a further help now.
Shams: I don’t know what is the context, but the problem with this kind of assertion is that it could be very misleading. It’s true that you are the self, and you might want to call it “light of pure Knowing” because, as awareness, you are the light that illumines everything and always knows itself (although you are free from knowing as an action). The expression “who lives at the heart of all experience” is not very accurate though, because actually experience appears in the self. Therefore the self is not only at the heart of experience, but every part of experience means the self and is the self. I agree that, in some context, it could mean that every experience is pointing to the self. But let’s not imagine that the self is some little object residing somewhere in the world. It’s just you, as experience is just you. Also, for the sake of non-duality, someone could say that the self is both vulnerable and indestructible, but there are just words in human terms. The self is free from both. When we have to choose one label, we prefer “indestructible” because only the objects are subject to destruction and construction, and the self is not an object.
In some contexts this phrase could work, but its language is rooted in experience. So, for you, it could be a better idea to understand the real motivation which prompted you to look for an answer here (I’ll address these topic below).
I googled the quote, and I note that it belongs to Rupert Spira. Sadly, he’s not a qualified teacher, as he doesn’t understand the means of knowledge and he uses a lot of dualistic terms, although he calls it non-duality. As you are a Vedanta student, who apparently has understood that his search is a search for knowledge (and not experience), your mind should also understand the value of the means of knowledge. Vedanta is a system that has to be understood as an impersonal structure that talks to different levels of understanding. The danger with the so-called non-duality teachers is their teachings’ lack of structure. Therefore their egos are the ones who automatically structures their sayings, as everything always has a structure in this world. So they always use a personal set of teachings with a confused and confusing mixing of levels. Regardless of their charisma and spiritual status (lots of them actually know their true nature), they are not qualified to teach the means of removing ignorance.
Maybe you went to read those texts because you wanted some answer that you are not directly expressing. But remember that when your understanding of Vedanta is clear, your mind tells you the answer or at least gives you the discrimination to separate the fake teachings from the helpful ones. I think that you would get better results if you stay near to traditional Vedanta. In other words, don’t look for the point of view of Vedanta, let Vedanta become your point of view, as any other option is a personal one.
Conrad: Trying to express further (dualistically/experientially) “where I find myself now”:…
Shams: I’ve tried to express this before, but I’ll try again.
There are only two stages to the “liberation from the suffering” business:
(1) I know/experience awareness;
(2) I am awareness.
Any other set of stages is for the ego/mind, and it’s of no relevance to the means of knowledge. You only have two options. Before, we talked about the “firefly stage” that sometimes is used to name the switching of the mind from “I am the self” to “I know/experience the self.” I think that you should understand the real position of this idea. Also, it could be used in the case of someone who doesn’t know who he or she is and sometimes apparently gets ignorance removed but then gets his or her ignorance back. Anyway, there are still only two options. If you want to know what is your case, we can ask this: Do you ask yourself “where I find myself now”? If you answered “yes,” then you think you are a person, and therefore you see awareness as an object, not you. If you want to change this, you have to keep working on your vasanas and hearing the teachings. That’s the easy way.
Conrad: …the “zooming out,” or “dying” with respect of “being this person” goes on,…
Shams: I know that you are writing this “dualistically,” but it’s still a personal delusion. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can go on with the application of knowledge. Remember that you will never stop “being this person.” First of all because you never were and never will be a person. Just recognize it. There’s no process. There’s only you and the object. The person is the one who entertains the idea that something is dying or zooming out. You use quotation marks to signify that you don’t actually believe it, but then why are you writing it? You are still looking only at the object, measuring it, trying to get some answers via its feelings and experiences. I don’t see any zooming out here. It seems that you are expecting something to become better, to feel better or to be more present. The sad truth is that nothing will change. Liberation won’t make anything better. Liberation is actually a lie. You can’t liberate something that is already free. So why would you try to feel it or live it or zoom out of it or be it?
Just understand it. Read serious impersonal texts. Reading the Neo Advaitins will only delay it. Hear the impersonal teaching and get the whole picture. If you can’t get it, blame your mind, not the texts. When your mind is clear, you will get it in ten seconds. If the mind is not getting it, then do sadhana. Don’t mix things, because inquiry won’t heal the old wound that is causing you to feel vulnerability as something painful. Independently of what you do or what you think, you won’t stop being infinitely indestructible and Conrad won’t stop being infinitely vulnerable. That’s the way it is and your only job is to accept it.
Conrad: …feelings of vulnerability alternated with sensing of the ever-present underlying peace/stillness and presence/aliveness.
Shams: Again, you are writing this “dualistacally/experientially,” but why would someone (who knows what that means) do that? There is a big mistake in your comprehension, and your search would benefit if you recognize it now. It would be useful to check all the teachings again. This time, and this is the important thing, the teachings should not come to your mind as added information, but they have to debunk and substitute all your personal views, as they are grounded on mithya.
About your last phrase, I think that sattva could be like a dope. Maybe you got sattva, but clearly you don’t know that you are limitless awareness. If clarity is causing this trouble to the controlling ego, I would recommend that you forget it for your own good and start doing more fun things, like all of the things that humans do for the holidays. I really mean it. ☺ Ignorance won’t go anywhere, but at least you will enjoy Christmas much more than you would enjoy it with such a narrow idea about who you are. You think you have something to do with “sensing of the ever-present underlying peace/stillness and presence/aliveness.” That is because you are identified with the bliss sheath, and the mischievous language of the “non-duality world” just will make it worse.
Getting peace, stillness, presence, instead of vulnerability – it doesn’t work like that. ShiningWorld almost mainly consists in telling people that it doesn’t work like that. You think that you are near to something special because you are getting some experiences, nothing more than that. If you want to imply that you allow bliss and vulnerability to happen, as you are the self that allows everything to happen, it would sound better. But then we would ask: Is it really relevant the bliss or the not-bliss in you? Why do you care? Yes, you allow bliss and not-bliss to happen. Cool. Then what? Who are you? Why are your objects more important than you?
In your email, it seems that you are disturbed by the feelings of vulnerability, as is every other human being. Knowledge won’t end those feelings, at least not in the very beginning. When you know who you are, those feelings don’t disappear, they just won’t matter anymore. But also the feelings of presence/peace/aliveness don’t matter anymore. You look for them because you think that you are limited. When you don’t know who you are, but you are a seeker of knowledge, you have to develop a dispassionate mind. If you don’t have dispassion, it’s very difficult to make important advances in the realization of your identity, because you are always moved by what happens in the mind, and you cannot actually grasp the real meaning of what is being communicated to you. You just can’t pay attention properly. So I urge you to read this several times in order for your mind to comprehend it. I’ve written about this before, so in the next emails, if you want to state “where you are at,” “how you feel” or “what you experience,” please give it a second thought. It’s a topic that deserves immediate and profound inquiry made by you, not by me, as it’s clear that, even if I write it several times, it doesn’t equal to your own revision, an application of knowledge.
So remember, you are indestructible, while Conrad, as is any one of us, vulnerable. Don’t make it a problem, if you don’t feel indestructible. And if sometimes you actually feel indestructible, don’t get attached to that. Don’t make the feelings a measure, because it’s a trap. Understand that you are free from the feelings of indestructibility and the feelings of destructibility. Feelings are just like fuel, as they motivate actions of all kinds, but they are not to be trusted. They are not knowledge. Feeling limited or limitless is a human thing. It has nothing to do with you. If you start seeking for the feeling or the sensing of absence of limits, you are forgetting the fact that everything in the world is a limit (included your feelings and thoughts), as experience (and the whole world born from that concept) is a limit itself, a fake division between a subject and an object. The mind trying to get something that is infinitely more subtle than it will always fail.
Sure, we want to feel good. That is part of the nature of the living beings. In reality, we just don’t want to be relatively okay, but we want to be always adequate, as if there were something very wrong with having limits. So, as humans, we do a lot of things in order to avoid the sense of inadequacy, behind which resides the suspicion of our true identity. Because we cannot bear such a lie about our identity, we begin our crazy business of forgetting the fact that we are already adequate and limitless. When you realize that you are free and eternal, it is easier to accept that the person is dependent and finite. You don’t stop loving him and taking care of him, but the relationship between you and it as an object becomes easier, as the thought that you are confined to it just loses its strength.
So, on the level of the individual, the knowledge of who you are just changes the way you relate to objects. Rajas, tamas and sattva will never stop flowing. Vedanta suggests some practices in order to develop a sattvic mind, but just as a means to an end because then it’s easier to understand who you are. Sattva is worth nothing by itself. It’s a rope, and it binds too. A woman or a man who knows her or his true identity is still subjected to all of the gunas in the physical and the subtle worlds. They are by no means different from anyone else. They’re not better. They don’t have special feelings or ideas. They are not experiencing the “presence” or the “bliss.” The only difference is that their search for knowledge is over because ignorance is gone. Lots of them may still experience some kind of suffering, due to their vasanas, as their knowledge is not completely actualized, but also they clearly recognize that they are the self and that the suffering can’t touch them.
If you are “sensing the ever-present underlying peace/stillness and presence/aliveness,” that’s very good for you because there’s some sattva in the mind. But also, in terms of knowledge, that’s too bad, because you still care, and when that sattva goes away (and it will go away), you will suffer. A person who knows his or her true identity is not in those states or any other state. It’s only a person that appears and disappears. “Presence,” “aliveness” or “peace” are objects among the objects. “Vulnerability” is another object. If the feeling of vulnerability is disturbing and doesn’t go away after inquiry, then the natural thing to do is to act. As I mentioned, it could be caused by an old wound, and I think that maybe you know the root of your personal fear. If it’s a binding vasana, knowledge won’t solve it, so, as anyone else, you will have to perform some action, directly addressing the cause of the feeling.
This is another thing that the Neos are not getting clearly: there are levels. So the issues belonging to the individual can only be solved directly at the level of the individual. At the same time, only you are real and you have no levels or problems of any kind.
I, the light that illumines everything, where every experience resides, am the one who illumines vulnerability, invulnerability and every other idea about creation or destruction, although they just signify me, limitless, ordinary, unalterable awareness.