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Dealing With the Doer
Hugh: I have read Swami Dayananda’s "The Value of Values" a couple of times. Thank you for that.
I also recently received James' new book, so have started that, and am reading it slowly.
Regarding the job situation, Jiva's been interested in a particular job for awhile, and a second interview offer has come up. There is a problem in that they would like to interview me in person asap during the week this week or next week, but my current job keeps me busy during the week. I've requested a weekend interview instead, so am waiting for a response, which I will probably receive today or tomorrow. It seems it will be a bit of a dilemma if they say that they can't interview me on the weekend (different city, a few hours away by bus or train). I'm hoping for their consideration that I can't just suddenly leave work for a day. I don't want to lie in order to take a day off. My first interview was done online, and even for that, they couldn't do it on a weekend after I had requested a weekend interview. I was able to do it on a day off at a later date. Anyway, I will probably get a response from them before I hear back from you.
Shams: That's an interesting story and not an easy dilemma. See below for an approach to the Vedantic perspective.
Hugh: Regarding some of the reading I've been doing (James' books, shingingworld satsangs by James, Sundari, and others, etc.), I sometimes see the word "conscious" used differently. My current understanding is that "consciousness" is just another word for "awareness", so in other words, I, awareness, am conscious, and everything else is not (from one standpoint, but in a nondual reality, everything is awareness, so everything is conscious).
Shams: You are right; “consciousness” and “awareness” are two words refering to the same quality of the Self (so to speak, because clearly the Self has no qualities), which is being concious.
Also it is important to understand why we say that you are the only conscious subject while everything else is not, and, at the same time, we say that everything is consciousness. This is because, in a non-dual reality there is only you, not a subject or and object. Only you. But, it appears to be objects in you and, for some reason (called Maya), you apparently think of yourself as one of that objects. Because you are non-dual and limitless, you include everything, even the capacity of being dual and having limits. So that is the reason why there are objects that aren't conscious, and, at the same time, they are you (because it's impossible for anything to be something different from you), and you are concious.
Hugh: However, I read a satsang by Sundari that said that Ishvar is conscious, but Jiva is not. However, Ishvar is an object to awareness, so I don't know why she used that word. I don't understand what she meant be Ishvar being conscious, but Jiva not being conscious. It seems to be that either you say that both are not conscious, as they are objects to awareness, or both are conscious.
Shams: Sometimes we talk about Ishvara as it was the only Doer and the whole Manifestation (Isvara in the role of creator wielding maya). And, as the Self is free from doership and manifestation, this facet of Ishvara is clearly an object, like the jiva. However, Isvara means actionless pure awareness, too,because Ishvara is just another name for Awarenes. That's the reason why we also say that Ishvara is concious, not as the Creator, but as the Self.
If you want to learn more about the relationship between Ishvara, the jiva and the Self, this is a good satsang from Sundari:
Hugh: Also, in James' new book, The Essence of Enlightenment, on page 58 he writes, "Even if you believe you are bound, you should live as if you are free and see if reality doesn't support you one hundred percent. Experience may say it doesn't, but knowledge says it does."
Shams: That is a practice recommended on traditional Advaita Vedanta since always. Its purpose is to help the mind on the removing of ignorance acting as if Knowledge were firm. “Fake it until you make it” has demonstrated to be a very useful technique in fields related with learning and psychology. As you know, Vedanta is not a field of knowledge, but a means of knowledge; however it is for the mind, and these technique is for the mind. It actually doesn't meant to change anything in the world, but what you believe.
Hugh: I find that quote a little confusing, because following svadharma doesn't seem to necessarily mean living as if you are free.
Shams: First, let's describe “freedom” as the state of being limitless, full, completely adequate and always present. What would you do if you were in that state? Well, you couldn't do anything, because that description is not for a doer (actions require limits and changes). And, strictly speaking, that is not a state, because something with those characteristics has to be changeless, and states change... So, as it doesn't change and it's limitless, it has to be the only existing thing. So, if there is the only existing thing, and you obviously exist, it has to be you... If that freedom exists, there is no other possibility for its identity than you. And there are some evidences about its existence, like the desperate and never ending quest of the mind for adequacy (freedom from inadequacy, which is freedom from all the limits). Because of ignorance, it tries to get freedom (as it were a state) by connecting with objects that apparently give security, pleasure or the sense of being good. Whenever the mind seeks for the joy in an object, it is looking for the sense of limitless, fullness and adequacy, i.e. freedom. Whitout knowing that you are that freedom.
So, how can you gain freedom if you are it? You only need to know it. It is impossible for you to not be free. You have to understand that freedom is not for the aparent person, but from the person (although the fruit of this knowledge is for the apparent person). If someone asks you what would you do if you were free, you have to know that the complete freedom is not for the doer. You don't have to start doing something new or to stop doing something else. Also, living as if you are free doesn't equal forgeting about svadharma or the daily needs of the body-mind complex. Living as if you were free equals knowing that the aparente person is an object in you and, at the same time, to let that person live a life according with that knowledge, i.e. following Ishvara's laws.
I know I repeated things that you already know, but this has to be desplayed completely in order to keep debunking the superimposition confusion. Please, inquiry again if the doubt is not gone yet.
Hugh: For example, if I tell this company that I'm interested in working for that I can come tomorrow for an interview, then just go, that is acting freely. I would be ignoring the "bound" feeling of my current job. However, that would obviously be seen as inappropriate by my boss, manager, school principal, and teachers that I work with to suddenly disappear from work for a day.
Shams: See, acting as if you were free has nothing to do with acting as the doer were free in the field of life (that power belongs only to Ishvara). The doer will always be limited by the world and, intuitively, you know it very good, so you are respectful of moral and physical laws. Even if you knew who you are, the job dilemma would keep existing. The only difference would be that it would be known as an object in you. That doesn't excuses the doer from anything; au contraire, when you know who you are it becomes almost impossible for the apparent person to violate Dharma, because that person values what it implies (a pure mind) above everything. This is an enormous confusion in the “spiritual world”, so, if you understand this today, you will be relieved from many headaches tomorrow.
As for the situation with the jobs, you are in front of a dharmic dilemma. It's really impossible to be in the field of life and no to break some rules almost all the time. For example, we kill thousands of life organism with every breed and, from time to time, we have to say a white lie in order to avoid hurting someone. Sometimes we come out from this little violations of Dharma whitout feeling guilt and not getting many undesired results, but sometimes not. Such is the nature of life.
Also, as S. Dayananda explains, the values of Dharma are hierarchical. For example, sticking a knife on the stomach of a man is a violation of ahimsa, but it's an acceptable violation if you are a surgeon trying to save his life. As you have a sattvic mind, you understand clearly that lying to your boss is a violation of Dharma. On the other hand, you also understand that working on your current job is hurting your mind with rajas and tamas, so staying would be a violation of Dharma, too. Any decision you make will imply some moral and material loses and gains, as everything in the world. Knowledge won't change this, but the point of view from where you are looking at the show.