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Deeksha, Experiential Bliss
Brett: Hello! I’m emailing just to ask if you are familiar with the “phenomenon and the gift,” aka Golden Orb Deekhsa, or Oneness Blessing. I’ve been using Vedanta as a tool for inquiry for about a year now and have just recently been initiated as a hands-on blessing giver. I feel unconditional divine love in my heart and find myself wondering how and if the two are related in any way and if it even matters. Is it acceptable to partake in both on my path? Thank you so much for reading and taking time out of your day!! Please get back to me when you can.
Sundari: Hello, Brett. We are very familiar with the “Oneness” University. I had Deeksha “transferred” to me way back when I was not clear about the enormous distinction between ignorance and knowledge – and between experience and knowledge. I never bought it though, and shortly after, Vedanta made all such practices null and void because they are all underpinned by the idea of doership – and that something is lacking in the person which can be “fixed.”
The so-called Oneness University is a profit-based, bogus outfit that has cobbled together some “New Age” slogans under the guise of the “Indian spiritual mystique,” posing as genuine non-duality teachers and teachings. The people behind it have been exposed as corrupt, yet amazingly, it still prospers. There is always a place for this because of the nature of ignorance. As the mind is so hungry to know the self, at best this kind of thing will give the mind a taste of the bliss of experiential knowledge. Sadly, as all experience takes place in time, all experiences end. And when they inevitably do, the “you” you think you are is still there with all its identification with its conditioning, all its problems and all its suffering. Knowing no better, the mind is convinced that there is something wrong with it instead of seeing that there is something wrong with what it believes to be true – namely, that it is incomplete and needs something to complete it. The mind has a knowledge problem. So it goes chasing after yet another experience, believing that freedom is something that can be gained, that the elusive joy must be in the object. For clarification, an object is anything other than you, awareness; this includes gross objects like the body to subtle objects, like thoughts and feelings. All objects arise from awareness, are made up of awareness and have a dependent existence on it, although awareness is always free of all objects.
There is a big problem with this thinking, as the self, awareness, cannot be gained, because it is who you are. No action (not even a supposedly “spiritual” action) taken by a limited entity can possibly produce a limitless result, which is moksa. As awareness is the subject and not the object, the means at our disposal for knowing anything – perception and inference – are insufficient because the subject is subtler than the object. So, as awareness is not an object of knowledge, it can only be revealed to be one’s true nature by a teaching capable of removing ignorance from the mind. The one and only solution to suffering is self-knowledge. And self-knowledge (Vedanta) has to be taught to a mind that is qualified. Only Vedanta offers a valid, independent means of knowledge capable of freeing the mind permanently from ignorance. Vedanta is not based on the opinions or beliefs of anyone. It is simply and irrefutably the knowledge that underpins all other knowledge and is the truth with a capital “T” about you – which is why it is called the knowledge that ends the quest for knowledge, if you are ready to put an end to seeking and become a finder.
Brett: I also really enjoyed you and James’ video on non-dual relationships. I do think I may still have some misconceptions about it though; with my first Deeksha blessing I felt a powerful energy inside me that stopped me in my tracks, I guess.
Sundari: I am glad you enjoyed the video on non-dual relationships. It seems pretty clear from what you say that you do not understand the difference between the two orders of reality: non-duality, or satya (that which is real, i.e. unchanging), and duality, or mithya (that which is always changing).
Brett: And basically I felt the divine enter my heart, but it seemed to be in the form of this “other” person. Could it have been the result of hallucinogenic substances? I would like to be open to either possibility or whether it is anything near a non-dual relationship. Or just ignorance. I only want the truth, and would truly appreciate some help questioning my “experience.” Also, this other person has not felt the same or had a similar experience, to my knowledge.
Sundari: First off, to whom does the “I” in your statements above refer? Who is speaking here? Is it the person identified as being a person? Or is it the person who knows about awareness, but does not know what it means TO BE awareness? It seems that it is the former and not the latter. Your knowledge of awareness is there, but it is indirect. You know about it, but not that you are it.
The divine does not “enter” your heart. It is your heart because your true nature is love. It is not something external to you or something you can gain. The divine – awareness, or the self – is who you are. How can you gain what you are? There is no other because there is nothing other than you, awareness. Ignorance of this fact is called the hypnosis of duality, brought about by maya – that which makes the unlimited and changeless appear to be incomplete and changing.
What you experience is pretty much like the high from a drug-induced experience or an epiphany can provide. The knowledge this kind of subjective information is supposed to give is that YOU are the knower of what appears in the mind – you are not the experiencing entity. If you see it as coming from some magical, mystical place outside of and beyond you, you are still trapped in duality (ignorance), bound to objects and subjugated by them. It is spiritual materialism, no different from any other materialism.
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.
Vyavaharika refers to the realm of empirical reality, such as Newton’s world of billiard balls and clocks. This realm is apparently predictable and relatively stable. If we are both looking at a mountain, we will probably both agree that it is a mountain. But I might find it a scary mountain, and you might find it a peaceful mountain, which will be a result of our subjective view of the mountain. Lastly, one has the realm of paramarthika – the perspective of awareness, which is non-dual vision. Everything is seen as arising from and made up of awareness, as you, even though it depends on you to exist but you do not depend on it. As awareness, you do not depend on anything to exist, because you are existence itself, meaning that which is real, always present and never changing.
The Vedas have a body of literature called the Karma Kanda which deals with the different realms of the apparent reality, all the lokas and the innumerable jivas that inhabit them, from angelic to demonic. It offers many rituals for jivas who think they are doers and who believe they can supplicate and propitiate the “gods” to fulfil their desires. Deeksa fits the bill here. Much mystery, import and hype have been attached to this kind of practice by the spiritual world. At best this relative and subjective knowledge may be a leading error in that it makes you realise there is something more than what you think you know or can perceive with the tools and organs available for perception. In your case, this seems to be true, as it lead you to Vedanta, which is a valid means of knowledge and is capable of removing ignorance.
Brett: To be more specific, what I apparently experienced seemed at the time to be the rising of non-dual vision, where I actually “saw” the non-difference between me and the other and was disidentified with the body and mind for maybe a minute, and would say there was still bliss.
Sundari: Yes, there was bliss.Y ou had a typical non-dual experience of the self, you – awareness. As I explained, there is nothing wrong with experience and we are always experiencing something, but as all experience takes place in time, all have a beginning and an end. All experiences are meant to deliver one thing – the knowledge that you are the non-experiencing entity – the knower of the experience, and not the experiencer. If you do not know the difference between experience and knowledge, the knowledge the experience is meant to deliver will not be assimilated, which leaves you chasing another experience because you identify with the experiencer instead of the knower of the experience. You think that you are incomplete and need an experience to complete you. Vedanta says that you need nothing to complete you, because you are whole and complete, non-dual, actionless, unchanging, unlimited, unconcerned, ordinary awareness.
Brett: Also, I was under the influence of hallucinogens, which lost their effect during this time and afterwards; the energy, that I assume to be from the blessing, seemed to have brought this vision up, but did not completely burn off afterwards; does the fact that I became “reidentified” with the body and mind indicate that this was a false vision of non-duality?
Sundari: No, it was not a false vision. And the vision of non-duality was not “from the blessing.” See the misidentification? But it was experiential bliss, which never lasts. There are two kinds of bliss: ananda, which is experiential bliss such as you experienced, and anantum, which is the bliss of the self. The bliss of the self is very different from experiential bliss because it is that which is always present, unlimited and unchanging – it is not an experience, because it is your true nature. When self-knowledge has obtained in the mind, you usually do feel experiential bliss regularly, but one does not depend on it, because you know you are the bliss. In fact you could be sick, in pain and half-dead, broke, jobless or stuck in a situation you do not enjoy but cannot change – and feel blissful, regardless of what is going on in the mind or around it. That is not to say that experiential bliss disappears when self-knowledge is firm. It just does not matter whether the experience of bliss is present or not, because the bliss of self-knowledge is always present and known to be your true nature, keeping the mind steady, dispassionate and confident.
When there is a particularly pleasant experience for the mind, like an epiphany, a spiritual experience such as you had – or a drug-induced “high,” the tendency will be to want that experience again – and you think you have to “do” something to attain it. Self-knowledge, or moksa, is not a doing. You cannot gain it. It can only be revealed to be who you are with the removal of ignorance. No action on the part of a limited entity (the person/jiva) will result in a limitless result, which is moksa, or freedom from dependence on objects. The mind has to be qualified for self-inquiry. Self-inquiry is not an experience; it is the application of discriminative knowledge to the mind.
Brett: And also, Vedanta says bliss is an object which is not me, which is ignorance, correct?
Sundari: Anything known to you cannot be you. Experiential bliss is an object known to you, but it is not necessarily ignorance, unless you identify with it or see it as something you have to have to be whole. See above.
Brett: A true vision of non-duality can’t include anything other than pure awareness/the self and can’t be caused by anything like an “energy transfer,” for example?
Sundari: This is explained above. To recap: a vision of non-duality means that whatever you see/experience is known to be you, the self because there IS nothing other than you. There is no separation between you, the knower, and the known. BUT – moksa means that you understand the difference between what is real, satya (the knower – always present and unchanging) and that which is only apparently real, mithya (the known – not always present and always changing). Translated this means that moksa is the ability to discriminate you, the self, from the objects that appear in you – 24/7. An object is anything other than you – and it can be a gross object, like the body or subtle objects, like thoughts and feelings – or any experience, “spiritual” or otherwise.
All objects arise from awareness/the self, are made up of awareness and depend on awareness to exist, but the self depends on nothing to exist. It’s like H2O, or water, the ocean and the wave. The ocean and the wave depend on H2O to exist, but H2O does not depend on the ocean or the wave to exist – it is prior to the ocean and the wave.
An “energy transfer” implies that someone or something can give you something you don’t have – such as yourself. But how is that possible, if you already ARE yourself?
Brett: It’s already there, if awareness is who I am and I am eternal and pure knowingness.
Sundari: Yes. The knower, YOU, the self, is prior to everything. How would you know what you know, know what you don’t know or experience anything at all if awareness was not present prior to it?
Brett: Would this also mean that when the body mind experiences a softening, an opening, of the heart, it is just having a subjective experience? And nothing’s actually happening at all?
Sundari: A “softening of the heart” is a subjective experience of your true nature. If you don’t understand what it means and identify with the experience instead of the knower of the experience, you will believe that you “lose” yourself when the experience ends, which it will – and which was your experience. But you never lost or gained anything, because your true nature is love, awareness.
From the self’s perspective (non-dual perspective), nothing is ever happening. The world is a dream with a dream. It exists for the jiva to work out its karma.
From the person’s perspective, the world appears to be real and separate from you. The world is a tricky place because it is run by maya – that which makes the changeless (you) appear to be changing. Or that which deludes the self into identifying with objects believing that awareness is something other than you, something it can gain. Only self-knowledge is capable of removing ignorance, or the illusion of duality, from the mind. Duality is only a superimposition onto non-duality; it is not real. But if ignorance rules the mind, you will take it to be real.
Brett: If this softening is from the blessing or from inquiring into my nature as awareness, would you say the blessing will bind me further if I continue to participate? Does it help at all even to purify the mind and body for assimilating true self-knowledge? Or only hinder?
Sundari: Self-inquiry is a kind of binding you want to have because it will lead to freedom, self-knowledge. Chasing experience such as the Deekhsa blessing will bind you if you think you have to chase the experience of wholeness/non-separation/non-duality, because you do not know that it is who you are. It is usually the case that spiritual seekers get hooked on experience and many believe that without such experiences, you cannot be free. This is the notion of experiential enlightenment. Many believe that having so called “spiritual” experiences or epiphanies, of whatever nature, make them somehow superior or “more spiritual,” more “enlightened.”It’s all nonsense. Spiritual types believe that self-knowledge, or moksa, is another object to obtain and you have to do something to obtain it. It will never work. You cannot gain what you already have, because you are what you seek. Awareness cannot be objectified. It is the cause, or subject, and everything else is the object. The object cannot know the subject, because it is subtler than it. The mind (object) needs a means of knowledge capable of removing ignorance from it. Only Vedanta is such a means.
Brett: Do I need a qualified teacher in person to teach me Vedanta or are the websites NeverNotPresent.com and ShiningWorld.com okay to use for inquiry?
Sundari: I am a qualified teacher and I am teaching you. Ted Schmidt from NeverNotPresent.com is also an excellent teacher and is endorsed by us. Any of the ShiningWorld teachers can help you. It helps to be “in the presence” of the teacher, but it is not a prerequisite for moksa. The qualifications for moksa are prerequisites though. Vedanta has a very specific methodology, which will work to remove ignorance if the mind is qualified and a qualified teacher wields it for you.
Although not all the qualifications need to be present, they need to be understood and developed. So both qualifications and a qualified teacher are not negotiable, assuming moksa is the aim. There is a very good reason why Vedanta stresses the importance the qualifications and of a qualified teacher. Ignorance, or the non-apprehension of the true nature of reality as non-dual, is hardwired and very tenacious. As the mind is conditioned to think a certain way and because non-duality is counter-intuitive, unless the mind is guided in its exposure to Vedanta it will interpret Vedanta according to its conditioning, or vasanas, and self-knowledge will not obtain. There are apparent contradictions within the teachings, which are not real contradictions and need to be resolved by a qualified teacher. Teachings and teachers abound who teach according to their methods and experience (such as Oneness University, to name one of countless others), but this is always flawed and limited. Unless a teaching is independent of the teacher, it will be contaminated by his or her beliefs, opinions and experiences, no matter how lofty or “enlightened” they claim to be.
Although it is beneficial to be in the presence of a qualified teacher, there is no real boundary between you and the guru, because a guru literally means “one who dispels the darkness,” and in doing so, reveals that the self is the only guru because this is a non-dual reality. Whether we are physically with you or connecting via technology, the knowledge is wielded in the same way by us because we are qualified teachers of Vedanta. We see you as the self, as non-different. Vedanta is a teaching tradition based on friendship and equality. If the mind is prepared and qualified and you are firmly dedicated to self-inquiry, self-knowledge will do “the work” of removing ignorance. We are all here to help you with any questions that arise. James has taught thousands of people around the world and helped many of them find moksa, most of whom he never met.
BUT – we cannot do “the work” of self-inquiry for you. You have to follow the instructions we give at our website if you want to be taught by us. It takes a burning desire for freedom to commit to self-inquiry. As James is fond of saying, Vedanta is the court of last appeal for those fortunate souls whose karma prepares them for moksa, freedom. ShiningWorld has tons of material available, much of it free. Make use of the e-satsang section for questions and answers. We have many free videos at YouTube as well. It all depends what you value most. Are you interested in freedom or are you going to carry on chasing experiences and getting high by whatever external means?
The simple fact is that whatever outside means you use to help you gain what you already have will in the long run become an obstacle. There is no shortcut to and no chemical solution for self-inquiry. I am not saying that one can’t gain insights while using mind-altering substances, whatever they are. If you have read James’ autobiography you will see that he had many mind-blowing experiences on them. However, to rely on them is dangerous and builds very strong vasanas – binding habits, or conditioning.
Brett: Thank you for talking with me.
Sundari: You are welcome, Brett.