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How to Explain Vedanta to People in My Life
Viktoria: Dear Sundari, my name is Viktoria, and I happily attended the last event in Berlin in 2016.
First of all, I want to thank James and you and the whole team at ShiningWorld for making this happen. It was a great gift to me. It was only during the last year that I discovered James and you and ShiningWorld.
It hit me immediately like electricity, and I couldn’t stop reading and watching everything I could find from James and what’s at your website. It made a click; everything fell into place – I don’t want to sound dramatic, but it was like that. This was the language I could understand; for me, very easy and direct. That’s why I was so happy and full of joy when I attended the great event in Berlin.
I was on the “path” at least the last 20 years. There have been lots of struggles and fights in my life, existential crises, but my desire to free myself became stronger and stronger. Coming from theatre (as a singer and director) now, for 10 years I have owned my own business as an excecutive coach and life coach in Munich and internationally. I started with the Tao, Jean Klein, Ramana, meditation, listening to satsangs, I went to India, etc.
Now, thanks to your great work, I can see clearly. It is so logical. Now, I also have words for it:
Karma yoga and working on my vasanas, neutralization of the gunas… and my mind has become sattvic more and more. It was a lot of work. Vasanas are there, but they don’t have the same power over me anymore. I know that I am the self; everything is happening in me. I don’t identify with it. It is so blissful. Free. Isvara!!
I have three questions about my daily life. How can I handle these things?
My husband supports me, but is a little concerned about “my development”… I keep telling him, offering the books to read. But nothing happened. He wants to make sure that I am still with him… that’s what he said.
My friends ask me: “What is it about this Vedanta thing that you are so deep in it?” When I start to answer, they seem to be not interested anymore. “I cannot put it in one of my boxes,” is a quote from one of them. Is there a better way to explain it?
From time to time I offer my clients something like: “It is only a thought, you don’t have to believe it and follow it.” Many times this is a start of a good conversation… but is it fair to irritate them?
It started last year that I came to the conclusion that I have to make profound changes in the way I work with clients. Many of my “coaching tools” came from the old days and another point of view.
This is a work in progress.
I would be very thankful for some advice.
~ All blessings, Viktoria
Sundari: We are so happy for you that the knowledge is working and the jiva starts to reap the fruits of self-inquiry. The amazing thing about the knowledge is that it really does work to remove suffering when it translates into the life of the jiva. You have clearly been very committed to your sadhana, and the reward is that self-knowledge has obtained. You must have been qualified and ready for this.
As freeing as freedom from your conditioning is for the jiva, it is often difficult to explain the resulting dispassion and lack of emotionality about life to those who are close to us. I can understand your husband’s fear that he will lose you. If only he understood that the only thing there is to lose with self-inquiry is ignorance of our true nature, which will make you a happier person. Sadly, if the mind is not qualified to hear the knowledge, it will not make sense. There is no point trying to explain it. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: “Let not the wise disturb the minds of the ignorant.” Your friends switch off because of the mind not being ready to hear Vedanta.
The right way to approach this is to see everyone as the self and worship them as such without avoiding or ignoring where they are at, with the karma yoga attitude. Isvara takes care of everyone; you are not the doer. As for your husband, pay attention to his needs and assure him of your love – but it’s probably a waste of time trying to explain Vedanta to him. Love him as he is. He is the self too. With time, he should be able to see that your lack of reaction to life, attachment to results and bondage to objects makes you a much happier person.
As to your life coaching, the teaching on the gunas can easily be “uncoupled” from the scripture and put into layman’s terms. The gunas are universal energies that affect everyone, and if you remove the Sanskrit and replace it with ordinary words, anyone can understand and relate to this teaching. I would advise you to read up on the gunas as much as you can. James explains them in both his books How to Attain Enlightenment and The Essence of Enlightenment as well as Inquiry into Existence. Use the search function on the e-satsang section of the website. This teaching is my primary focus, and I have just written a book on it, called Enlightened Lifestyles. We are busy editing it and hope to have it ready for publication in the next few months. It deals with the most important part of the teachings, which is how they translate into life.
If you have any further questions about this, feel free to write to us.
~ Om, Sundari